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Direction vs. Destination

The destination of our journey in Christ is conformity to Him.

Feb 25, 2022

On any journey, it seems counterintuitive to be concerned with direction over the destination. After all, if you have no destination in mind the direction is pointless. Once you know where you are going, however, the dynamic changes. Every turn takes on greater significance, more care is given to each stop along the way.

The Christian Journey

Our journey with Christ shares many of the same qualities, with questions of direction and destination very much at the forefront. The destination of our journey in Christ is conformity to Him, laid out for us with clarity in passages such as Romans 8:29, where Paul declares that “whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.” It is no great mystery that in counseling we are striving to help others to see from God’s Word what it looks like to move towards this destination. It is the subject of direction where I would like to spend some time because I believe it is on this that the Lord desires us to focus. 

If the destination is the end of the journey, the directions are the means by which we get there. In our flesh we can be quick to focus on the end, failing to fully embrace the means God has established. A well-known set of verses that illustrates this is Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct (or make straight) your paths.” It is an easy mistake to read into these verses the end, or the destination. This misinterpretation can lead us to a transactional mindset that sounds something like this: “If I do what God wants, I will get what I want.” A careful reading of these verses makes it clear that they do not speak of the path’s end, rather of its direction. The end of the believer is what we have already discussed, conformity to the image of Christ, and this is guaranteed by the Lord. The direction is what we are called to focus on, and this is trusting in Him. As we trust in Him, setting aside our own understanding, we are set on the course to reach God’s destination.

One of my favorite verses to use in counseling on this subject is Deuteronomy 29:29, which says “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Categorically this verse gives us two things to consider, “secret things” and “revealed things.” To carry forward the analogy I have been using, the secret things correspond to our destination, the revealed things correspond to our direction. The secret things by definition are not for us to know, while the revealed things are given to us for action. I have found it incredibly helpful for myself and my counselees to prayerfully consider whatever I may be facing along these lines. One of the most obvious “secret things” for us all is the future, our destination. As much as we struggle with the desire to know what is going to happen in the significant and the mundane, this belongs to the Lord, and we are given every reason by Him to trust Him with it.  

The revealed things of the Lord, or His direction for our lives, are plentiful as they are simple. Single verses like Micah 6:8 bullet point things for us to focus on —doing justice, loving mercy, walking humbly with the Lord. Proverbs 1:7 tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, and so we can start there. Reflecting back on Proverbs 3:5-6 we hear the exhortation to trust the Lord, to let that trust be the direction of our lives. These are just a few well-known examples of this principle that is woven throughout Scripture. It is as we give our lives to these directions that the Lord assures our destination and we can become less consumed with what is not our concern in the first place.

God’s great concern for us is with obedience, not with outcomes. The outcomes belong to Him, the obedience is commanded of us. Rather than mistakenly consider the fear of the Lord as a great means to the end of godliness we must rightly see that the fear of the Lord is its own great end. God promises that as we devote our lives in the direction of fearing Him, He has prepared our destination and we can be confident He will bring us there.