Shepherd’s Care: Vision (3)

The two preceding postings about “Vision” have nailed down the fact that the Source of every vision is God.  In fact, if the vision comes from us, we’re in trouble—because, if nothing else, we’ll attribute something to God that may have nothing to do with Him!

But even when we have our perspective on God as the Source of vision straight, it is also important to note that God understands us, and does not give visions which are unattainable.  God has no interest in creating an inspiring but futile “fox and grapes” experience, were we jump and jump, but never achieve the vision.

So we turn in today’s post to remember three things about visions as they come to be manifested on the earth—three dimensions of a vision I first found in Burt Nanos’ book, Visionary Leadership

(1) A vision is realistic.  Our first experience of the vision may make us feel that it is “impossible,” but if we stay with the vision long enough to enter into it, we begin to see ways that God has given us to bring it to pass.  In fact, if we cannot find realistic means for fulfillment, it’s a sign that we have “overstated” the vision and need to continue to refine it.  Visions are achievable.

(2) A vision is credible.  At first this may sound like point #1 repeated, but it unfolds another layer about visions.  When we experience them, we find them to connect us with something that “needs doing” in our context.  Most visions are very “local” and they have to do with connecting with life right where we are.  But even when they are “global,” they are legitimate extensions of our common life as it exists.  A credible vision is one that God convinces us needs to be achieved.

(3) A vision is attractive.  This word does not mean that a vision is “pretty” or “easy.”  It means that we feel drawn into the vision.  We often pray, “God break our hearts with the things that break yours”—or we say that we want to “find out where God is at work and join Him.”  Well then, we have to be ready to be drawn into God’s heart and invited to join God’s work.  Otherwise, it’s just words.

Yes, visions will always have the scent of the supernatural on them.  But they also come with hammers and nails—with the means for constructing them.  We don’t need to pray that a vision is real; we need to pray to be willing to enter into the Reality they represent.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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