In a savage world full of lost souls, what is our view of our Heavenly Father? Do we say, “What about Him, Where is He, or He doesn’t care about me?” Awaiting His second coming and seeing all the pain in the world makes these questions not too hard to ask. We are all sinners, every one of us, but our quest for knowledge and our need to reason clouds reality. The more we know, the less we believe. All the evil in the world angers God because it is evil that destroys His children. Knowing this, we still trade our love of God for our love of flesh. In Romans 12:9 we read, the One who urges us to “hate what is evil” hates what is evil. The problem isn’t that God hasn’t spoken, but instead it is we who haven’t listened. If there is no ultimate good behind the world, then how do we define what is good within the world? We are not significant because of what we do, but because of whose we are. The only thing that makes us special is the signature of God on our lives. For some, the loss of mystery has led to the loss of majesty. Rather than worship the Creator, we would rather worship His creation. It’s our job to hate the sin, but it is God’s job to deal with the sinner.
The easiest way to justify the mistakes and sin in our own lives is to find worse ones in our neighbor’s house. How dirty our neighbor’s laundry is depends on how dirty our own window is that we are looking through. We need to remember that we are not only unworthy, but that we are also unqualified to judge others. There is a fine line between everlasting life with God and eternal separation from God. Jesus is the only way to God, but we are not the only way to Jesus. God is the one who saves His children and His name is the only name under heaven that has the power to do that. Our sin is what separates us from God. Not only does sin contaminate every human being; it contaminates the very being of every human. When we are cut-off from God, our soul withers and dies, but God has a way to stop this. He makes us right with Himself through our faith in Jesus Christ. God’s solution isn’t to preserve the dead; His solution is to raise the dead. The cost of our sins is more than we can pay and it is easier to comprehend His power than to grasp His grace and mercy, unless you have experienced them personally. Until you have, it is hard to believe and almost too good to be true. Grace fosters an eagerness for good and our faith causes us to be what God’s word calls us to be. Those who choose to follow aren’t picked because they were good; they were picked because they were willing.
There are three chapters of blessing in our lives. The first chapter deals with our past; we can have peace because God has pardoned our previous mistakes. The second chapter deals with our present; we now have a place with God because Jesus has presented us to the Father. The third chapter is our future; with it we have a hope in sharing God’s glory. So now what? How do we feed our hunger and how do we quench our thirst for more of God? We have to be able to see and discern God’s dreams and visions for our life and be able to grab hold of them. When we are obeying and following God, we will know which way we are supposed to go. When God has something great for us to do, He normally starts us with something small. The road of greatness goes through the land of smallness. We must prove to Him that we are faithful in the wilderness before we can be promoted to the promise land. If we are not faithful where we are or where we are needed, we will never get to where God wants us to be. We are not to despise the day of small beginnings because God is preparing us for something big. We have to be established where we are at before we can grow to where God wants us to be. My roots are going down deep into the ground because one day soon, my branches are going to reach out into many people’s lives.
Harvesting souls is not the only job we have; there are times of planting, watering and fertilizing and it is our attitudes during those seasons that will determine when and how great of a harvest we have. Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not get tired of doing right; for in due season we will reap if we do not give up.” The longer something takes the bigger it is. Luke 16:10 tells us, “He who is faithful in little can be trusted with much.” We must do our best in whatever we do and we must be our best wherever we go. The faithful will abound! Life is a journey and every journey has a destination. Knowing where we want to go can help give us a clear vision. Finding your specific mission can give meaning to your life through your vision. As a Christian, our main directive is to share the Gospel and God’s love, but individually I believe we are also called to something that can be an integral part of our main directive. The clearer our vision is, the stronger the passion we will feel. We are the outcome of something God envisioned and in His vision for all of us; He has prepared something specific for each one of us to do. The sooner we see what direction God wants us to go, the sooner our lives will have reason and the sooner we will know which way to go. One of the greatest tragedies in life is to miss out on God’s plans for us. I recently finished a book by Andy Stanley called “Visioneering” and he sheds some great insight on casting a vision. He says, “Vision is a clear picture of what could be fueled by the conviction that it should be.” His book details the story of Nehemiah and his vision to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem during the reign of Xerxes. Nehemiah’s vision turned into a moral imperative and for him to do anything else would have been in direct disobedience to God. God has been working in me to prepare me for what lies ahead and my vision is nothing more than an extension of God’s vision for my life. Throughout scripture there seems to be a correlation between the preparation time and the scope of the task in which people were called to do. During the time of preparation it is important to remember that waiting on the Lord does not reflect a lack of faith; instead, it normally reflects an evidence of wisdom. When we do not wait on the Lord, we see what we are looking for and miss what we did not expect to see.
