Destination and Destiny

Cinder Cone, Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
Cinder Cone, Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

I was listening to a sermon the other night, and the preacher said, “Destination is where you are going.  Destiny is what you become along the way.”  I thought that was an interesting quote, especially as many people talk about going on ‘the journey’ with God from where they are now to where He is taking them.

Ptarmigan Ridge Trail, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington
Ptarmigan Ridge Trail, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington

Sometimes this kind of thinking can glamorize the journey.  But if you’ve been on a journey very long, you know very well it’s not glamorous or even easy all of the time.  It’s life as usual, life as you wish it never was, life with bumps in the road and surprises around the corner and decisions you know you don’t know how to make.  So instead of the glamour of “learning to journey with God,” you find that journeying with God is what life is all about.

Bald Mountain Trail, Utina Mountains, Utah
Bald Mountain Trail, Utina Mountains, Utah

I like to think of this concept in terms of a long trail to a gorgeous viewpoint.  There are times when the trail is flat and easy – maybe there are even views along the way or a pretty stream with idyllic waterfalls.  Then there are times when the switchbacks go on forever through the forest and you just wish the destination would arrive!  But the trail is part of what the hike is all about – without it, you’d be missing part of the experience.

Eureka Creek, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Pennsylvania
Eureka Creek, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Pennsylvania

Several years ago, we hiked up Goat Peak in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness of Montana.  I knew that the trail would be steep, but I wasn’t quite expecting 5 miles of steep switchbacks up the mountainside, completely in the forest, without a view in sight.  We plodded on, up and up and up, and when we finally did make it to the peak, the view was gorgeous!

Views from Goat Peak, Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, Montana
Views from Goat Peak, Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, Montana

Would it have been nice if the trail was shorter and less steep to get to the same view?  Of course!  But the trail was part of the journey.  The trail, with all its difficulty and lack of interest, was part of the experience of hiking up to see Wanless Lake and the Cabinet Mountains spread out below us.

Wildflowers on Goat Peak, Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, Montana
Wildflowers on Goat Peak, Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, Montana

When God speaks to us, He often gives us a destination – a promise or an outcome.  It’s beautiful because He knows how to give good gifts to His children (James 1:17, Matthew 7:11) and it’s good and perfect because that’s Who He is (Psalm 100:5, Psalm 18:30).  We are excited for the promise or outcome to be fulfilled right now where we are.

Peek-a-boo Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Peek-a-boo Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

But then Destiny comes along.  In other words, then we get down to brass tacks and actually begin walking the trail (so to speak) to the Destination.  Sometimes there are rocks.  Sometimes there are switchbacks.  Sometimes the path leads through quiet meadows.  Sometimes the trail is easy enough, but it’s a lot longer than we expected (I have hiked a few trails like that!)  Destiny is who we become with God along the way to the Destination.

Lexington Arch Trail, Great Basin National Park, Nevada
Lexington Arch Trail, Great Basin National Park, Nevada

I expect most of us are in the “Destiny Phase” of some of our Destinations.  In other words, we’re walking with God on His journey, still waiting for what He has said to come to pass.  Don’t squander this time with God or get impatient with His timing (easier said than done, I know).  You need the Destiny that is created along the way to be ready and able for the Destination you want to see come to pass.