The Paths We Take: How Does God Shape Them?

August 30th 2013 No comments yet  

PathsIn this season of life, I’ve been wrestling with how much control I have in how my life turns out. It has led me to wading into debates between predestination and free will, which I have absolutely no business being in. However, my reasons for pondering the Calvinist debate are quite selfish.

I thought I was a lock for a job in sports, yet here I am sitting at a church. Could I have done more to change that? Would an additional internship or even going to a different school have changed the course of my life? Would I be nearly as happy as I am now working here?

Is there one person I’m supposed to marry? Or are there a multitude of options that have the “God-approved” stamp? If so, how many have I already burned through and missed out on? Will I run out of options?

The more you question the different paths you could have taken, the more your life starts to resemble a bad alternate-reality storyline in a comic book. How much is influenced by you as opposed to God having a set plan for you?

I want to take a look at two people in the Bible to answer this question: Joseph and Jonah.

These two have a common thread: They both experienced great hardship in their paths to serving the Lord. This is nothing novel; in fact it’s pretty much standard procedure when God uses someone. Joseph was sold into slavery by his own family and wrongly imprisoned. Jonah got familiar with a fish tummy for three days. Their times of suffering are incredibly different.

When you read Joseph’s story, you constantly come across little connections that are neon “God Working” signs from the perspective of the reader, but Joseph certainly couldn’t see them as they were happening. The series of events that leads from a pit to slavery to prison to his eventual command over Egypt is a string of links that only God could put together. Not to mention the implications of when Moses comes into the picture years later and how Joseph’s path affects the formation of the nation of Israel. The details are mind-boggling.

Jonah, on the other hand, thought Tarshish was a much more attractive destination than Nineveh when God commanded him to go and preach to the lost Ninevites. He was supposed to go to what is modern-day Iraq. Instead, he boarded a ship for what is now Spain. He is downgraded to much less spacious travel accommodations, and the fish spits him out where God had commanded him to go.

Joseph, as far as we can tell, faithfully followed the path God laid out before him.

Jonah bailed immediately, desperately trying to forge his own path.

God got them both to the destinations He had in mind for them.

God doesn’t need a backup plan as far as the destination is concerned. Maybe we don’t get there quite like we think we should. Many times we could have probably made it easier on ourselves. But God has got a place for you in this life where you will eventually arrive, regardless of what you do to try and mess it up.

When I get discouraged about the direction of my life, my mother’s go-to encouragement is to remind me, “Joseph went from prison to second in command in a single day. You never know what God has planned for today.” God does what He wants, when He wants, and none of the barriers we perceive, even the ones we cause ourselves, matter a hill of beans to His plans.

Where you are right now is exactly where you’re supposed to be. Who you’re with is who you’re supposed to be with. You’re doing exactly what you need to be right now because God has a plan for you. He loves you too much to give you anything less than the best for you.


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