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  • Writer's picturetimothy martiny

Your Identity Defines your Destiny


Destiny. It's not an easy word to deal with by any means.

What is destiny? Do we have one? If so, is it definitive and set in stone? Can it change?

The dictionary definition is: "The events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future." or "The hidden power believed to control what will happen in the future."

What does the concept of destiny have to do with us as believers and followers of Christ, and why is it important?

As a missionary serving in Guatemala for 16 years, I've realized that a proper understanding of destiny is fundamental to our work. But how do we get there?

Over the years, I've realized that it comes from understanding something more profound and highly personal.

  • It comes from an understanding of just who I am.

  • I am a son of God.

  • I am adopted by God.

  • I am chosen.

  • I am someone whom God has compassion for and shown mercy to.

  • I am someone that belongs to God and is his possession.

  • I am holy.

  • I am chosen by God and a royal priesthood.

  • I am someone who understands his identity.

And that is the key.

You see, the question of your identity, "Who are you?"—leads directly to the question, "What are you here for?"

Your identity leads to your destiny.

So, how do we get this identity?

When we read the Bible, the answer is obvious. We get our identity from God. In fact, our identity is our relationship to God. We are chosen by God, possessed by God, set apart as holy by God, invested as royal priests by God, and children of God.

Peter says this in a summary statement at the end of 2 Peter 2. He refers to God like this: "Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." The light we live in is the light of our being chosen, possessed, holy, and priestly. And the way we got there is that God called us. He called us out of darkness into this marvelous light.

God gave us our identity, but what does that lead to?

Our identity leads directly to our destiny!

Peter is very specific when he tells us the precise reason for our existence.

The second half of verse 9 tells us that we exist for this reason: "that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." This is the full-time destiny of a royal priest—to make the glories of the king known.

As I look back on my life, I see it all so clearly now.

I had to discover my identity before I could fulfill my destiny.

Understanding my identity led me to embrace my destiny, which led me to serve in an orphanage in Guatemala. I thought three months would turn into 16 years of my life as a professional missionary when I felt a conviction in my heart to serve the broken.

For our first years in Guatemala, we worked serving 12 girls in a small orphanage. Nothing more. During that time, God began to give me a greater understanding of serving them well.

You see, there is something special about serving orphans that helps us better understand God's heart and our own identity.

Ephesians 1 tells us, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved."

When we understand our former identity as orphans and our current identity as adopted sons of God, then, and only then, can we understand the destiny that we are meant to fulfill as sons of God.

It means that our hardships and trials no longer define us. Being a son of God defines us.

I genuinely believe that having a Biblical perspective of identity is an indispensable part of being in ministry.

With time, those girls we served at a small orphanage were moved to a bigger one with 50 kids, where we expanded our programs to include vocational training, youth groups, and discipleship.

As we began to dig deeper into the reality of who these kids were, where they came from, and what it meant to serve them well, we realized that 80 percent of the children in the orphanage weren't actually orphans.

They had families but had been placed there for their protection. Many had been abused and neglected, sometimes in horrible ways, sometimes by their own families, and the government's solution was to put them in an institution.

Realizing this made us reconsider everything that we were doing. It caused us to desperately seek God for how we were serving and to consider if there was a better way to help these kids than an orphanage.

We thought, what if we could serve these children in their communities and help them and their parents understand their identity through a proper understanding of the Gospel? Perhaps we could keep more children at home with their families instead of seeing them placed in institutions.

God led us to one of the infamous "red zones" of Guatemala that are filled with violence and crime and from where many children in orphanages come from.

I started teaching Bible classes a few times a week in a small school, focusing on building relationships with the children and their families.

In 2016, we started an afternoon program that taught Bible classes and computer skills. 65 children signed up for classes twice a week, and the parents were thrilled to have someone there pouring into their kids.

In 2017, we added more kids and expanded the program to three times a week. Local Guatemalans started to hear about our work and got involved. Our local church started serving with us at our center, and we added programming and coding classes.

At the beginning of 2018, we moved to a bigger facility, hired a second teacher, and expanded our program to the whole afternoon.

Children come in for an hour of Bible classes, an hour of computer classes, and an hour of help with homework, and we are seeing an amazing change in their lives as they discover their gifts and talents and find their true identity.

Through ministering to the children, we now have the opportunity to minister to the parents. We have started a women's group with the mothers, and they learn about God every week.

They are learning to know God, to understand His plan for their lives, what their job is as parents, and, most importantly, what their identity is in Christ. All this is so that they can discover and embrace their destiny.

At the beginning of this year, along with expanding to a bigger facility, a fellow missionary asked us to take over running a ministry center she had started. We did and are now working to implement our community center there.

So we went from 65 kids two years ago to 100 last year to almost 200 this year.

And as I look back over the journey of my short 36 years of life, one thing becomes increasingly apparent. The better I understand who I am, not who I was, because it is not my past that defines me, but who I am today as a son of God, the better I understand what my destiny is as a servant of God and the better able I am to fulfill that destiny as a missionary.

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