The Power of Vision
Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
Some people have a clear vision for their lives, and they gladly subject every aspect of their lives to fulfill their life purpose. Most of us, though, muddle through with only a vague sense of meaning and direction. Some of us dream too much, and some dream too little. Of the two, the latter is worse than the first. If people are moving, they can be steered in a better direction, but if they’re stuck, no amount of steering will do any good.
Where does vision originate? Some of us have a personality type that naturally identifies goals and pushes us to achieve them. Others have grown up with parents or other mentors who saw latent potential in us and inflamed the embers of desire to accomplish great things. An imparted vision is just as powerful as one we develop on our own. If we don’t have a clear, compelling sense of purpose, we need to hang around people who can rub off on us.
If you look for these people, you’ll find them in almost any organization. But be careful of whom you hang out with. Many people have powerful goals, but they are almost completely self absorbed. Find someone whose purpose in life is to love and serve and build others up- and camp out with that person!
Go as far as you can see, and when you get there, you will always see farther.
A vision without the ability to execute it is called hallucinating! Every God-given vision will result in being fulfilled; every man-concocted vision will be a dead end.
Many people have dreams and churches often spend countless hours trying to define their vision but few people and fewer churches seem to find their preferred future- their dream or vision. Why? Because visions require work, change, and commitment. It’s easy to talk about where you want to go or what you’d like your future to be but it ought to be obvious that the place of a preferred future cannot be experienced without work, change and commitment. Most of us have lots of wishes and they may sound great but the implementation of plans to get us to that place challenges us in every way. What separates the dreamers from the visionaries?
First of all dreamers have no true goal. Most of their thinking is wishful thinking that requires little or no effort on their part. Dreamers really don’t want anything they’re doing to change but they would like a different outcome. Dreamers wait for the right person to make it happen or the right time and factors to fall into place. Visionaries assess their current status, determine where they want to go, and create strategies to get them to their preferred future. They are aware it will take hard work to change their status. They take into consideration that it may take time and there will be setbacks so they commit to their vision before they move. They are aware that the vision will produce change, some wanted and pleasant, others unwanted and unpleasant. They consider neither a reason to cease pursuing the vision.
When God sent Moses to deliver the Israelites from Egypt, they struggled in their journey because while they wanted the benefits of the Promised Land, they were reluctant and often refused to make the changes or to move to a new location. And a whole generation never got to see the vision become a reality. They died short of their goal because they couldn’t seem to embrace the vision. Instead they constantly focused on their present condition and often longed to return to their previous world.
On the other hand when Nehemiah went back to Jerusalem to rebuild it, he and the people embraced the vision. Nehemiah records that there was a willingness by the people to work so they began to rebuild the wall. As they engaged in the monumental task, they were also having to defend themselves from those wishing for the wall to remain torn down and the people continuing to remain vulnerable. But because of their commitment to the vision, they worked with a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other. They endured the mocking of the community, the discouragement that hounded their steps, and the pressures to give up. Yet they continued onward toward their goal and vision until at last they saw the fulfillment of their vision.
Both groups had been given a God-vision but their response was a lifetime apart. The Israelites under Moses rebelled and resisted, they refused to make the necessary changes or to do the work willingly. Because of that their dream died with them and they never tasted milk and honey of the promised land. The Israelites under Nehemiah and Ezra committed themselves to the vision and enjoyed the freedom and blessings of having their own city.
All of us have an unwritten future and any of us can choose to seek and find a preferred future. The opportunity is available to us but we must know it won’t be easy. Paul says it this way:
For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.
1 Corinthians 16:9
I believe that every person has the opportunity to have a glorious preferred future. It will require a discovering of a God-given vision, hard work, change and commitment.
Every church can attain to what the Bible describes as “a glorious church without spot or wrinkle” if that church will take the time to discover and define its preferred future-vision and then go to work to bring it to pass like the Jews rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. If that church is willing to accept that it’s future depends on its willingness to make the necessary changes that coincide with its vision, and if it is willing to commitment to do or make the necessary changes, that church has great odds that it will experience fullness of the promises of the vision.
One day there were some lepers sitting outside the walls of Jerusalem. The city was besieged and the people inside were on the verge of starvation. As the lepers talked among themselves, one said, “Why sit here till we die? There’s food in the enemies camp and perhaps we will be fed. If not and they kill us, we die anyway.” So those lepers got up and went to the enemies camp. Upon arrival they found the camp empty so they feasted. And then they decided it would be good to share their bounty and they took the news to the city and the people were spared.
The point is that if we choose to take no action, if we just sit where we are and wish for a better future and refuse to make any change or commitment; then we choose death.
It’s up to us personally and as a congregation. Will we move toward the preferred future or will we remain set in our ways until we die never experiencing all that we might have enjoyed?
Dr. John Thompson