Andy Stanley talks about the difference between dreamers and visionaries. He says, “Dreamers dream about things being different, but visionaries envision themselves making a difference.” Visionaries are looking for an opportunity to do something and when they are praying to God for something, they are praying for an opportunity to have a role in it. God ordained visions are always too big for us to handle alone. The plan that is unfolding in my life has been masterly crafted by God. He has been working behind the scenes and is using all of my circumstances and experiences to position and to prepare me to accomplish His vision for my life. Looking back and seeing God’s hand at work was the easy part; looking ahead and trusting Him takes faith. No matter where we are at or what our present circumstances are, God is very much in control and He has positioned us here with a clear purpose in mind. We must remain faithful to do what we can, while trusting in the Lord to do what we can’t. We must remember that nothing is impossible with God and what He originates He orchestrates. It is truly amazing what we can accomplish when we wait on God, and it is equally terrifying the disaster we can cause when we try to do things our own way. God uses the time before our vision is launched to fasten our faith to Him. A vision is always a solution to a problem; it attempts to alter the present for the sake of a potential future. Nehemiah’s vision was more about a demonstration God’s power and promises than it was about rebuilding a wall. No matter how big or small our vision is it is still a vital part of God’s master plan. Our visions have immense power. Larry Crabb says, “A vision we give to others of who and what they could become has power when it echoes what the spirit has already spoken into their souls.” Our words point people in a direction; they can encourage or discourage, they can build or destroy, and they can heal or hurt. Visions have the power to captivate us because they capture our imagination and engage our hearts and minds. They can give us a sense of destiny and they can lift our eyes off of today’s realities and help us focus on tomorrow’s possibilities. When we speak to someone’s potential and not their performance, something amazing happens. What could be comes to be. God chooses to work through people who are willing to make sacrifices for the sake of the burden He places in their heart.
Whenever we attempt to bring about change, we must be mindful of the way people feel about change. It plays on the insecurities of those who have grown accustomed to the way things are and have always been. People with no vision feel threatened by those who have decided to do something with their destiny. For a vision to thrive there must be an alignment between conviction and action and between belief and behavior. We must walk the talk. Trust can take a lifetime to earn, but can be lost in an instant. As a leader we must be willing to do the right thing even if that postpones or threatens our vision. At all costs, we must always do what is right. Abandoning our morals is a compromise that will strangle any vision. If it is from God, He will make a way. The most powerful argument a person can make comes from personal experience and if you are not of sound moral character, no one will buy into your vision. Saying what you would do and what you actually do are not the same thing. The way we live speaks louder than anything we will ever say.
We all have a ministry and we all must be careful not to confuse our plans with God’s vision. Whatever we do and wherever we go, we will most likely encounter people that are hurting. Speaking just a word of encouragement into their lives can make us a healer. We are never more like God than when we are helping hurting people. Being sensitive to the needs of the people around us enables us to lift the fallen, to heal the hurting, and to restore the broken. Sometimes we can be so focused on our own dreams and our own visions that we forget that we can become someone else’s miracle. To be a healer and someone’s miracle we must be willing to make a sacrifice and in some instances we must be willing to change places with those that are hurting. We must take the time to care for them and to actually listen to what they are saying. To be a healer and to have a vision, we must be part of the solution. God puts people in our path for a purpose and part of that purpose is for us to love them back to wholeness. We can’t see what is going on behind the scenes in people’s lives, but for so many, they are living daily with heartache and pain and as a society we have become masters of hiding and suppressing our true emotions. Day-in and day-out we continually get dumped on. It is one negative thing after another; our shields are always up and we exist just trying to keep it all together. Love never fails and when we live as healers and take the time to care, walls will begin to fall and hardened hearts will become receptive. In a lost and hurting world, our purpose needs to be to do some good. Life is hard and people are looking for streams in their deserts and they are looking for safety and refuge in their wildernesses. When the Spirit of Jesus is on us and reigns over us we can become a refuge, a shelter, a stream of water, and we can become a rock in His name. How awesome would it be for someone to tell you, “Something about you reminds me of Jesus?” Every single one of us can become a refuge of God to His people; this can become our purpose for living. Every single thing we have been through can be used by God to make us a refuge. Believing this and living this gives us peace and freedom. God can use anything, especially our failures. When we know the way out of a pit, it is our responsibility and it is our moral imperative to show others the way out and to bring glory to God by our actions.