In a little more than 12 hours I’m going to be preaching before a congregation of no less than 30 people, on the topic of vision. I’m back in the night shift, covering for a friend and a colleague, and I’m currently on a break; I’m on the balcony this house I’m blessed with is blessed with, a warm mug of coffee conveniently on the ledge, while my camera is in position, taking 15-second exposures of the night sky, once every two minutes until I run out of memory or battery life, whichever comes first.
I could be playing Starcraft II – I just finished the Wings of Liberty campaign, and I’ve just started Heart of the Swarm, on my second run through the entire storyline. I could be back upstairs, where an episode of The Office season 9 is conveniently playing, left on with the assumption that I would be back upstairs in a jiffy. Oh, and I’ve also burned through this series once before.
See, I’m into reruns. Before The Office I remember going through the entire Everybody Loves Raymond series at least three times. Way back before that I remember playing and completing Fallout 2 at least five times. I can keep speculating on why I keep watching replays. Sometimes it’s because I want to have something familiar on while I eat. I also find it a time-killer – and when I’m less honest, I would play just one more game or play just one more episode, just so that I would be ‘in the mood’ for other things that I’m really supposed to be doing… And unfortunately, oftentimes that mood, as Calvin was once known to tell Hobbes, is ‘Last-minute panic’.
For someone who claims to have some sort of grasp in being pragmatic, and for someone who says he is into making the most of his time, I’m not actually moving up to the plate. I tell myself, it’s a relationship and/or another source of motivation that would actually get me off my ass and doing the things I think I should be doing…
…then again, why do I think I should be doing what I think I should be doing? Is it because it’s expected of me due to what I believe people think of me? Is it something that I impose upon myself in order for people to perceive me in a particular way? I mean, I’m just being honest – these things still affect me. No matter how I say that the opinion of others has no effect on me, I am led to believe that because nothing could separate me from the love of God through Jesus Christ – which, consequently means that the Creator of the Universe has the utmost regard for me – I still adjust to how people think of me… but now, not for my sake, but for theirs.
See, that’s what’s changed in my life this year. More than one pastor has agreed that 2017 would be a year of Jubilee, and I agree with them, only I’ve learned that even in this case, God calls the shots, and I’m learning that I wouldn’t want it any other way. Sure, a lot has changed as far as what I could see with my own eyes – literally, too: I have expanded my lens kit to 2 primes and 1 professional zoom lens. Things have been made new: I have a new phone, new clothes, I’ve had new travels.. I’ve established a goal list, and yes, while most of it hasn’t been crossed out yet, I still find myself accomplishing things, here and there, slowly but surely..
But what I’ve been directed to think more of this year, more than anything else, was my absolute security in Christ. I’ve been exposed to words such as Union, and Wonder – Union, as I’ve discussed in my 2 previous blog entries, is part of the salvation I have in Christ. Wonder, a topic I still have to wrap my mind around, is merely seeing Christ in everything. Because of the fact that Christ is in me, and that I am in Christ, I’ve exclaimed more than once, and even to the audience I would be preaching to, that I have never felt more alive, and I have never felt more free.
My way of thinking has changed, indeed. By the grace of God, I have repented… for back in the day I used to hate planning, because my mindset had me convinced that it isn’t going to be perfect, if it even goes a little bit my way. Today, I still hold back on planning, not because the world would eventually introduce a change of plans, but because I see the plan of my loving Father being far greater than what I see.
And, indeed, as our minds are renewed, so we are transformed. ‘To live is Christ, and to die is gain’ means so much more to me now… for as the fear of death no longer has any hold on me, and as I am no longer afraid to die, I have more time to understand what living Christ really means. What does it mean to ‘live Christ’? Well, the way I see it now, it’s to live for others. To live life for another, as For King And Country would sing. We all know Christ’s ultimate act of love was in His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, but literally every other second and every other breath He made while He walked in this bordered and time-bound reality was made… that’s right, for you and me.
So in other words, I live now, with the awareness and motivation rooted in the Truth that when I die, I enter eternity with Christ, but until then, I live free from fearing death, free to live true life with and for others.
Of course, the world would have me think otherwise, and the forces of sin and the flesh as just so relentless in bringing the focus back to me and my own pleasure and satisfaction, as if there was no change; Truth is, as Christ died and rose again, so my old heart and all of my old being was slain and eliminated, and I was literally born again – a new creation, with a new heart: a heart free towards enjoying God, one free from sin and fear and death and condemnation. We used to sing that we longed for a pure heart, and now, in Christ, we have it.
The Law came through Moses, and by the Law, light was cast upon my sin, and sin came to life. However, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ – By His grace, I was given life, and life abundant, and by His truth, indeed, I have been set free.
So when it comes to vision…
It’s the next morning. Actually, it’s the afternoon of the same day. Couple thoughts between the last paragraphs and now: Sitel’s VPP (‘Vision | Passion | Purpose’), and more recently, the song, ‘You Are My Vision’.
When it comes to having a vision, we may want to approach it in line with what our passion and purpose are. Sadly, most of us try too hard to figure these things out for ourselves, and in the process of trying to draw out something deep, we actually end up with shallow answers, and we end up hitting the drawing board again.
But then again, is there something really wrong with that? What’s wrong with trying and trying until you find out for yourself what you really want to do? What’s wrong with actually getting out there and trying stuff out, learning in the process? Am I playing it too safe by demanding that everything ought to be perfectly figured out before we actually move forward?
I guess the point that came out of all this is that we cannot establish a vision independent of our passion, and of our purpose. These are goals, yes, but they are certainly not visions.
In fact, let’s define what a vision is in the first place. I’m to preach that leaders have vision, but what exactly is a vision? The way I’m to believe it is, is that it’s some sort of grand goal, established down to a tee when it comes to details, and that supposedly is enough not just to get you, but everyone else you talk to agreeable that this is the foundation of what you ought to be doing on a daily basis.
I think we give vision all the credit when we look at it in this light… but like all things, if you put your focus on the wrong thing, you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment. If your vision is where you stand, you are, unfortunately, running a significant risk of falling flat on your face, as a result of a flimsy foundation.
I’ll cut to the chase, because service starts in a little more than an hour. Let your vision be your vision, but let your perspective remain to be your perspective. Before you even establish a vision, it helps to stand on a perspective of your own. Your passion and your purpose immediately support your perspective.
And when it comes to perspective, it helps, not to have a vast wave of doctrine, or a whole library of tenets to be the primary core of your perspective, but to know that when Christ saved you, not only were you given life, but you were made alive in Christ, and Christ was made alive in you. As Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, so live, knowing that He Himself is your Vision, your Passion, and your Purpose, integrated in everything that makes you who you are individually.
Christ does not just give you vision. He did not just open your eyes to see. He IS your Vision.
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tow’r:
Raise Thou me heav’nward, O Pow’r of my pow’r.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.