Direction Determines Destination
Written December 2019
5And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15 ESV)
As we approach 2020 my heart is filled with anticipation over the possibilities of what the new year will hold. If you’re like me you’ve run through dozens of thoughts about what you could accomplish in the new year from eating healthier to learning a new skill or reading so many books. Whatever your goal is I hope you not only succeed but accomplish your goal in record time.
As we plan for this new year my hope is your faith is included in your New Year’s resolutions. At this time of the year, it is always good to make a resolution that would help bring you closer to God and have stronger faith and commitment to our Savior.
If you are planning on making a New Year’s Resolution I would encourage you to remember these three simple words. Direction determines destination. I hear those three words at a conference and they are very powerful. Direction determines destination.
Feelings, as powerful as they might be, good intentions, even coming from the noblest of hearts, or even intents, born from a desire to change the world for the better, will never change anything. It is the direction we go in that determines the outcome of our year.
In Joshua 24, Joshua is calling on all the people to make a choice. At the beginning of this chapter, he gathered the people at Shechem and reminded them of their history. He told them of their ancestors and how God guided them and multiplied them and then recounted what God had recently done to bring them to the place they were standing now.
Joshua then puts forth a call for them to choose whom they would serve. They were to choose either the gods of all the people around them or the God of Israel. Essentially what he was asking them was to choose the direction they would go in their lives. He knew that if they worshipped the one true God their lives would go a very particular direction which would be characterized by God’s blessings and obedience towards Him. If they worshipped the gods of the Amorites and the gods of those that surrounded them their lives would take a very different path.
Joshua knew the direction of the people’s lives would determine their destination far more than the words of their lips or the heritage of their family. Over and over again the people of God verbalized their commitment to God and communicated their intent to follow Him but it was the direction of their lives that ultimately brought them closer or further away from God.
Let me illustrate this principle. In college, because of my major, I was surrounded by guys that were pursuing positions in ministry. Some felt called to be in youth ministry while others were seeking senior pastor positions. If you talked to them, all would tell you a great story about being called into ministry and their desire to serve in a church somewhere or start their own ministry reaching a particular group of people. Some had great dreams and aspirations but it was the direction they were going in that would eventually determine the outcome of their lives.
Of the many people I knew back in college, only a few are actually serving churches now. Why you might ask. Direction. While many focused on their studies and pursuing the knowledge that they needed to enter into the pastorate others focused on girls and their social life or sports or any number of other things. Their spoken aspirations were clear, ask them and they would tell you a grand story. Their direction, however, was different, it was pursuing something contrary to their dreams. Ultimately, many of my fellow classmates dropped out of their pursuit of the ministry and pursued other avenues of employment. Their direction determined their destination.
The same is true for your life as well. Your direction is determining your destination right now. It will determine the outcome of your New Year’s resolutions be it in your health, your faith, or whatever you pursue. So the big question is what is your direction. Let me break it down into two questions. First which way are your feet pointing? Second, which way is your faith pointing?
Which way are your feet pointing?
Where are you going in your life? What things are you surrounding yourself with? What are you pursuing? If your goal is growing your faith and having a deeper understanding of God yet your Bible remains closed and your time spent praying can be measured in seconds then your direction does not match your destination. An athlete training for the Olympics does not surround themselves with Lazy Boy recliners and couches. They are not found binge watching Netflix and sitting idly watching others in shopping malls. That is not the direction of their lives, they are at the gym lifting weights and running. They are training in the rain at 5am striving to be their best and win the gold. Their feet are pointed towards the awards podium and they are pursuing that with all their might.
Where are your feet pointed today? If you continued to go that direction where would you end up? Is it time for a change of direction? Is it time to surround yourself with something different and pursue a different goal.
Which way is your faith pointing?
Numerous studies have been done about who plays the lottery and why. Research has shown over and over again that the group that plays the lottery the most are those in poverty, basically, those who cannot afford to play are the ones who pour the most money into it. The reason that the poor play the lottery the most is saddening. Simply put they buy tickets because they feel that it is their best chance at no longer being poor. A Carnie Mellon University Study says this “The hope of getting out of poverty encourages people to continue to buy tickets, even though their chances of stumbling upon a life-changing windfall are nearly impossibly slim and buying lottery tickets in fact exacerbates the very poverty that purchasers are hoping to escape.”
Where our faith is pointed will determine so much about the direction of our lives. Where your faith points is where your hopes and dreams find worth and where you see value in your pursuits. If our faith points towards the lottery then we will pour money into it even if the tickets say that there is only one in three hundred million chance of winning. If our faith points towards food then we will try and use it to fill the emptiness of our lives. Wherever our faith points is where we will put our efforts because there is where we find worth and value.
Today, what do you trust? Where is your faith as we enter into 2020? Is it in money, or some material thing? If it is then that is what you will pursue this year regardless of the consequences. May I encourage you today to point your faith towards God and pursue Him this year with everything you have. I know one thing, at the end of 2020 you will be able to look back and say it was absolutely worth it.
In verse twenty Joseph comforts the fears and anxieties of his brothers by sharing the insights he has gained through a life of suffering and triumph. In essence, he tells his brothers, “Don’t worry I have seen the big picture.” Joseph conveys that he understands that so many decades ago his brothers meant to do him harm and evil in selling him into slavery. Joseph, better than anyone, understood how his brothers’ wishes came true as he suffered as a slave, was falsely accused of a crime he did not commit. He suffered in prison, forgotten by those he helped, experiencing untold depression, anguish, and anger. Yet Joseph understood that all these things, as evil as they were, had a greater and better purpose in his life. God used the evil and vile betrayal of his brothers to move Joseph to a vital and powerful position in Egypt which allowed him to save his family and in turn an entire nation from extinction.
Joseph learned, that even though he went through trials that were terrible and unjust, to look back on those times with a vision that looked at the big picture. Rather than focusing on the injustice that was brought against him, he saw the hand of God moving and working for a good far greater than he could have comprehended at any point in his trials.
One of the struggles that we face, in enduring hardships, let downs, and betrayals, is to continue to look beyond our current hurt and realize that God is working on us and through us in our pain. Pain and heartache often make us look at life through a microscope instead of a panoramic lens. We only see the now and the discomfort but what Joseph’s story reminds us of is to always look at the Big picture. That there are things going on all around us that only God knows about and He is orchestrating them for a purpose that will bring Him glory and honor.
Today if you are going through one of those shadowy parts of life where it seems the sun will never shine again let me tell you, I’m so sorry that you are going through that. Agony is never a pleasant road to travel upon. My hope is that you can see, just as Joseph revealed to us, that things do happen for a purpose, and though we might not see it immediately, God, in His perfect timing, will reveal it all to us.