Guest Reflection: A sense of destiny

Faith contends that in the sum total of things, if we trust God, life will work out. Photo: Michael Interisano
Published January 4, 2011

Here we are at the beginning of a new year. So let me ask you: Where do you find the power to keep going when the going gets tough? Where do get the resources to hold your life together when everything you know and love seems to be falling apart? When everything that is supposed to give you security starts to crash, how will you cope? The beginning of a new year is an appropriate time to answer such questions.

In Ephesians 1:3-6, St. Paul writes: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”

Paul is writing here about our destiny. He says that God has destined us to be his sons and daughters through Jesus Christ.

Do you believe in destiny? Do you believe you were put on this earth for a purpose? Do you believe that written into your very DNA is an ideal script for your life? And if you do believe there is a purpose for your life, do you believe that you have found it?

Some people have a very strong sense of destiny. There are people who believe that God has a plan for their lives and they seek to live out that plan. They trust God wholeheartedly. They believe that all things work for the good of those who love God and they look for evidence of God’s goodness in every aspect of their lives. These are the people who believe that God is good even when things go bad.

Corrie ten Boom was a modern-day saint. She spent a very painful time in a Nazi concentration camp and lost her sister in that camp. After World War II, Corrie traveled around the world and spoke of her war experiences in Holland and her imprisonment at Ravensbruck. She shared the story of God’s love in her life, even through the truly tough times.

In one of her presentations she would take a piece of cloth with a crown embroidered on it. She would first hold up the cloth with the lovely embroidered side showing – all the threads forming a beautiful crown. This she would describe as the plan of God for our lives. Then she would flip the cloth over to show the tangled, confused underside – illustrating how we view our lives from a human standpoint. There is a pattern to life, she would say, a pattern we may not see.

Corrie ten Boom believed in destiny. She was one of those people who believed there is a divinely ordained plan for their lives. We may not see that plan clearly or immediately, but God has a plan for each one of us.

Knowing that God has a plan for your life makes an incredible difference in how you respond to the challenges that lay ahead. If you believe God is at work in your life and has a plan for your life, you will probably be more resilient in the face of adversity, more willing to make sacrifices, and more ready to step out in faith.

Take, for example, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He had a dream, didn’t he? It was a dream that consumed him and demanded his unqualified commitment and total energy. It was a dream of the brotherhood and sisterhood of all human beings – a dream where people would be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. Every human being, he insisted, had value and worth and dignity, simply by the fact that they were children of God, precious in God’s sight.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lived and died believing that God had a purpose for his life. It makes sense, doesn’t it? If you believe that God has a purpose for your life, then won’t you be a more hopeful person, someone who believes that tomorrow can be better than today, that the best is yet to come, and that whatever the valleys and pitfalls of life God will ultimately take us to the mountaintop? If you believe God has a plan for your life, won’t you be more prone to get back up and try again after you get knocked down? Won’t you be more apt to look for ways to turn defeats into victories, if you really believe God is in control?

Someone with a strong sense of purpose in life is Nelson Mandela, the first black President of South Africa. He spent over 20 years in prison because of his opposition to apartheid. Still, he held fast to his principles. He maintained his convictions. He never compromised with evil. How did he persevere? He gave us a hint, when in a speech he said, “We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.”

What a wonderful purpose to our lives – to glorify God – for God is the ultimate assurance that there is a pattern being worked out for those who love him!

If you believe God has a purpose for your life, you are more apt to look for ways to turn obstacles into opportunities and problems into possibilities. There are people who believe that God has a plan for their lives, and because they believe that, they accomplish more than the average person.

What we are talking about is how we interpret life. Good times and bad times happen to us all. The real question is how we interpret those times. If, when we have a setback, we interpret that setback to mean that we are a loser, a failure, that we are somehow hopeless and that our lives are never going to work out no matter what we do, we are probably going to give in and give up. But if we interpret a setback as momentary, a fluke, only a pebble and not an insurmountable boulder, then we are more apt to seek to turn life’s lemons into lemonade.

Isn’t that what the life of faith is really about? Faith acknowledges that we are going to have hardships, setbacks, failures, heartache. Being a Christian doesn’t spare us from any of those things. Faith contends, however, that in the sum total of things, if we trust God, life will work out. Now it may not work out the way we want or expect or hope for, but it will work out.

Perhaps there is no greater hero in Canada in the last thirty years than Terry Fox. The one-legged runner from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia made an indelible impression upon the people of Canada and around the world. He lost his leg to cancer at the age of 19, but he said, “Nobody is ever going to call me a quitter.”

Against all odds, with little chance of success, and with initial supporters difficult to recruit, Terry Fox began his famous run across Canada in St. John, Newfoundland on April 12, 1980. By the time he reached Ontario – a journey of more than 3,000 kilometers – word of his achievement had spread and thousands cheered him and followed his progress. Finally, in Thunder Bay, Ontario he had to abandon his run when the cancer spread to his lungs and his body would not allow him to continue. When he died in 1981, Canada mourned the loss of a hero.

Terry Fox hoped to raise $22 million for cancer research – one dollar for every Canadian. He succeeded in his ambition. Today the Terry Fox Foundation has raised over $400 million worldwide to fight cancer. More than money, his spirit continues to inspire us because he embodies the most cherished Canadian values: compassion, commitment and perseverance. Even in death, Terry Fox was a winner, because he kept hope alive.

Life, you see, is a matter of interpretation. You can let setbacks have the last word or you can let God have the last word. You can see life’s tragedies as insurmountable obstacles or incredible opportunities. Life is a matter of interpretation.

  • I choose to believe with St. Paul that God has destined us to be his sons and daughters through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.
  • I choose to believe along with Corrie ten Boom that though we can only see the tangled, confused underside of life, God is weaving a beautiful pattern that will someday be revealed to us in another realm, in another time.
  • I choose to believe with Nelson Mandela that we are born to manifest the glory of God within us.
  • I choose to believe with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that God can take the power of our dreams and transform the world.
  • I choose to believe with Terry Fox that hope is the ability to outlast despair, and as a result we can rise above almost any hurdles that come our way.

That is how I choose to interpret life. That is what the life of faith is all about and I have observed that people who have such faith – who trust God in all things and who look daily for God’s blessings – live a better quality of life and are more successful than those who have no such faith,


So, I say with confidence and hope that, come what may, you and I are destined to have a great 2011. Happy New Year!


The Rev. Dr. Gary Nicolosi is the rector at Saint James Westminster Anglican Church in London, Ont. He delivered this sermon on Epiphany Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011.


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