“The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.’ But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish…to flee from the Lord. Jonah 1:1-3
“A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it. (Jean de La Fontaine, French Poet, 1621-1695) One wonders if La Fontaine was not partially inspired to write this by his acquaintance with the story of Jonah. When you look back at what transpired in your own experience with a decision you made or a road you took to avoid something or someone, what is it you have discovered as a result? A few have chosen to change their travel plans at the last moment and the plane they were scheduled to fly on crashed. Some have raced to catch the plane which then crashed. Others chose to do something else to avoid what they know they ought to have done or were encouraged to do and the alternately chosen route set their life’s course.
At the PAYH we often have considered what brought a young man to our campus other than the fact that we know God in His providence brought him to us. The young man chose to do something or not do something, he chose one path against another, with no intent whatsoever to come to a place like the PAYH in Vidalia, Georgia; yet this is where he ends up. It is always our hope, and it has so often been the case that his sojourn with us enormously impacts his destiny. This truth came freshly home to us with our just concluded 600 mile annual Bicycling Challenge in which not only current young men rode, but alumni, and parents of both. We saw firsthand the life changing influence their time at the PAYH had made on their lives and the life of their entire family; a road they had neither foreseen nor chosen for themselves just a few years ago.
It is always true that God knows the path we take, but we often do not even know ourselves which road we are going to choose until the last moment. The deciding factors, in our own minds, are not always honorable, or courageous, or wise; but the result determines your destiny; a destiny which may be good or bad, successful or ruinous. Mercifully, God’s grace can turn vinegar into wine, filthy rags into gold, and the precipice of destruction into a bridge to victory. “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. (Proverbs 16:9) It is because of Him that no one must despair of the wrong road taken, because He is able to make the crooked ways straight. All the money in the world, and all the worldly success, do not equal satisfaction, or determine a desirable destiny; Robin Williams’ bitter despair manifests such truth.
So even if you have taken a path out of avoidance, even if your appetite for sin has selected your road, it need not determine the fullness of your destiny. God always provides a turning point. No road is so saturated with quicksand that the Rock cannot become a foundation step to climb out of the pit of despair. “He took my feet from the miry pit and set me on a rock. Jonah met his destiny on a ship tossed wildly by a fierce storm, and in the way which God insured his presence in Nineveh. Is God the determining factor in your present path? If so, He is your destiny no matter what you have initially chosen. Your plans may have been such and such at one time with no acknowledgment of His presence, but now your steps are determined by Him. It is a good and glad thing to acknowledge and know. To not know it is to despair and find no pleasure in your life and vocation. But to know that He consumes your life’s path is glory.
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