When we bought our current house in Queensland we discovered the previous owners had beautifully renovated the house just a few years ago…except for the main bathroom, toilet and laundry, which were still in all of their 30-year-old “glory”! We couldn’t understand how they could put so much work into extending and renovating fantastic living spaces, before “downing tools” and putting up with those ugly rooms for the next 8 years, when they were only 12 square metres short of finishing the whole house. So we moved in with a plan to immediately get to work completing the renovation that our predecessors had clearly lost their vision for. We had to wait while we got quotes from contractors, chose tiles, cabinets, toilets etc. Then the work got put on hold a bit longer…and a bit longer…and a bit longer…until we stopped seeing how terrible those rooms really looked. We even started saying crazy things like, “It’s cool because it makes it look like a bayside holiday shack.”
I wonder if there’s any area in your life where your vision has been lost, or maybe clouded and dimmed?
Isaiah 22:1-3, 8-11a “The Message oncerning the Valley of Vision: What’s going on here anyway? All this partying and noisemaking, Shouting and cheering in the streets, the city noisy with celebrations! You have no brave soldiers to honor, no combat heroes to be proud of. Your leaders were all cowards, captured without even lifting a sword, a country of cowards captured escaping the battle…God has left Judah exposed and defenseless. You assessed your defenses that Day, inspected your arsenal of weapons in the Forest Armory. You found the weak places in the city walls that needed repair. You secured the water supply at the Lower Pool. You took an inventory of the houses in Jerusalem and tore down some to get bricks to fortify the city wall. You built a large cistern to ensure plenty of water. You looked and looked and looked, but you never looked to him who gave you this city, never once consulted the One who has long had plans for this city.”
I am convinced that when it comes to having a great vision most people see the challenge, accept their fears, and bypass a defining moment. Visionary people, however, see a defining moment, accept the challenge, and bypass their fears. What makes visionary people different is not just what they see but also what they don’t see!
So, what are you looking at?
Here’s some focal points we need to choose between in the Valley of Vision:
#1. BLOOPERS & BATTERINGS or BLESSINGS & BETTER THINGS
Hebrews 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Amos 9:13 Things are going to happen so fast your head will swim, one thing fast on the heels of the other. You won’t be able to keep up. Everything will be happening at once—and everywhere you look, blessings!
Do you tend to focus more on what’s going wrong OR what’s going right? Some people sing and dance in the rain; others just get wet and miserable!
#2. DRUDGERY or DREAMS
I haven’t been to a city in the world yet where people have told me, “This is an easy place to help people find Jesus and to build a great church.” On the contrary, everywhere I’ve ever been I’ve met someone who has said, “This is a hard place.” It’s too hard because people are too busy/too relaxed; it’s too big/too small; too secular/too churched; too wealthy/too poor; too restricted/too many options; too connected/too isolated etc etc etc!
Do you tend to see hard ground OR harvest fields? In John 4:35, Jesus said, “Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”
What do you see as too hard in your life?
A farmer doesn’t give up because his work is hard – he has the future harvest in mind!
#3. HOPELESS MISMATCH or HOPE FOR A MIRACLE
When confronted by overwhelming odds, Jonathan told his armour-bearer in 1 Samuel 14:6 Nothing can stop the Lord from saving by many or by few.
Gideon went to battle against a huge army with just 300 men…and won.
David, the teenage shepherd boy confronted the giant warrior Goliath…and won.
Daniel was thrown in a den full of hungry lions as punishment for his faith…and lived.
His friends Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego were thrown in a fiery furnace as punishment for their commitment to their faith…and came out without even the smell of smoke on them.
What seems like a hopeless mismatch for you right now? These accounts are in the Bible to inspire us to always have hope for a miracle!
#4. OPPOSITION & OBSTACLES or OPEN DOORS & OPPORTUNITIES
Opposition is usually a sign that you’re heading in the right direction, as anything which is moving forward faces resistance. Resistance training in the gym makes you stronger; resistance force is what takes an aircraft to a higher altitude.
1 Corinthians 16:9 A great and effective door of opportunity has opened for me, and there are many adversaries, or as The Message paraphrase puts it: There is also mushrooming opposition.
All opposing forces on any object are in balance, that object becomes motionless. This is not God’s purpose for you – keep moving forward into the open doors and opportunities He has for you.
#5. THE PAST or THE PRIZE
As the Israelites wandered through the wilderness, they remembered longingly the leeks and garlic they ate as slaves in Egypt, when the prize before them was the milk and honey of the Promised Land.
Do you tend to focus more on the “good old days” OR the “goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”?
Ecclesiastes 7:10 says, Don’t long for “the good old days.” This is not wise.
Psalm 27:13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
#6. TROUBLES or TRIALS
James 1:2-4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when trials and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
The glaring difference between troubles and trials is perhaps illustrated best in the sporting world: Troubles (financial, governance, disharmony, cheating etc) can disqualify a team or player. BUT trials are the proving process for qualification – no aspiring player says, “These trials are too much trouble!”
#7. WHY NOT!!! or WHY NOT???
Numbers 13:27-30 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.” 30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
These verses contain 11 words of promise compared to 50 words of problems! That’s a ratio of 11:50 (or 1:4.54545454545454 recurring!). I think most of us could work on reducing that gap in the ratio of how we speak about challenges we face.
Do you tend to see the Problems OR Promises? There are always people who will tell us why something can’t happen. Let’s commit to being the kind of people who ask, “Why not??? We can certainly do it!”
So, whether you’re on the mountain-top or in the valley-low, what are you looking at?
PS: Our bathroom/toilet/laundry renovations have now recommended after nearly two years of lost vision!