It has been an incredible privilege to know and walk alongside a number Year 12 students in my role as a senior science teacher at the distance education school I work. Teaching Science 21 has been a highlight of my time working at the school. As I have worked most of my career in primary schools I did not even think I would teach Year 11 and 12 classes. Through teaching senior science and by getting to know many senior students in my area teaching role, I have come to love and develop incredible respect for each of the Year 12 students have worked with. I have seen their struggles, their good times and have watched them wrestle with life and who they are. I have been honoured not only to be their teacher but many have welcomed me into their life as a friend. From my time working with them, I have been able to share with them how to look at the world through a biblical perspective and help them to understand how to simply see the big picture of who God is, what He is doing and how He is working in us to fulfil His plans for us, His creation. This is a final encouragement to the students to show them what God is doing in their lives and to trust Him as he takes them on sometimes quite challenging pathways but the destination with God is always worth it. My encouragement for each student is that they understand why they are here on earth, the process they are going through as they grow in their faith and their destination.
To begin with, God is in the process of doing something mighty in the world. In Habakkuk 1, we read:
How is He going to do this? I believe it will be done through the young people He is raising up. Let's have a look at the process God is taking you on in your faith to get you to the destination he has for you..
1. Before Creation.
There are a number of scriptures that tell the story of how God planned our existence and the life He has for us to live even before He created the universe.
My favourite Psalm is Psalm 139. Please read it as it tells of how God created us and how we are fearfully and wonderfully made. It also talks about God recording in a book the days He has planned for us. Our desire is to walk in these plans:
Another verse that talks about God creating us and having a plan for us is found in Ephesians 2:10:-
In the Passion Translation, we read:
10 We have become his poetry, a re-created people that will fulfil the destiny he has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works[b] we would do to fulfil it! Ephesians 2:10 (TPT)
God has created each one of us for a purpose. He has plans for what He has designed and created us for. We are in the process, as Christians, to learn how to develop that relationship with Him so we can find what He has made us for and walk life with purpose and direction.
2. When we become Christians we enter a new kingdom where Jesus rules and reigns. We enter the Kingdom of God.
When our Science class was completing a unit on evolution I asked them. "Why did God create the world?" For me, there was a huge epiphany. I saw that God created the earth so we could get to know Him by doing things with him. We do everything through a relationship with Jesus.
Jesus came to bring in an new kingdom.
In Colossians 1:13 (NKJV) we read:
When we invite Jesus to be our King, we move from living or functioning in the kingdom of this world into operating as citizens of a new kingdom which is the Kingdom of God.
As citizens of a new kingdom, we learn how to think, act and live differently to the world as we understand that we are now part of a new kingdom.
One key difference is that in the old kingdom what other people think of us is the most important thing. This fascination with our image is destroying people today. In the Kingdom of God, we not only see ourselves as God sees us, but we also desire to grow up to be like Jesus. When we truly live for Jesus, we live a life defined by our culture. We do not live as the world lives and just modify it to be more "Christian". God is not calling us to be a subculture. Instead, God is calling us to be counter-cultural. To live being guided by what the Bible teachers and not by what culture says. To live, speak and act totally different from what the world teaches is not easy, but is liberating as we learnt to live life differently to others in our culture.
3. We Mature and grow
I would love to say that when you become a Christian then life becomes easy. Instead, just like we grow up in our physical body and mature, God's heart is that we grow up spiritually. Growth does not happen through the things that the world sees as blessings, but God takes us on a process of growing us from spiritual infants to spiritual sons of God. Growing up is often painful, hard and involves learning to trust God more and more. When we understand we are not being punished but God is taking us on a journey of growth where we often go through trials and where God challenges, shakes and grows us. He wants us to grow up so we become all He has made us to be. This is not an easy process but is definitely worth it.
In James 1, we read the path God uses for us to be perfect. It is definitely not what the world says...
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4
The trials that we go through actually bring us to a place where we can grow and go on the journey to become all God has made us to be. This is often very challenging but worth it. The endpoint is that we become perfect and lacking nothing.
In Romans, we learn that dying to our flesh is the only way to become a son of God. Sons of God are led by the Spirit and not by their own wisdom, what the world says or what our bodies want. In Romans 8, 12 and 13 we read..
Living to what our flesh desires will not bring life. The only way we can truly live is to die to what our flesh craves and learn to walk in the Spirit. The next verse tells us that we can walk as sons of God when we learn to walk having died to our flesh and walk being led by the Spirit of God.
The process of dying to our flesh is painful, but essential if we want to grow in God. In the Bible, it talks about dying like a seed and been planted so we can grow and bear even more fruit. TD Jakes has written a book titled "Crushing: God Turns Pressure Into Power". He has found that God is not focusing on growing grapes but is in the process of producing wine. We are connected to Jesus, the vine. When we are producing fruit, God prunes us so we can produce even more fruit. This fruit, though, needs to be crushed and over time is able to become the best wine. The video below is worth watching. Steve Furtick interviews TD Jakes about the book and the process of crushing bringing incredible blessing and power in his life. Joseph, in the book of Genesis, went through an incredible time of crushing, but God used the circumstances to grow Him so he could do what God called him to do. His faith and character were strengthened so he could lead a nation through one of the worst droughts in history and save his family. He says that if you are going to do something great for God you will need to go through this crushing process to be able to handle what God has for you to do in your life. Remember, though, that this crushing is a process that you must go through to reach the destination He has for you. Embrace it as something good, not as a punishment from God.
4. So what is our end goal?
God is calling us to be trees of righteousness. Hard times cause our roots to go down deep into the Word of God and the Spirit. Our foundation is Christ. With deep roots, we are able not only to withstand anything that we encounter in life, but we can also then flourish no matter what is happening around us. We have green leaves no matter the conditions and bear fruit to feed others. In Jeremiah 17 5-6 we read:-
We are actually under a curse when we put our trust in man and make flesh our strength. This is a very sobering warning of what we should not do.
In Jeremiah 17:7-8 we see the other side of the story. We are blessed when our hope is the Lord.
5. We are released as sons of God on the Earth.
As God causes us to grow up, we are released to function on the earth as God intended us to. The term son is not gender-specific but is a position. A son not only inherits all the father has but grows up to be like his father.
Creation is waiting for us to step us as sons of God. What is our role then as sons of God?
The Bible talks about three key roles:-
A. To deliver the world from bondage and release it into the liberty that God has designed it to be in.
B. To fill the earth with the knowledge of who God is. God's plan is for His creation to be filled with the knowledge of Him.
C. We are to encourage and grow others in knowing and loving Jesus.
Finally, God has created us for eternity. We look forward to spending eternity with God, and so we are getting to know God through doing things with Him on earth now. We look forward to eternal life living in a close relationship with Jesus forever. Let us work towards an intimacy with Him that will prepare us for eternity.
In James 1:12 we read:
12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
In John 3:16 we read
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
I am so thankful for God showing me this, and I pray that God will open your eyes to His plans for you and release you in the great destiny He has for you. Learn to see things from God's perspective and embrace the hard times as God is growing you and maturing you. As you get through this process, He will promote you into the amazing destiny He has for you in Him.