Do you believe in destiny? Do you believe you were born for a reason? I’d like to believe that I was born to do something amazing. But what is it and how do you find out what you were born to do? Sometimes finding our destiny starts with the decisions that we make in our daily lives and how we respond to the experiences we have. Sometimes, one decision can change your life.

We make decisions every day. We make small decisions – what to eat for dinner, what to wear to work, and whether to get a shorter hair cut or not, for example. We also have to make much bigger decisions that have more at stake, like what to study in college, who to marry and how many children to have.

We may wonder at times whether our decisions count for anything, and if our lives make any kind of difference. I believe that just one decision can change our lives. When I graduated from college, I was looking for what was next. I wanted my life to have purpose and to matter. I decided that I would go into education to change the course of children’s lives by changing what they learned about in school.

Soon after I started my career, I learned that God had a purpose for my life. I had no idea! At first, I didn’t really want to consider anyone else’s purpose for my life, even if it was God’s purpose. I felt set in my decisions, but the more I learned about the faithful people in the Bible, the more I was inspired to examine what God had planned for me.

God gives us purpose for our lives:

24 The God who created the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands;25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, because it is He who gives to all [people] life and breath and all things. 26 And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands and territories. 27 This was so that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grasp for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. 28 For in Him we live and move and exist [that is, in Him we actually have our being], as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ 29 So then, being God’s children, we should not think that the Divine Nature (deity) is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination or skill of man. 30 Therefore God overlooked and disregarded the former ages of ignorance; but now He commands all people everywhere to repent [that is, to change their old way of thinking, to regret their past sins, and to seek God’s purpose for their lives],

Acts 17:24-30 (AMP)

We don’t often think that one decision might change the course of our lives. Let’s look at some people in the Bible whose decisions to be influenced, to pray, to trust, and to love not only changed the course of their lives, but of history itself.

The decision to be influenced

The story of Queen Vashti is intriguing and leads to the discovered destiny of another young woman and ultimately of a nation:

10 On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him—Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Karkas— 11 to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at. 12 But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.

Esther 1:10-12 (NIV)

King Xerxes wanted everyone to see how beautiful his wife was. As a result of Queen Vashti’s decision not to come before her husband, and after consulting his advisors, the king decided to never have her summoned again:

16 Then Memukan replied in the presence of the king and the nobles, “Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes. 17 For the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will despise their husbands and say, ‘King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come.’ 18 This very day the Persian and Median women of the nobility who have heard about the queen’s conduct will respond to all the king’s nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord.

Esther 1:16-18 (NIV)

Queen Vashti’s decision to disrespect her husband set in motion a series of events that would change another young woman’s life. Our decisions do have impact – positive or negative.

A young woman named Esther was then chosen from all the other women to live in the king’s palace in place of Queen Vashti. She had everything her heart desired from a worldly perspective – beauty, money, clothes, and a powerful husband. But through a terribly masterminded plot, she and all her people were threatened with genocide. Esther had to make a decision about whether she was going to do something about it or not when she was asked to approach the king with the problem and ask him to save her people.

10 Then Esther told Hathach to go back and relay this message to Mordecai:11 “All the king’s officials and even the people in the provinces know that anyone who appears before the king in his inner court without being invited is doomed to die unless the king holds out his gold scepter. And the king has not called for me to come to him for thirty days.” 12 So Hathach gave Esther’s message to Mordecai. 13 Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. 14 If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”

Esther 4:10-14 (NLT)

Esther was influenced by someone she knew and trusted to make a decision that would risk her life, but could also save it. She was influenced by someone who could see her destiny and the real reason she was in the palace. She ultimately did speak up to the king and saved the lives of the entire Jewish community by overcoming her fear (Esther 5-7). One decision to be influenced saved a nation. That decision is still celebrated today.

Who is in your life trying to influence you for good? Have you been listening to them or ignoring them? What are they encouraging you to do?

What negative influences do you have in your life? What decision can you make to silence those negative influences?

