Life, it seems, has been leading us to a specific point, to where you find yourself today.
Life, it seems, has been leading us to a specific point. Good choices and dire circumstances and situations, ups and downs, and so on, have contributed to where you find yourself today. You were not born rich or poor, happy or sad, wise or foolish, and again, so on. You began with a blank slate and have since painted the life you now live, stroke by stroke. When you were six years old in the first grade, you fought off that bully and gained confidence in yourself. Or, otherwise, you instead ran off crying and felt your self-esteem draining from your heart. Either decision, different as it is, was still going to bring you to where you are today as a believer in God. The fact that you are a believer is no accident. There was no choice in the matter; the only options were how you would get here. In Jeremiah 29:11, the Lord says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” One version of the Bible says, “an expected end,” instead of a “hope.” How can God promise an “expected” outcome? He can only keep that promise by manipulating circumstances through your life while still allowing you free will to make sure that you would end up where He wants you to be. You may ask yourself, “How can that be free will? If God is manipulating the circumstances, then it does not seem like ‘free will.’”
My aim in this article is not to write on free will, but I will explain some. God can allow you and me to make free-will decisions and still manipulate the circumstances as we continue to make choices. For example, I can choose to rob a bank, God will not interfere with my decision, but He already knows what the outcome will eventually be. So, for example, while I am serving that 15-year prison sentence, He can lead another inmate (who had come to know Christ while serving time) to get to know me. That inmate can share his testimony with me, and God uses that to draw me to Him (John 6:44). I listen and choose to believe in Jesus, and I get saved. Now let’s turn that around a bit. My buddies decide they want to rob a bank, but I choose not to join them. Instead, I meet a wonderful girl and fall madly in love with her, but there is one twist in the story. I find out that she is a Christian, and because I want to be with her so badly, I start attending church services with her. One day, I listen to the preacher, and I choose to believe what he is saying. I hear and choose to believe in Jesus, and I get saved. Two different stories but the same result. I had free will in each account, but God still manipulated the circumstances to draw me to Him. In each case, I made my own choices, but God nevertheless worked out what He wanted to happen (Proverbs 16:9 - The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps).
There has always been a point to which everything inside of you was heading. This point was something that God decided before He created the universe. Ephesians 1:4 includes this phrase, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.” In verse 11, it adds this part, “… having been predestined according to His purpose.” From the beginning, God has been working on every bit and circumstance to make sure that those who names are in the Book of Life (Psalms 69:27-28; Daniel 12:1; Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 20:15) would be get saved and live eternally with Him. If God chose you in Him from the beginning, you have been on this road toward salvation from the day you were born. God did not interfere with your choices unless they had the danger of leading off the path He had for you. God did not interfere with the circumstances or situations in your life (good or bad) unless they could detract you from the goal He had for you. Notice Jeremiah 10:23, “I know, O LORD, that a man’s way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps.” God will not allow someone who He has chosen to be with Him to be lost. His love for you does not include that option.
CONSIDER MY LIFE
While considering my own life, the circumstances, and the situations which occurred, all my various choices, good and bad, wise and stupid, I contemplated on how each of those changed (or could have changed) the course of the road that brought me to today. At least three times, I found myself in circumstances that could have resulted in my death. In one case, someone who wanted to kill me stabbed me with a knife. Either of those cases could have ended my journey in this life, but it did not. I know now why, but at those times, I believed I was about to die. I did not recognize that God had saved me for a later purpose because I had such a low self-esteem problem. Like many others, I grew up in a dysfunctional home with bad parents, and I made terrible choices because of my anger issues. I have been married twice, with my first marriage ending only one year after we wed. In my second marriage, we almost divorced in the seventh year. I came to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior when I was 11 years old and rejected Him when I was 12. I made one wrong choice after another until I was 32 years old. At that age, I made a different choice; I gave my life to the Lord. I had known Him as my Savior, but my anger pushed me to rebel against Him. At 32, I promised Him that if He could change me, He could have me; He did His part, and I am still doing mine.
I wrote a book titled “My Search For Importance.” In it included much of how my life looked along my road to today. “Importance” was my goal, my dream, my desire, and my draw. I wanted to matter. I wanted to matter to someone. That desire was also what got me into so much trouble. Why? How? Because those people who could read me like a book (pun intended) also took advantage of me. They pulled on my heart’s string to get me to respond to them in the manner they wanted. Once I realized what they were doing (even if I just believed that it was what they were doing), I would lash out at them violently. I damaged many relationships with people who were not trying to take advantage of me because I misread their intentions. My decision and choices resulted in the loss of many relationships. Many of them I have not been able to repair. On the other hand, every one of those nudged me in this direction or that, moving me toward the goal God set for me a long time ago.
SO NOW THAT YOU KNOW
“Forewarned is forearmed,” goes the phase. The phrase means that if you find out ahead of time that someone will try to do something to you that can hurt you, you can then do something to stop them. If you can agree with what I have said already, you are now at another moment that can change your road’s direction once again. You can leave the change to the circumstances, to your desires and dreams, or you can instead consciously choose to let God take over in a way that will be obvious. Instead of just hoping and dreaming all the time, why not consider the option to have an “expected end?” Oh, I don’t mean “end” like in dying; I mean “end” like in the result, the outcome, something that you can expect to happen.
The Bible is full of instruction from the Lord on this subject. Proverbs 3:5-6 promises that God will make your life easier if you will “trust the Lord with all your heart.” The verses even tell you how to do that. They include (paraphrasing) don’t make choices according to what you think is the right way, but instead, do things the way God wants you to do them. See, God does not only tell us what we may do to get the expected end, but He explains how to do it. God does not want to make your life any harder than it already is, but He wants something from you as well; obedience. It may seem like such a huge price, but the results are worth it. In Psalm 32:8, God says to you and me, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” He does not just say do this or do that. He walks along the road with you as you go. He knows that many of the circumstances and situations (not to mention all those bad decisions we tend to make) can have a painful toll on your life. One could become discouraged along the way, but we need to make the right decisions. Paul said it best in Philippians 3:12-14, “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Did you see it? “Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.” Paul recognized that He had reached one of those moments in His life, a defining moment. He knew He had to decide that would alter his direction in life, and for the rest of it. If he tried to move forward in life while continuing to think about, be angry about, be upset about, be bitter about, and refuse to let go of his past, he could not go forward in the right direction.
God destined you to get here, where you are as a believer, your whole life. The difference was in how you got here. Those bad decisions and circumstances resulting from flawed thinking only made the road harder than it needed to be. You had no control over many things that happened. These include the actions (or inactions) of your parents, friends, relatives, and others. You had no control over what they chose to do or not do, but you did have a choice as to how you would react to those events and actions. You may not have been aware back then that you did have the option in many of those matters, but you did. The question is not what happened then; instead, will you choose to “forget” them? No, not forget as in that those memories will necessarily be erased from your memory, but “forget” as in to choose not to dwell on them. If you make this choice, you will not walk the road alone. You will not have to worry about failing or falling. The Lord makes this clear in Psalm 37:23-24, “The steps of a man are established by the LORD, and He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong because the LORD is the One who holds his hand.” God goes on to say in Isaiah 43:18, “Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it?” You were brought to this point in your life by God. He drew you to Him because He loves you. Let Him be your guide and teacher, and He will lead you in the path (road) of righteousness.