DR. PHILLIP BRASSFIELD
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind;…
Your destiny includes both Process and Product, both the destination and the journey it takes to get there, and they are both part of God’s plan for your life! But we seldom attend classes on the process part of your destiny, and it’s the part that happens first.
It’s human nature to want to skip the process part and focus on the destination. But I wonder if God is as focused on the destination as we are? Two thoughts to consider:
- Maybe with God your destiny is more about who you become, than what you accomplish?
- Maybe in the process of getting you to your highest area of production, God was really using the bait of your dream to lead you through the pieces of the process to transform you into the person He wanted you to become, using the process to perfect the person?
Maybe you were actually the project! Not just what you can accomplish!
Jamie Buckingham, the late Christian author and thinker, once said when asked how he studied for a message, “I seldom prepare the message, I prepare the man.” Let me tell you today with great certainty, God is working on you! You may not be in that place yet that you claim is your destiny, but don’t think that your destiny has not begun! God is working on you!
My proposal about the process seems to be consistent with the narrative of Scripture.
Moses didn’t simply get his MBA, attend a few leadership classes, and then lead the nation out of bondage. There was a process that led to the product of freedom for the nation of Israel.
Paul didn’t just have a dream of proclaiming the Gospel before kings and cultures. He was drug from city to city through a process that was, in fact, his destiny – every part of the process, every broken piece, every shattered moment! From the stoning in Lystra to the midnight beating in Philippi, to the snakebite in Malta, to the dungeons of Rome, it was all part of Paul’s destiny! We all want the glory of success and the joy of having a purpose that is fully realized, optimized and maximized. But let me suggest, don’t despise the process!
Every promise has a process, but wouldn’t it be great if this wasn’t the case? But for a God who is more concerned about you being than you doing, and what you become rather than what you accomplish, the process serves His purpose a lot more than the instant gratification of our desires and the fulfillment of the immediate promise.
The last 11 chapters of the Book of Genesis records the story of Joseph. He had a dream. He had a purpose. But there was first a process. It was a process that tested the very core of Joseph’s character. He was first tested by rejection, then by misfortune. He was tested by seduction, then by injustice, and ultimately, he was tested by success. And the odds are if you’re going to do something great for God, you will be too!
It is in the process that you will develop perspectives that allow you to thrive and be grateful for all of your destiny, the fun parts and the not so fun parts.
The clearest Perspectives from the Process
The Apostle Paul was an expert in the process! And there are three iconic statements the Apostle makes about destiny when dictating the thank you note to the church at Philippi that help us see how the process can change your perspective. Remember Paul is in prison with an uncertain future, facing even the possibility of torture and death.
From his words we can see what the process had done for his perspective! And I believe that it will do the same for yours.
- You’ll learn to be confident in God
Paul said, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
Let’s set a little context here. Most likely, Paul is writing this thank you note from prison. In spite of his challenging situation and the uncertainty of his future, he has found a place of confidence in the faithfulness of the Lord! He is speaking to a church filled with people who are also suffering persecution and while he is in prison himself!
The first perspective that the process will develop in you is confidence in God! Confidence, not in yourself. It’s not a self-reliance but a confidence in God’s determination to accomplish His purpose in your life. Something powerful happens when you realize that God is in relentless pursuit of His purpose in you! The process you endure will cause your confidence to shift away from your abilities and to God’s ability to finish what He starts! It’s a transfer of Trust!
- You’ll learn to focus on eternity
“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). The second change that will come to your perspective will be a change in your focus. Your focus will change from the micro perspective of self, to the macro reality of God’s will. You will become less self-conscious and more God aware. Paul essentially says, if I live, I am offering Christ a physical entrance into every conversation and situation I face. If I die, then I simply go to be with Him. Live? He’s here in me. Die? I am there with Him. Here / there is a perspective shift from self-focus, to Christ focus.
- Forget the past and reach for the future
Philippians 3:12-15 v12, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13, Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.15, therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.”
In this last passage from Philippians we see two shifts in perspective. I call these two motions the respiration of destiny. They are two steps that are so connected that Paul calls them one thing!
Respiration? Respiration is one thing but composed of two movements: breathing in and exhaling out. When we do this, the lungs take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide. In every breath there is both life and death, oxygen and poison.
Forgetting the past takes work. You have to make peace with how things are and how they worked out.
Reaching for the future takes courage and hope!
The possibilities of new faces and new opportunities are always more powerful than old opinions and old conflicts of the past. Learn to look into the future filled with divine purpose with earthly expectation! Remember, ‘there’s no limit when God is in it!’
God has a plan for you and for your life. It involves being and then doing!