“For we are God's [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].” (Eph 2:10 AMP)
“Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own. I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.” (Phil 3:12-14 AMP)
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but [only] one receives the prize? So run [your race] that you may lay hold [of the prize] and make it yours. Now every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things. They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither, but we [do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness] that cannot wither. Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim). I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary. But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit].” (1 Cor 9:24-27 AMP)
Last week many of us witnessed Michael Phelps make history by winning eight gold medals in a single Olympics. We watched him fulfill the goal he had set for himself after the 2004 Olympics in Athens. By far the most exciting prize that he won was his seventh –the gold for the 100m fly. He won that race by the smallest measurable margin, 1/100th of a second, the length of the eraser and metal on the end of a wooden pencil. When journalists were discussing that win, one of them excitedly took the pencil and said something along the lines of, “Look at that. If that’s not destiny, I don’t know what is.” At the time I thought that was a bold statement. But then, Michael went on to win medal number eight the next day, and it did indeed seem that destiny had called his name.
The thing is, Michael did not achieve his destiny just by showing up at the Olympics. He achieved his destiny because he chose to do so. He had to get in the pool and swim 17 times to win those 8 medals, and that was just what he did during the games. Four years ago he made a decision that he would win eight gold medals in 2008. He believed he could do something no one else has ever done in the history. For the past four years he has been working every day to achieve that goal. For the past four years he spent two hours a day just working on his starts, five hours a day in the pool. Every bite of food he took was chosen based on what would best help him to achieve his goal. When people criticized him he channeled him emotions into motivation to win each medal. How many thousands of laps did he swim without the cheering crowds, with only his coach and trainers looking on? There were probably many days he didn’t feel like getting up and going to the pool, but he chose to do so anyway. He chose a lifestyle of discipline. Proverbs says, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained,” (Prov 19:18a NASB). He had a vision of eight gold medals, so he kept himself restrained to his training routine even when it was difficult to do so. He lived a life of no excuses.
God assigns a destiny to each of us. It is by grace alone that we are saved, and without that free gift of salvation we would be incapable of fulfilling our destinies. However, faith without works is dead. God has so much more in store for us than just salvation. We are not our own because we’ve been bought with a price. God desires to partner with us to establish His Kingdom on the earth and He has given each of us a role in His Kingdom. Our salvation is only partly about us and is all about Him. He needs us to find out what that role is and fulfill it through His guidance. We can certainly ignore our destinies and live according to our own choosing. If we make such a choice, God will use someone else to replace us and we will miss out on amazing blessings. Many are called, but few live up to the calling. God told Reinhart Bonke that he was fourth in line for the calling God placed on his life. Reinhart Bonke told God that He would not need to look for number five. Reinhart Bonke has won many multitudes for Christ in Africa and has seen many miracles performed for the sake of the Gospel.
Michael Phelps is limited to what he can achieve by the available resources and the strength of his own body. However, we have an advantage over Michael Phelps. Through God we have unlimited strength and resources, and we have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of us. God doesn’t give us more than we can bear, but He equips us with everything we need for the life to which He has called us. What we can achieve through Christ is limitless! But our achievement of that destiny is still up to us. Every moment of every day we must make the choice to live in such a way to achieve the prize. We must discipline and train with only God looking on. We must restrain ourselves to achieve the vision. We must walk in the Spirit so we won’t give in to our fleshly desires. We must choose to live a life of no excuses. We must ignore every distraction and focus on Christ. We must rely on His strength, not our own. We must put our hands to the plow and never look back. Through such a lifestyle we can achieve the prize!