The concept of destiny is a reoccurring theme in Star Wars. In episodes one through seven the word is used thirteen times. The Youtube cartoon series is called Forces of Destiny and the popular card and dice game is called Star Wars Destiny. We often think of destiny as an unavoidable future that is bound to happen no matter what. However, that is not quite how the term destiny is used in Star Wars. By and large whenever destiny is used in Star Wars it is used by the side of evil in attempt to manipulate others. When Darth Vader tries to convince Luke to join him in Empire Strikes Back he tells Luke it is his destiny three times. The Emperor tries a similar tactic in Return of the Jedi. More often than not when destiny is mentioned in Star Wars it is to convince someone to make a choice that will have a multitude of future consequences (which in Star Wars that choice tends to be turning to the dark side). In essence the choice becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts where it becomes one’s destiny because that is the natural outcome from the choice.
In Empire Strikes Back, Yoda confirms this when he states, “Once you choose the dark path forever will it dominate your destiny.” In Star Wars, destiny is not a fixed, unavoidable event but rather it is the outcome of our choices. Or as Qui-Gon Jinn puts it in The Phantom Menace: “Your focus determines your reality.”
For Christians destiny is a bit of an uneasy topic. On the one hand we do believe that God has a plan for our lives. We believe that God leads and guides us certain ways. On the other hand though talk of destiny and the future calls up all kinds of troublesome images of portents, omens, horoscopes, palm readings, and other mystical mumbo-jumbo that is really not godly . Talk of destiny and God’s will is also problematic. It is not hard to find people with amazing testimonies of feeling that God was leading them a certain way, everything worked out providentially, and it seems taking a God-led risk was indeed their destiny. However at the same time, in the last presidential election more than presidential hopeful either declared or accepted someone else’s declaration that it was God’s will and their destiny to be president. Yet that did not come to pass for them. It seems it can be hard for us to put our own wishes and ambitions aside. A lot of people fall into the trap of confusing their will with God’s will. Part of discipleship is humbly seeking to follow God day in and day out so we can learn to discern between our own will and the Spirit’s leading.
While that is true, it is not terribly helpful to us here and now. We are at the beginning of a new year. A new year is full of expectation, of possibilities, of unknown days waiting to be written. This is the time of the year the year when we turn to thinking about destiny as we are curious and full of anticipation about what is in store for us. We may not what God’s specific plans for 2018 are, but we do know some standing commands we have been given. Jesus told us to love God with all of our being and to love our neighbor as ourselves. He also commissioned us to make disciples of all the nations. Through the prophet Micah God gives us a directive in Micah 6:8 to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. What if we held ourselves to those higher standards? What if we did not treat those scripture like mere suggestion, but we treated them like expectations? What if we committed to live out the commands of Christ each and every day?
If we truly did that, then it would become a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you committed yourself to love God with all of your being then it would be your destiny to walk humbly with God as you blossomed the fruit of spirit of faith, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and goodness. If you committed to love your neighbor as yourself then it would be your destiny to see a great need, an injustice that needed fixing. With great mercy it would be your destiny to put others before yourself, serve them in love, meet that need, and transform the world. If you committed to making disciples, then it would be your destiny to share the gospel with other and be used by God to lead a soul to know the saving power of Christ for the first time.
We are starting a new year, and this is as good of a time as ever to commit yourself to a more faithful and righteous Christian life. May you hold yourself to higher expectations in faith. May you not settle for good enough but may the deepest desire of your heart and soul be to love God, love other, and make disciples. May your focus on Christ indeed determine your reality. In doing so, may you find in 2018 that you become closer to God and more Christ like than you ever thought possible. Because as disciples of Jesus, that is our destiny.