Many years ago, I had a friend remark to me, "I think my teenagers might have a problem with their eyesight." Now I didn't have teenagers at the time, so I fell for it and asked, "Oh, what's wrong?" He replied, "Well, my teenage daughter looks at a closet full of clothes and says, ‘I've got nothing good to wear.' And my teenage son looks at a fridge full of food and says, ‘There is nothing good to eat here.'" He continued, "I'm worried about their eyesight."
There was, of course, nothing wrong with their eyesight except their age. But many Christians behave like teenagers with God. We often stare at God's plan and say, "Well, there is nothing good for me here. Where are You, God? I need You to do this for me."
Seek and submit to God's plan even though it may be different from yours, even if it makes no sense to you.
But God says, "I have you exactly where I want you to be. Can you see My vision for you?"
The answer, of course, is often no. Sometimes we cannot see God's vision. But the new year is a great time to have our eyes checked, to ask God what He wants us to see.
There are a lot of misconceptions about a life vision, so I want to be clear. I am not talking about daydreaming. I am not talking about conceive it and receive it. I'm not talking about visualize it and realize it. I am not talking about blab it and grab it. And I'm not talking about desire it and demand it. I am talking about discovering and obeying God's vision for your life.
GOD'S VISION IS FOR THE HUMBLE IN HEART
God loves to answer anyone who asks for His vision for their life. But too often we are blind to God's vision because we don't really want it. We prefer to maintain control. Like Israel, we may think God's plan is too hard and head back into the desert instead of entering the Promised Land. Like Abraham, we may follow God's plan but also try to "help God out" with our own plans. Or, like Jonah, we may run the other way thinking we know better.
I want to encourage you this new year, whether you are 15, 50, or 100 years old: Seek God's vision for your life. Seek and submit to His plan even though it may be different from yours, even if it makes no sense to you. Seek God's plan because it comes from the only one who has your whole life in perspective, the only one who has your true good in mind, the only one whose plans never fail. To that end, here are three ways to improve your eyesight as you humbly seek God's vision for your life as we head into a new year.
1. ASK GOD FOR HIS VISION FOR YOU.
God's vision becomes clearer when we simply ask Him to show us. In his epistle, James, the brother of the Lord Jesus, explains, "You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures" (James 4:2b-3). Have you ever said to God, "Lord, show me Your vision for my life, and I'm going to keep asking until You answer me"? Have you ever, like the persistent widow, knocked at God's door through prayer until He showed you what He wants to do through your life?
God loves to answer that request. He loves to reveal great and mighty things to His children when His children long for great and mighty things. He loves to grant the desires of those who delight themselves in Him, for when we delight ourselves in Him, the desires of our hearts will align with His—and we will be asking with right motives (see Psalm 37:4).
The process of asking creates in us a desire for His will and for His vision. In prayer, we prepare ourselves to see what God has for us. So, ask.
2. RIGHTLY STEWARD THE BIG VISION FOR YOUR LIFE THAT GOD HAS ALREADY SHOWN YOU.
God's vision is not cheap. In fact, it is costly. Following God's vision for your life may cost you the support or understanding of your family members, of society at large, or even of your Christian friends. Why? Because when you have God's vision for your life, you are seeing what they can't see. You are believing what they can't believe. You are knowing what they can't know. It is costly, and God is not willing to entrust His vision to someone if that person is unwilling to pay the price.
Being a good steward of God's vision requires you to stand firm in times of uncertainty, adjust along the way, and come back when you veer to the right or to the left. At times you may be temporarily discouraged or derailed, but mistakes are not the end of the road; they are just detours to the destination. Good stewards gain greater clarity of vision through their faithfulness and their mistakes.
3. BE FAITHFUL WITH SMALL THINGS.
I heard someone say, "When I make a million dollars, I'll tithe." I can tell you, that person isn't going to tithe if he gets ten million dollars. Jesus said, "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, . . . if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?" (Luke 16:10-11).
God reveals His vision one page at a time. Just ask Abraham. He calls us to be faithful with each step. But sometimes we fail. Just ask Abraham. But thank God, we can begin again. You can pray, "God, give me Your vision for my life. I want to be faithful with small things. I want to be faithful in areas the world says don't matter. Help me be faithful with what You've placed in my hands now so You can entrust me with greater things in the future."
Those who do not despise the day of small things will be honored by God and will be entrusted with a bigger and clearer vision for their life.
AN EXAMPLE OF THE POWER OF PERSISTING IN GOD'S VISION
In 1807, William Wilberforce sat in the British House of Commons listening to the Solicitor General of the British Empire officially decreeing the end of the slave trade. It was eighteen years earlier, in 1789, that Wilberforce realized God's vision for his life: to eradicate slavery in England. When he first tried to propose the unthinkable, he became one of the most hated men in the British Empire. He had enemies in the royal family, among his fellow parliamentarians, and among the British elite, of which he was one.
Wilberforce was attacked verbally and physically, and yet he persisted and stood against all odds. Why? Because he knew it was God's vision for his life. He walked one step at a time. Did he accomplish God's vision for his life in the first year? No. The second year? No. The fifteenth year? No. In all, it took over thirty years before Wilberforce celebrated the fulfillment of God's vision for his life.
When he first ventured out to fulfill God's vision for his life, Wilberforce could not find three members of Parliament who would support him. But, because he walked by faith and not by fear, thirty-six years later the vote was 283 to 16 in favor of the resolution. And on July 26, 1833, the final Act of Emancipation become the law. After fulfilling God's vision for his life, Wilberforce went to be with his Savior.
THIS NEW YEAR, CALL TO GOD
God has a vision for your life, and He wants you to see it. He wants you to ask Him for it, to be a good steward of it, and to be faithful even in the small things. The invitation to you is the same as the one given through the prophet Jeremiah: "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know" (Jeremiah 33:3, NKJV). You truly can't conceive the glorious things God wants to do in and through you.