Destiny and Design

Destiny and Design

The word “destiny” can trigger some eye rolling. A Monty-Python sort of cynicism rises up to mock the idea!

But destiny is not mystical or corny. It’s not about fame and fortune, either. Destiny is about purpose. Our particular destiny is intimately woven into our design, our DNA, the very things God created in us from the start. Yet, sometimes we don’t discover those deeper passions and purposes without His help. And often it’s altered from what we first imagined.

In my book, Closer Than Your Skin, I tell about Vincent van Gogh’s early days, when he wanted to be a pastor. For a while, he ministered with great sincerity and zeal in Borinage, a poor mining district in Belgium. He worked in the mines alongside his parishioners. He shared their afflictions and gave them almost all his earthly possessions. But in the end, the church did not renew his contract. At that very low point in his life, his passion turned to art.

Now consider the young Oswald Chambers. He loved art. Schooling developed his natural ability. So bent on pursuing art, he even said,

“I shall never go into the ministry until God takes me by the scruff of the neck and throws me in.”[i]

But one day, a devout man told Chambers with great conviction that his true calling was in ministry. Chambers had to hear for himself. He spent the night on a hillside near Edinburgh, crying out for confirmation. And sometime during the night, he heard an audible voice say, “I want you in My service…”

Of course Van Gogh went on to become a world famous artist. He told his brother, Theo, he wanted his paintings to reflect what God is like. Chambers ended up writing, My Utmost For His Highest, the most popular devotional book of all time. Their contributions left a mark, though it turned out differently than either man thought.

Picture Saul of Tarsus—persecutor of Christians! Later as Paul, he wrote letters in prison not knowing his ink on paper would be canonized for us as Scripture. Talk about a flip! God can unfold the plan for each of us, if we will watch and listen for the stirrings of His Spirit.

Many people feel stuck when it comes to purpose—“What should I do with my life? It can be an unsettling question and seem like an unending season. Van Gogh at that stage, called himself an idler and said,

“Sometimes people in this position do not know themselves…yet they feel instinctively: I am capable of something, my existence does mean something!”[ii]

On a gut level, I believe we all have purpose in the everyday, walking-with-Jesus kinds of things that bring the kingdom of heaven to earth. Small responses of faith matter, though they rarely make the nightly news—prayers for a sick child, an act of kindness, the sacrifice in self-control, and the work of forgiveness—these purposes, among many, contain the substance of our faith.

Still, I often felt swallowed up in mundane responsibilities. One day, I asked God—“How does folding laundry, changing diapers, and mowing the yard advance your Kingdom?” He told me pointedly that being a mother contributed something far more than I understood.

It was a loving rebuke.

I needed to examine my mindset. When we reach the other side, will God say, “What did you accomplish?” Do we picture Him with folded arms, tapping one foot impatiently? No. I don’t think so. I imagine He’ll ask us one important question—“Did you learn to love?”

The main thing will always be the main thing.

But having said that, I also believe God has designed us for something more, something curiously tied up with the desires of our hearts. For me, the call to write gradually became clear in my 40s. Ironically, I didn’t see it coming. Perhaps it took decades of preparation. Still, God gave clear markers and coaxed me along the way.

In the next few posts, I’m going to unwrap the signs, the inklings, the coincidences, and the sequence of events that led to me becoming a writer. God orchestrated my world, and a lot of incredible things happened! I’m hoping it will “part the curtain” a little, and show you how the Spirit of God moves and speaks. Because ultimately, He wants you to understand your design and destiny.

Stay tuned…more to come!

[i]Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God, David McCasland, Oswald Chamber Publications Association, Ltd., Discovery House Publishers, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1993, 53.

[ii]Van Gogh, Benedikt Taschen, English translation: Michael Hulse, Cologne, edited and produced by: Ingo F. Walther, Rainer Metzger, 1996, 18.


  1. susan
    i love the sign in because i always get it right! and me and arithmetic aren’t and never have been friends so see, you chose something that makes me feel good about myself! what a nice friend!

    yes, it brennan manning’s book, “the boy who cried abba”, the wise old mexican grandparent tells the little grandson that he (might be she, can’t remember) believes when the child gets to heaven, god won’t be holding court asking each of us . . .”SO, how many souls did you help get saved…?” god will ask with an excited grin . . .”SO, how’d you like the tortillas?”

    what is not to love about our heavenly abba???

    suzee B