Some people believe that each event in our lives has been determined for us before we were born. Fate or some god determined in advance when and how we would die, what trials were to come, whom we would marry and whatever else might happen in our life. This kind of thinking can make a person become somewhat fatalistic—and filled with the belief that they have no power to make choices in given situations—even when those choices would change the outcome. It also means you don’t have to accept responsibility for what you do.
The Bible tells us that time and chance happens to everyone (Ecclesiastes 9:11 Ecclesiastes 9:11I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all.
American King James Version×). You can be in the wrong place at the wrong time or in the right place at the right time—depending on whether you lose or win. Events in our lives can sometimes implant superstition or the sort of thinking that makes one believe someone bigger than we are is guiding each step of our lives. Many outstanding athletes have superstitions about various things—some go through pre-sport rituals. These rituals may have taken hold due to a past success during which they were wearing a certain item of clothing, tied their shoes a certain way and so on.
There is no question that someone bigger than us—our Creator—is involved in our lives and in our destinies. There are occasions when God really does guide our destiny. But it is wrong to think that we have no say in what happens in our lives. Jesus Christ had to control His will and conform to that of the Father (Matthew 26:39 Matthew 26:39And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as you will.
American King James Version×, 42). He was destined for that precise moment and yielded to God’s will by choice.
We can choose to do the work of God or choose not to. A preacher can decide whether or not to preach. The act of repentance, accepting the gift of salvation from Jesus Christ, stirring up the gift of God’s Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 1:6 2 Timothy 1:6Why I put you in remembrance that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the putting on of my hands.
American King James Version×) and continuing steadfastly to obey God (Hebrews 3:14-15 Hebrews 3:14-15 14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end; 15 While it is said, To day if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.
American King James Version×, 18) are all areas in which we have been given the ability to choose. There are numerous encouragements to do the right thing. These would not be needed unless we “could” make choices. There are also consequences of our choices—both good and bad. Our choices may or may not please God. Since God truly is God, it just makes sense that we should seek to please Him (1 John 3:22 1 John 3:22And whatever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
American King James Version×), because He controls entrance into His Kingdom. It would be good and wise to be on His side. We make that choice.
Some people, however, are destined for a moment. It seems that there are times in which God has a certain task He wants someone to do for Him. He prepares the way for that person to be able to serve, but still allows that person the final say. God wants willing servants—not slaves He must constantly control. Naturally there are great rewards for those who do strive to please God. The circumstances may not be of our choosing, or even of our liking, but the choice to serve or not to serve Him is ours.
Let us consider the example of Queen Esther. Esther was a beautiful young Jewess who was used by God to save the Jewish people. Although she was only one of many wives of the king, she was granted special favor. God’s intention has always been that a man was to have one wife only (Matthew 19:4-6 Matthew 19:4-6 4 And he answered and said to them, Have you not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall join to his wife: and they two shall be one flesh?
6 Why they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.
American King James Version×, Titus 1:6 Titus 1:6If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
American King James Version×). Esther may have wished for a better circumstance, but God used what was available. He gave Esther great favor with her husband and when her uncle Mordecai came to ask Esther to intervene with the king due to the proclamation of death to all the Jews, Esther hesitated because she knew of the dangers that she would have to face. Mordecai told Esther to consider that she may have come to this kingdom just for that moment (Esther 4:14 Esther 4:14For if you altogether hold your peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but you and your father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knows whether you are come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
American King James Version×). Yet, Esther was given the choice. Mordecai told her that if she chose to refuse, help would come from somewhere else, but she and her father’s house would perish. It seems Esther was destined by God to be ready to serve Him at this moment in time.
We can muse and wonder at the moments God has been planning and waiting for. When was Mary chosen to become Jesus’ mother? Why did God wait until Zacharias and Elizabeth were so old before He told them that they would have a son named John? God does His works for a number of reasons and purposes. Everything glorifies Him and shows His nature as well as His power. Prophets like Jeremiah, Elijah and others were chosen by God and used at special times. Like Jonah, they could refuse, but God has a way of showing us what we are to do and why. Through our yielding to Him, we grow in understanding and are closer to being in His image and having divine nature. By allowing us to choose, we also reveal what is in our hearts.
God does have a purpose for people and often works to bring about the circumstances that will cause that prophecy or statement to come to pass. The remarkable look into the future in the book of Daniel also shows us that some are destined for their moment in history. God stated in Isaiah 44:28 Isaiah 44:28That said of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, You shall be built; and to the temple, Your foundation shall be laid.
American King James Version×, almost 150 years before Cyrus was born, that he would be the king that would issue the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. That prophecy came true in 2 Chronicles 36:23 2 Chronicles 36:23Thus said Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth has the LORD God of heaven given me; and he has charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.
American King James Version×. He told of Joseph and the saving of the house of Israel. The list is lengthy of those God used at a given moment in time. All could have refused and God would have found another way. But because He is God, He can do a lot to ensure the fulfillment of that moment in destiny. God still leaves a choice as in the example of Esther. He rejoices in willing, obedient servants.
We are left to wonder in awe and amazement at the work of God. In every generation God may have assigned a responsibility to a certain individual. Perhaps the preparation of Samuel led to the moment he would anoint the first king of Israel. David’s appearing at the time of Goliath was no accident. There may be many such moments in the life of a servant of God, or there may be only one important moment. Is it possible that we could be exactly where God wants us to be for a specific reason and for a specific moment in time?
When we humbly and gladly strive to serve Him, He grants us many moments in which to act and serve. Our time is our own and God does not direct each minute. He does tell us to study and prepare ourselves to serve Him when He has a task or responsibility for us. You have had a moment, whether you knew it or not—and you will have many more if you are willing (Matthew 25:10 Matthew 25:10And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
American King James Version×). Be ready every day.