The other day my wife and I were talking about Hebrews chapters 10 and 11. After reading a portion of the scripture she commented that what stood out to her were the words vision and purpose. As we looked at that in context with the passage, it became clear that the vision and purpose were not the same as that I had taught about for years in the traditional church. I saw something that caused me to pause and think about this. For years I have preached—as well as practiced—the importance of having a vision—as well as a plan on how to fulfill that vision. For years I strived to accomplish that vision in both my personal life as well as that of the church. I know that I have not been alone in that approach. I know that many—if not most—of the pastor’s in my world were doing the same. In fact as a pastor to pastor’s, I was in the process of instructing them how to accomplish that very task until the Father invited me on a journey—and what a journey it has become!
What I saw the other day in that portion of scripture challenged me. In the middle of chapter 11 is a passage that states: “All of these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth…Instead they were looking for a better country—a heavenly one.”
Their vision was not how to accomplish anything. Their vision was the King and His kingdom. Their vision was eternal, not temporal. This is why the things that happened to them in this earthly realm did not overwhelm them. They were looking far beyond what this temporary sphere has to offer. This is why the humanity of Christ could endure the shame and suffering of the end of his life. His vision—if you will—was to do the will of him who sent him. Our king embraced the eternal blessing—the vision—that waited on the other side of the temporal challenges.
What does this mean? Let me be quick to state that I believe in vision—we must have a vision. I believe in a plan to carry out the vision. But what if we have allowed the vision to be a temporal one—no matter how religiously great it might be? What if our plans to carry out that temporal vision have been steeped in religious works rather than works of faith? Perhaps this could explain why so many plans fall short leaving us feeling defeated rather than encouraged in the faith?
The point to be understood is this. The bible tells us that the Father thinks about us. His thoughts are of a hope and future. Are we seeking a vision based on what the Father thinks about us or are we seeking a vision based on something else? I have some understanding of this as the father of five children. Three of them are girls and two boys. Two of them are now adults and into their lives while three are still directly under our care. My desire, my vision for each of them is far greater than what any of them have stepped into. This isn’t to say that I am ashamed of their lives—not at all. It is to say that I know what I would like to see happen in their lives. I know that the vision for them shapes and determines how they are trained and taught. I also know that what their mother and I desire to see happen in their lives isn’t always what happens in their lives! I know that they have a will that ultimately determines the course of their lives. That will either submits to—in varying degrees—the vision of the Father, as well as that of their parents—or it will reject—again in varying degrees—it. Whatever happens does not for a heartbeat change to vision that I/we have for them anymore than it changes the heart or purpose of our heavenly Father for them—or us. The point to be taken in this is the fact that there is a vision. Proverbs tells us that without a vision we—God’s people—perish. One translation says that we are made naked—could build a case for society today. I don’t know if you have ever thought about it, but generally a naked person doesn’t walk around upright and confident. Instead they hunch over—so as to cover their nakedness—and run for cover. On the other hand a vision that is based on the “gimme, gotta have” in this life will cause one to be arrogant, cocky and self-righteous. Perhaps that is a question that needs to be asked behind ones vision. Does it make you duck and run meaning no vision, or does it make you strut meaning temporal vision, or does it cause you to stand and endure whatever because it is based in eternity?