This begins a four part message series called “Destinations”. Today’s message has a simple but powerful principle attached to it. If you catch it and actually follow it, great destinations will follow. Our direction, not our intentions, determines our destination.
Our direction, not our intentions, determines our destination.
Life is a path and it’s going somewhere. The choices we make are steps on that path. We arrive at a destination that is determined, not by where we want to go but where we choose to go.
We’re kicking off a series of messages about destinations, places we arrive at in life. It’s a little like a trip we might take.
So you know what my dream vacation is?
I would love to take the Zephyr train across the country to California. We would have to get ourselves to Chicago to begin with. And once we got on the Zephyr we would travel, through the night, through the next day and on. Thirty seven hours of America out your window. Along the way we could, if we prearranged it, get off in certain cities along the route. So we could get off the train, spend some time in say, Denver, rent a car, check out that part of Colorado and in a day or two get back on the train. Wouldn’t that be cool? After whatever pauses along the way in whatever cities, we would eventually end up in San Francisco and then explore the coast from there. Sounds pretty adventurous, eh?
But here’s a question: What steps would I need to take to arrive at that destination? There’s all the preliminaries, right? The tickets, the planning, the arranging of time off. And then there’s getting on the train.
So what happens if I get on another train for some reason, buy the wrong tickets, whatever, get distracted because I just saw that my favorite actor is getting on a different train? What if I got on a train headed East instead of West? I would arrive at a destination alright, it just wouldn’t be the one I had hoped for, dreamed about and maybe intended to go for.
What I’m going to say to you today isn’t rocket science.
But it is a principle or a law. Our direction, not our intention, determines destination. Just like gravity. You can defy gravity for a time, but what goes up…
So let’s dig into our text for the day: Galatians 6.7-9
7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
Let’s look at this another way. Farming. Old McDonald decides he’s going to grow and harvest soybeans. In the Spring he prepares the soil. Tilling, discing, and eventually sowing. He may spray the crop as it grows with pesticide and fungicide. He will cultivate so that the roots have plenty of oxygen and the weeds are not a problem. He will make sure that there’s enough water, so he may irrigate if it’s really dry. Then harvest season comes. He’s been looking forward to that all year. But to his everlasting disappointment instead of soybeans his crop is all green beans, worth half of what his soybean crop would have yielded. What was the problem?
He didn’t sow the right seed. He didn’t want to offend his brother in law who said he would buy and load up the seed. He never double checked. He didn’t take the right steps on the right path. And in the end his destination had nothing to do with his intentions. Again, not rocket science.
So Bruce, why are you preaching such a simplistic message? Is this a self-help thing?
Why? Because there’s likely not a person in this room that doesn’t have regrets.
And conversely, everyone in this room has a future with destinations.
How did you get to that regretful place?
The sad, broken marriage. The addiction. The mountain of debt. The work disaster. The cycle of bad relationships. The bitterness. Dropping out before the degree.
You arrived there because of directional steps you took to get there.
Don’t say, “How could God let this happen?” He probably put people in your path to question you. But you didn’t pay them enough attention. “I can handle it”, you said. But you couldn’t.
You took those alternate steps on another path because of reasons associated with short term vision.
I want to meet and marry my future spouse and live happily ever after. But I’m attracted to this sort of bad boy that’s available right now. So we end up doing bad boy kind of things and it was fun but here I am with a broken heart or pregnant or living with him and he’s abusive.
I want to have a good marriage but we’re having some struggles right now. I’m at work and there’s this really sympathetic woman co worker that’s been a great outlet for me. Problem is that now we’re having an affair. How did I get here?
I’ve always had a dream about becoming a lawyer and now I’m in college. But homework for the classes I’m taking right now is so boring, so I’ve been blowing that off in favor of some parties and social activities. It’s good to relate to new friends and other people, right? Only thing, I don’t have the GPA to make it into law school.
Why did God do this to me?
In each of those scenarios there’s the understanding of the concept of destinations but there’s some fundamental truth and practice that each one is missing.
A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself; The simple pass on and are punished.
Two kinds of people discussed here.
The prudent man or woman and the simple or naive person. What’s the difference?
To be prudent means to see the future in terms of today. So a prudent person takes a look at where things are going and takes steps accordingly. If there’s trouble ahead we circumvent or prevent the trouble, hiding ourselves away from the trouble.
For example, you know that there will be an unexpected expense in your future, right? The car will die, the roof will leak, the fridge will stop working, you’ll have some unexpected problem like losing your job. A prudent person has an emergency fund. Starting with a goal of having $1000 in the bank and building it to 3-6 months of living expenses. What happens when all four tires need to be replaced? No problem. You’ve got an emergency fund for that. You sleep well at night. Because you saw the future and made good steps today. That’s prudent.
The naive person just thinks about what’s in front of them now and doesn’t anticipate the future much. So there’s a cool car here for a monthly payment that I can just afford because it’s on sale! I can just see myself driving that baby down the road. Very cool. So is this apartment, it’s pretty sweet, and so is the jumbo-tron TV that I’m paying on too. Until the inevitable comes. I can afford all this if I don’t have anything get in the way but I just lost my job. And here comes the repo guy. And I can’t pay my rent any more, so where am I going to live? Why did God let this happen?
Something always gets in the way. Always. But the naive keep going and are punished by their own steps on a path whose destination is bankruptcy. Or worse.I talked with a young teen girl, with her grandmother, a few years ago. She was getting into some trouble, so Grandma brought her in to see me. After talking and figuring out some of the reasons she was inclined this way I drew her a map with two paths outlined. One had steps that included wrong friends, wrong choices with a disastrous destination. The other path had steps that included listening to parents, getting the right friends, doing homework and attending class. The destination was a good future. Know what she did? She just got out of three years of juvenile detention. Why? The short term thinking fueled by her anger, hormones and desire for adventure were what she naively gave in to.
We need to think about the future in terms of the steps, path and destination we walk toward today! That’s what differentiates the prudent from the naive.
So let’s get more personal here.
Each of us has a past. We are where we are because of steps on a path, that’s our present that’s where we have arrived. Each of us wants our future to be great or at least better. Could it be so simple? Yes. With God’s help we can change our steps, our path and our destination.
Think about the path you are on today. Where does it lead? If you continue to do the same things you’ve always done what will be the result?
Apply that thought to your personal life, including your health, your finances.
Now to your family/relationships life.
Now to your spiritual life.
What step down what path is needed right now?
Will you take that step, even if you’re afraid, even if it brings up emotions, even if you need help to take it?
Don’t be fooled! Whatever you sow, you will reap in another season.
Our direction, not our intentions, determines our destination.
Next week we will talk about being on the right side of history.
Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life and there are few who find it.