The decision to pray

Maybe you are not living in a palace. For Hannah, one decision to pray changed her whole life and the life of her family. She started off miserable. She had a husband, but no kids. She was taunted often by her husband’s other wife. In her desperation, she made one decision:

9 Once after a sacrificial meal at Shiloh, Hannah got up and went to pray. Eli the priest was sitting at his customary place beside the entrance of the Tabernacle. 10 Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. 11 And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.”

1 Samuel 1:11-12

Later, God heard Hannah’s prayer and gave her a son. She, in turn, gave her son to the priest to raise, as she had promised. What an amazing decision and an incredible love story. Her son Samuel ended up becoming one of the most influential men in Biblical times. One decision to pray brought faith and leadership to a nation.

What stops you from praying? What prayer are you afraid to pray? What prayer could change the course of your life?

The decision to trust

Hagar was a slave who perhaps never thought about her destiny. She was caught in a difficult situation:

1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress.5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.” 6 “Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her. 7 The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered. 9 Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”

Genesis 16:1-10 (NIV)

I love the story of Hagar because she was in an impossible situation seemingly without much choice. She had a miserable home life and no freedom. She ran away, but was urged by the angel to go back to her difficult home with the promise of a great legacy.

What do you do when you are in a difficult situation? It is easy to let go of our sense of destiny when pain overwhelms our hearts and we can’t see past our challenging circumstances. But when we give up and accept a compromised plan for our lives, we will miss opportunities that could be right around the corner.

Hagar indeed did trust what the angel said, despite her feelings, and made the best of a difficult situation because she believed in the destiny God had for her. One decision to trust created a generation of people.

Consider the following quote:

“Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place.”

-Unknown

The decision to love

One of the most well-known stories in the Bible is that of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Before Mary had her baby, however, her cousin Elizabeth was visited by an angel and also promised a son. The destiny of her son John was to go before Jesus and prepare the world for him:

17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Luke 1:17 (NIV)

The cousins got together after they both heard the news about the children they would have:

39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Luke 1:39-45 (NIV)

Imagine finding out that your son was going to serve your younger relative’s son. To top it off, Mary wasn’t even married and she was pregnant. Elizabeth had suffered from infertility for many years (Luke 1:7). Think about how you might feel if you were told that you were finally going to have a child and that he was going to serve your cousin’s child! Would you be upset? Perhaps you wouldn’t want that destiny. Perhaps you would feel it was unfair and you weren’t going to have your child serving anyone else’s. Perhaps you would just want your child for yourself. Good thing Elizabeth didn’t feel that way. She embraced her destiny and that of her son. Elizabeth then was able to pass her reverence on to her son John:

16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Luke 3:16 (NIV)

And John also said:

30 He (Jesus) must become greater; I must become less.”

John 3:30 (NIV)

Perhaps one of the most pervasive issues among mothers is competitiveness. We want our children to be the best – better than everyone else. We want them to be ambitious. We want them to be winners. I was talking to a parent the other day and they were introducing me to the term “tiger children.” I had heard of “tiger moms,” but I hadn’t heard that term to describe children. He went on to explain that these are children who are bred to be super competitive no matter what the cost.

Because neither Elizabeth nor Mary was competing with each other, their sons were able to live out their destinies together with admiration for each other. Their decision to love over their own agendas helped their sons to become all that they were meant to be. This is a powerful example of motherhood. I imagine that Elizabeth must have talked to her son John over and over again about his cousin and how important a role he would play in the history of the world. I think about how much faith she must have had and how she was more concerned about her son’s heart than his role. She didn’t mind him serving someone else. Ultimately, he gave his life for Jesus. I can’t help but think what I would do in that situation. One decision to love set the course of change for the world.

What about your life? What decisions have you been avoiding?  For some of us, it’s the decision to love again in our marriages. For some of us, it’s to listen to people around us and get out of a bad relationship. For some of us, it’s to go back to college. For some of us, it’s a decision to face our financial situation and trust God. For some of us, it is to deal with our health and pray with faith for answers. For some of us, it’s a decision to get to know God.

What one decision can you make that would change your life?