Helen Keller, the American author and lecturer who was blind and deaf from infancy, said: “Can there be anything worse than blindness? Yes. The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but no vision.”
There are lots of ways that God communicates to us: through his Word and Spirit especially, but also through nature and creation; through other believers; through music and worship; through circumstances and signs; though angels (maybe sometimes); through prayer and meditation; through prophecy and words of knowledge, and also through dreams and visions. We must never limit how God can communicate with us, but the primary way that God speaks to us is through his Word – that’s why He gave us the Scriptures, and through meditation/prayer – that’s why He gave us his Holy Spirit. So what’s the difference between a dream and a vision? A vision is given when a person is awake while a dream is given when a person is asleep. Visions are waking dreams.
A frog goes to see a fortune-teller and is told, “You’re going to meet a very beautiful young girl who will want to know everything about you.”
The frog is excited and asks, “Will I meet her at the high school party?”
“No,” said the fortune-teller, “next term in the biology class!”
In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
Acts 2:17-18 NIV
Try to imagine what life on the ark must have been like for Noah. He probably didn’t get much sleep. He was feeding, cleaning and caring for thousands of animals around the clock. And it must have smelled to high heaven. Did you know that African elephants produce 40 kg of waste per day? It was smelly and messy. And that’s a pretty accurate picture of what obedience sometimes looks like. It’s hard work, and it gets harder. The blessings of God can complicate your life. But unlike sin, they bring a level of joy and fulfilment you have never known (see Proverbs 10:22). No matter what vision God has given you, it will take longer and be harder than you ever imagined. Noah offers a little reality check, doesn’t he? If a decade sounds like a long time to patiently pursue a God-ordained passion, try more than ten!
It’s amazing what God can do if you just keep hammering away year after year! (…) Be a planner and a plodder. Planners see into the future and cast a vision; plodders put one foot in front of the other and keep going one day at a time. Success is not just about getting where God wants you to go, it’s about who you become in the process.
Source: The UCB Word For Today, 16/12/2017 adapted from Mark Batterson, All In
Losers visualize the penalties of failure but winners visualize the rewards of success.
Rick Warren teaches that we need to have personal vision and be specific about our future: In order to get to where you want to be, you need to describe exactly what you want. For instance, Abraham told Eliezer exactly what kind of wife he wanted for Isaac. He told him to go back to the land of his relatives instead of picking Isaac’s wife from among the Canaanite women. You will never reach a vague goal. The more general it is, the less power it has. But the more specific it is, the more power it has in your life. Ask yourself these four questions:
- What do I want to be?
- What do I want to do?
- What do I want to have?
- Why do I want it?
You can’t just know the what, you need to know the why – that’s your motivation. If you don’t know why, you will give up when it gets tough. When Eliezer heard Abraham’s goal, he started asking “What if?” If you listen to the what-ifs of your goal, you will fail because of worry and fear. You don’t need to focus on the how for now because, once you figure out the why, God will show you how. He will help you solve the problems that stand in the way of your goal.
Source: Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional on YouVersion, day 2 of 365
Vision starts with identity and purpose
“It’s all in the mind,” says Arnold Schwarzenegger. A multimillionaire, successful real estate tycoon, movie star [turned film producer], body-builder – five times winner of the Mr. Universe title, [and latterly Governor of California]. Arnold has it made. But it wasn’t always so. Arnold can remember back when he had nothing except a belief that his mind was the key to getting where he wanted to go.
“When I was young, I visualised myself being and having what it was I wanted. Mentally I never had any doubts about it. The mind is really so incredible. Before I won my first Mr. Universe, I walked around the tournament like I owned it. The title was already mine. I had won it so many times in my mind that there was no doubt I would win it. Then when I moved on to the movies, the same thing. I visualise myself being a successful actor and earning big money. I could feel and taste success. I just knew it would all happen.”
Source: John Kehoe, Mind Power, 1997, Vancouver, Canada: Zoetic Books, p.13-14
“Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Jesus. (Mark 9:23)
There is a story told about a local church that was built around 1000 A.D. When the church was around 200 years old it became necessary to replace the roof and so the original plans were brought out of the archives to be studied. To the amazement of the parishioners, on the original drawings there were details and a map showing the location of a dense wood that had been planted at the same time as the original construction of the church. The wood was discovered in exactly the place where the plans had stated, and the 200-year old trees, were not only the same kind of wood as the original building and roof supports, but now the timber was also mature enough to do the job. What foresight or vision those original builders had, coupled with a desire to make a lasting difference.
Source: adapted from Paul J. Meyer, Unlocking Your Legacy, 2002, Chicago Illinois, Moody Press, p.19
“This whole thing began with a mouse.” – Walt Disney
Walt Disney (1901-1966) died before Disney World in Florida was finally completed and open to the public. When, eventually, the park was ready Mrs Disney, Walt’s wife, was invited to say a few words at the opening ceremony. On the big day, the speaker said, “I wish that Walt could have seen this.” In response Mrs Disney simply said, “He did see it. That’s why it’s here.”
“Vision without action is hallucination. Action without vision is random activity.”
Visualisation: there is always a time delay from setting out to arriving: When you look up into the sky and see the stars, what you are actually seeing is the past because some of those stars may no longer exist. This is possible because stars are hundreds and thousands of light years away, meaning that it takes their light, travelling at 186,000 miles per second, hundreds of thousands of years to reach earth. Thus the light we see from a star a hundred light years away is actually light it emitted a hundred years ago. That particular star could have exploded and disintegrated twenty-five years ago, but we still see its light, and will continue to see its light for another seventy-five years, even though the star itself has longed ceased to exist. Similarly with our visualising: The point is, there is always a time delay from our setting out to arriving.
Source: John Kehoe, Mind Power, 1997, Vancouver, Canada: Zoetic Books, p.65
Where there is no vision, the people perish.
Proverbs 29:18 KJV
Does God still speak to us through dreams and visions? (Visions are sometimes referred to today as ‘pictures’.) In a word: Yes/Sometimes. Do you ever dream; ever had a nightmare – a bad dream? Are all dreams from God? No. What then causes us to have dreams? It could be too much cheese before you went bed; or it could be that you are overly tired, anxious or worried and your imagination is playing overtime in your sleep. Ecclesiastes 5v3 tells us: “A dream comes when there are many cares.” A bad dream could be an attack from the enemy to create fear, or it could be because you have watched something ‘unhelpful’ on the TV before retiring – and you opened yourself up to wrong images and bad thoughts playing on your mind! OR… a dream could be from God; a way of God communicating with you, maybe to warn you. How can we tell which is which?
Joseph, the gifted-interpreter of dreams, was at pains to point out that “interpretations belong to God” (Genesis 40:8). Joseph’s comment completely wipes out explanations coming from mediums, spiritualists or dream-interpretation books, as well as astrology, horoscopes, clairvoyants and the like, as a means of gaining spiritual insight or divine guidance. Church, stay away from such things! They’re not harmless; they are deceitful and dangerous, and leave people wide open to all sorts of dark and evil things. It’s worth noting that in Scripture, whenever anyone experienced a dream from God, God always made the meaning of the dream clear, whether directly to the person, through an angel, or a prophetic word. When God wants to speaks to us, He makes sure His message is clearly understood.
“Vision is the art of seeing the invisible.”
Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), writer, satirist and church minister
Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare!
Eastern, oriental proverb.
If your vision doesn’t scare you it isn’t big enough!
W Y S I W Y G (pronounced ‘wiz-ee-wig’) = What You See Is What You Get.