Summary: Preparation and expectation of your vision to become a reality.
I want to begin by sharing with you a story about a 19 year old Chinese pianist named Liu (lu) Shih-kun ( shy-cun). In 1958 he competed in the First International Tchaikovsky Competition for pianist. Van Cliburn won with Liu finishing second. Van Cliburn became world renown and Liu went back to China and was forgotten by the western world.
In the mid 60s Liu was an established concert pianist in China but a cultural revolution was beginning where anything and everything of western influence had fallen into disfavor.
Western music fell into that category and was no longer allowed to be played. But Liu refused to renounce his beloved music and was deemed “an enemy of the people”. He was imprisoned and beaten, once so severally that a bone in his right forearm was cracked.
For the next 6 years he set in a prison cell. There were no books to read, except the teachings of the dictator Mao, no paper on which to write, and no piano, for 6 long years.
When Richard Nixon became president an outreach between the two countries began. Part of that outreach was for the Philadelphia Orchestra to perform in Peking. For the purpose of propaganda, Liu was released from jail and requested to perform with them. How could they expect someone who had been away from their instrument for 6 years to perform?
But Liu did and did so extraordinarily well.
He was once again returned to his cell for another 18 months, to be released so as to play another concert in which he played brilliantly.
He never returned to prison again. The political and culture climate had changed. He was at last accepted at home and emerged into the national limelight that he had been denied for 21 years.
That he survived is remarkable in itself. But his fellow musicians were more astonished that his hands had survived, as if though he had never stopped playing.
You see, there was one thing that the prison could not take from him, and that was his vision to play again. He had been denied a piano, denied paper to recapture the music he had lost. Yet something invaluable was left Liu. Something which in turn produced notes of music and produced a piano keyboard in his lonely prison cell. For seven and a half years Liu practiced his beloved music in his vivid, disciplined imagination----on a piano no one else could see. ( Paul Harvey’s The Rest Of The Story)
That is vision, seeing what others can’t. Today I want to look at a man in Scripture who had a vision for God’s power to be manifested and the steps he took to see it through. We will learn from his example how to bring life to the vision that desires to be born in us.
The man’s name is Elijah. We are introduced to this man in 1 Kings 17 :1 Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, “As surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!”
A great drought is about to strike the land because of the wickedness of King Ahab.
Next we read: 1 Kings 18: 1 Later on, in the third year of the drought, the LORD said to Elijah, “Go and present yourself to King Ahab. Tell him that I will soon send rain!”
This sets up a showdown between the prophets of the false gods Baal and Asherah. It is in this showdown that we gleam some valuable information in making our vision a reality.
1 Kings 18:31-33 He took twelve stones, one to represent each of the tribes of Israel, and he used the stones to rebuild the altar in the name of the LORD. Then he dug a trench around the altar large enough to hold about three gallons. He piled wood on the altar, cut the bull into pieces, and laid the pieces on the wood. Then he said, “Fill four large jars with water, and pour the water over the offering and the wood.”
1) To accomplish a vision it takes work
He had to work at it with out any help. There were twelve stones to carry to rebuild the altar, not pebbles but heavy boulders.
He had to dig a trench. I doubt he had a handy shovel near by so he probably had to do this by hand. After a three year drought we can only imagine how hard the ground must have been. And it had to be a deep trench.
Next he piled wood on the altar. Notice he did not throw the wood on the altar. There would have been necessary preparation for the wood to be piled. There’s some moss to be scraped of the wood, created from wood lying dormant to long. There’s some stray limbs that need to be trimmed off so the wood could be piled properly, limbs that were of no use.