In my search for destiny, I felt like I had to start with the foundational definition of the word.
What is destiny?
I think that, traditionally, I’ve always seen destiny as something like our future. (See figure 1)
Destiny would be anything that happens to the right of the Men’s room guy.
I felt a bit of dissatisfaction with this definition. I don’t know why, but I felt like it could be focused more.
So, in an effort to hone in on destiny’s more concise meaning, I decided that I needed to examine a case study. And if there was ever a man whose life seemed to have such an obvious presence of destiny, it was Jesus. During his entire adult ministry life, as recorded in the gospels, he was aware of a grander plan (God’s plan) for his life. In fact, it would seem that, even as a young boy, he was aware that his life was meant for something more. (See Luke 2)
But in looking at the life of Christ, I began to wonder this: Yes, I can see that destiny would have everything to do with our life in the future. But is destiny an event or a direction?
Destiny: The Event
Some people would look at the life of Christ and say that, undoubtedly; his destiny was to die on the cross. They would say that his entire life was meant for this one act of sacrifice. He was born and then lived his life, all for the purpose of becoming the atonement for our great sin.
This definition of destiny would see it as an isolated incident. A one time act. (See figure 2)
Kind of like climbing a mountain. You climb up and up and up and finally reach the summit. And once you reach the top, you’ve arrived. You can’t reach it again. Mission Accomplished.
But, there are some problems with this view. First, what happens if one reaches their destiny, but it doesn’t come at the end of their life? If I accomplish my great act at the age of 27, and yet live to the age of 88, are the last 61 years of my life meaningless; a sort of downhill coast? Second, when looking at the life of Jesus, what about the thousands of other things he did on the way to the cross? Rob Bell once said that salvation (here referring to Jesus’ sacrificial atonement on the cross) was not the point of Jesus’ coming to earth. Rather, restoration was. He then went on to say that Jesus’ death on the cross was simply the last step in a plan to restore mankind to the naked relationship with God that we once took part in.
Destiny: The Direction
Rob’s view of Jesus’ destiny would seem to indicate something other than a one-time event. His view would seem to be more of a directional definition. (See figure 3)
Wherein, Jesus’ destiny lay not in the crucifixion, but in the thousands of miracles, redemptive acts, restored relationships, revolutionary teachings, and, in general, time spent with the ones he loved the most: us. In this view the crucifixion is no less important, but rather the knock out punch delivered at just the right time in a ten round fight.
So, which is it? Was Jesus’ destiny his death on the cross or was it his life leading up to his death? My inclination would be to lean more towards the directional definition. But perhaps it’s a little of both.
But, what I can’t help but wonder is, did Jesus know? Did he know exactly what he was to do and what would happen to him if he did? The scriptures seem to indicate in Luke 2 that he knew he was to be doing his father’s work. Elsewhere in the gospels there are very strong implications that he knew things that others didn’t. But did he know the last step in the journey? And, if so, did he know all the steps that he had to take to get there? And, if he did, when did he find out? Was it revealed to him all at once or step by step?
All of these questions have led me to a personal one: Can we know? Can we know our destiny? I ask this in two ways: 1) Is it possible for us to know our destiny, be it event or direction? And, 2) If we did know, could we handle it?
With these two new questions in hand, I was brought one step closer to what was really at the heart of my search…