Sunday, April 5, 2009

Are You My Mother? - What is Your Destiny Anyway?

"Are You My Mother?," you may have been read this book when you were little, or read it to your kids. It is kind of cute as I recall-- somewhat Dr. Seuss like. In the story, a little bird asks a host of other animals if they are, in fact, his mother. Of course, the story ends with a little bird united with his mother. There are some other children's books that have similar motherhood themes such as "Runaway Bunny." In this story the mother pledges her undivided love to her child, as she reassure him that she will be looking for him until the end of time.

Having a boatload of girls ranging in age from 3 1/2 to 21, I have always enjoyed reading these particular books to them. Mostly because they remind me of Jesus and his love for each one of us-- a love that never fails. What would it be like for all kids to have dedicated parents -- well at least one that pursues them? Regardless of what the current culture thinks about family, I have never met a kid that didn't prosper better with devoted parents. It simply changes who kids become. How wonderful it is that we have a devoted Father, one who is on our team!

For many years I have read verses that include the following:

"For you formed my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother's womb." Psalm 139:13

"For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

If you search for the word destiny, you will come up with another 15, or so, verses. The point is that we were made for something. I don't believe that our future is cut in stone and we are pulled through Christianity like a car in an automatic car-wash. We still have choices to make, prayers to pray and "divine appointments" to walk into! That is why we need to know what our destiny is. As adults, even teens, we can shape what others think about Jesus, about life, parenting, marriage, prayer, worship, and all the elements that go into making a destiny in God.

Today as I drove my 18-year-old home from church, laying on the side of the road, I saw a lonely palm branch discarded by someone on the way home from a Palm Sunday service. You may have been at one where the heard about Jesus asking the disciples to get Him a colt, simply by untying it and telling the owner, "The Lord has need of it." However if we were to update the story to something more familiar, it sounds more like a car-jacking. I saw that Palm Branch as a symbol of a time when Jesus was given glory and praise as he rode that colt in the streets of Jerusalem. It is all discarded as He draws closer to the the cross. By the time Jesus was in the Garden Gethsemane, He knew the immediacy of his destiny. If you remember His discussion with His mother at the wedding of Cana (John 2), she didn't fully grasp His destiny. I am actually not sure that she got it until the day of Pentecost.

But what about us? Do we know our destiny? Do you know your destiny? Are you sure? Have you taken any wrong turns along the way -- heck, are you on the right path now? For each one of us, we need to understand that God has a very specific path for us, which WE have to follow. He makes the road, and we have to navigate it. On the other hand, God also allows us freedom of choice, and He can make do with a plan B, or C, or D, if needed. And He can redeem past mistakes as well as time. However; that is not His first choice. But God is never caught by surprise, He has already seen the movie and knows how it will end. As the verse stated earlier, we have a future and hope, how we get there, and how close we come to the target is up to us. For there to be a happy ending, we need to obey God.

When it comes to our destiny, some times those around us can be a problem. Look Job and Jonah. Job's friends made it hard on him because they had opinions that were not of the Lord. All the guys on the ship tried to get Jonah to shore, almost thwarting the whale ride God had planned to get him back on track. The would probably be called enablers today.

Your destiny is yours. You need to work it out with fear and trembling, but you need to work it out. The best plan for each one of us is to be saved, married to one spouse (if we marry), to be free from addictions, negativity and be vigilant about our walk with the Master. When we fail, and we will, we need to keep our eye on on the prize-- His prize, that one that He has put in our hearts. The sad truth is many of us are led astray by the pursuit of happiness. Whether in relationships, work, and leisure, we usually want something different then God planned for us. Like the rich young ruler who could not sell his "stuff" to follow God, we can be like that too. Sure, there are some noble causes that God will honor in varying degrees because His principals work for every one, not just Christians. These include family, marriage, parenting and the like. However; eventually, having it our way is going to cause a bind with what God wants for us.

We must remember that He wants a relationship with us (read Song of Songs). He is less concerned about our stuff, then He is about our character and the relationship we have with Him. After all, this will be an eternal one.

Recently we've had a new foster child with us. My wife put her into bed the other night, and she was sitting up listening to a bedtime story. When Mary Anne was finished, she asked her if she wanted to lay down and go to sleep. "No, I'd like to look out the window for my mommy," she said.

Destiny, it starts with a family that trains us in the way we should go, then it should continue with a deep and personal relationship with Jesus. We need to hear that voice of God for ourselves. Sadly, some Christians never hear the voice of God, they just hear their pastor, or pick a favorite verse out of the Bible. Because the principals in the Bible are at work, they may even think they have "got it." When things go wrong they blame God. Often times they move on to another god, and then another. Why? Because they never were taught to have a relationship with Jesus, one in which they hear the still small voice of God and do it.

In between Princess Workshops, and bedtime stories, it breaks my heart to hear a toddler cry out for their mother. I feel deeply for those that have lost the ability to take care of their children, but the cycle is rarely broken. That is why we need Jesus, and that is why we need to hear from God. My family is probably God's plan F or G for the kids that end up at on our doorstep. I am tankful that we can possibly be small part of the destiny of one of these little ones-- that we might have enough grace and influence to lead even one, to the living God -- a chance for them to see the work of the cross as an act of love.

Happy Easter week.

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