Sleep eluded me as I thought and prayed about the work to which God has called me. What is that? I am called to share His gracious offer of eternal life with others, to push back against darkness, to point people to hope and purpose. The methods that were effective in 1987, a half of a life-time ago, may not serve Him well in 2017. “So, Lord,” I prayed, “how do we do your work in our place and this time in a way that honors You and invites people to know You?” My thoughts went to Nehemiah. He, too, felt the call of God and knew what needed to be done. His question, “How, Lord?”
Nehemiah heard the stories of the land of his father. The city of God, Jerusalem, had been devastated by invasion. He remembered hearing of the splendor of God’s Temple, of the shining city on the hill, but today he heard only of broken down walls, ruins where the temple had once stood and God’s Spirit stirred deeply in him. He said, “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept.” But, Nehemiah was not content to wring his hands and shake his head! A holy passion fired a vision in him. It was something of an impossible dream – rebuild Jerusalem. This man, who lived in a city that was at least a full month’s travel from Jerusalem, ‘saw’ a new city arising from the ruins. The rest of his life was consumed with making it happen. That’s what we call – vision!
A lot of literature is written about vision and the power found in it. True, enough, but the other side of that same idea informs us that great spiritual visions are birthed in moments when some great need and/or deep sorrow becomes too obvious to ignore. Neither need nor sorrow are things we willingly experience. If we will not look at the need that is around us, if we refuse to weep over a broken world, it is not likely we will dream large. Left to ourselves we will choose the safest route, the way that is well traveled, and take it! We need to be disturbed. Just as a farmer must rip open the sod in order to plant the seed that will bring the harvest, God must plow our hearts, opening us to the seed of His Spirit.
A person in whom God has planted a true vision is a dangerous, often difficult, single-minded individual who disturbs others! Nehemiah’s good life in the palace of King Artaxerxes was over the moment he started to dream about Jerusalem. He left a safe city to journey in the places where bandits roved, to work harder than he had ever worked before in his life. His enthusiasm inspired hundreds and consumed treasures of time and money. And, he got the job done, albeit not without struggle, not without disappointment, not without pain.
Let’s allow the Spirit to disturb us. Let yourself see those ‘impossible’ situations even though becoming aware makes you feel uneasy, even sorrowful.
Let God break your heart and plant the seed of a holy vision! Consider that from that see a vision can grow that will transform you and your world.
Christian, are you drifting from day to day, living a life frittered away on trivialities? Or, are you purposeful, owned by God, making a measurable difference in the places where you live? Don’t be fooled into thinking that the only great visions require you to move to some new place or do some big dramatic thing. We are all called first to our family, our local church, to faithfulness right here, right now. Don’t be one of those people who focuses his dreams on Self: who looks for a way to escape ‘real life’ with some quick fix, instant access to money, a new lover, or something equally selfish! That is not what God wants for you.
Instead, take the situations of your life – good and bad, desirable and not so wonderful, ‘hopeless’ and promising – and lay them out before God. With child-like faith simply ask Him – “Lord, what can you do with all of this?” Declare Christ the Lord of all and start to serve Him, right where you are, doing the things you know are right. Love, serve, worship, give, pray, love more… and allow God to lead you into His purposes. If you’re looking for easy, don’t even start! Easy is not what God is about. Leave that to Staples!
The word from the Word comes from two passages today. May they fire you with passion to do the will of God. “Fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you … For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:6-7, NLT) And expect Him to fulfill this promise: “Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” (Ephesians 3:19-20, The Message)
Open Up Our Hearts
Everywhere around us people live in pain
Lost and lonely broken hearts and shame
The hungry and the homeless the victims of abuse
If we only stop and listen
We’ll surely hear the truth
Open up our hearts O God
Help us break our hearts of stone
Fill our lives with love for You alone
Open up our hearts O God
Help us make a bold new start
We hear Your voice calling us
To open up our hearts
They’re bullied in our playgrounds
They’re sleeping in our parks
Or the billion lives that war has torn apart
All they want is justice a chance to live in peace
We’re called to see the face of God
In everyone we meet
We’re called to share the vision
We’re called to live the dream
With Jesus in every word and deed
We’re part of new beginnings
We’re chosen for change
We’re standing up and reaching out
To find a better way
Michael Mangan © 2007 Litmus Productions (Admin. by World Library Publications)
CCLI License # 810055