Summary: We’re too often guilty of aiming and nothing and hitting it every time. “Visionaries can see life for what it is, can see God for who God is. They are people who can read the “signs of the times”, not the “signs of the future”.” (Leonard Sweet)
“Where there is no vision the people perish” (Hebrew Proverb)
“Where there is only vision, people have nervous breakdowns.” (Postmodern Hebrew Proverb as quoted by Leonard Sweet) – having the vision and dreams but not doing (not able to do) anything about them.
Larry of the Three Stooges caused concern for Moe when he cried out, “I can’t see! I can’t see!” Moe ran up to him and said, “What’s wrong Larry? Why can’t you see?” Larry called back, “Because I’ve got my eyes shut!” Of course Moe bopped Larry on the head.
How true, that often we go through days, weeks and years with our eyes shut. Today’s subject about having vision is a call to look around you with eyes wide open. We must of course define vision for the context of our needs in the church. When you speak of vision people have differing ideas of what that means. It ranges from the experience of mystics and prophets seeing things in the distant future that others can’t see to the more contemporary concepts of vision involving corporations, churches, family planning, investments and retirement. These are the new stakeholders in casting vision. Vision has more to do with planning ahead and projecting for the future instead of seeing into it. Planning ahead is contingent on understanding the realities of the times. This picture is reinforced by Leonard Sweet, author, historian and futurist – “Visionaries can see life for what it is, can see God for who God is. They are people who can read the “signs of the times”, not the “signs of the future”.”
Seeing life as it is motivates us to plan for retirement or encourage our children to further education. Churches that are struggling to provide effective ministry, failing to plan for results, are in decline. Many are forced to close their doors because they lack vision. There’s been little or no effort to read the “signs of their times” – the realities of their communities and what the people need in a church. These realities press us to develop our own strategic plan so we can have stability and a strong future.
We will take steps to avoid the experience of aiming at nothing and hitting it every time. God is stirring us to realize He has an awesome plan for the church and we are privileged in this time and place to be part of that fascinating purpose! He doesn’t want us to miss the moving of His Spirit! If we can muster the courage we need to ride the wave of new opportunities with fresh initiatives we will experience God doing something in our church that is beyond description!
Whenever our family moved to a new town or city, we have spent time driving around and explore our new surroundings. We didn’t use a map or give much attention to where we were going. We had no particular destination in mind so a map held no value. We would come to an intersection (picture on powerpoint) and decide, “Do I go left or right?” One turn would serve as well as the other. Wherever we ended up we were okay with it because it was as good as any other place that we could have reached, we were not aiming for anything – junction living.
Change that scenario to Glenys and I needing to drive to another city to conduct a funeral and the process is completely different. We knew the drive would take a certain period of time. Our departure was factored on the distance and time we needed and a well-mapped plan to drive to the destination without getting off course. Along the way in the city Glenys would navigate and indicate markers and signposts that would confirm we were on route and when we should turn here or there – journey living, vision and purpose.
Students – planning for your future. You struggle with where to go for your post-secondary studies, what you want to do – this is a good struggle because you are choosing to live life as a journey, not a junction at a time!..
As members of the church active in our community – the more we understand our Kitchener/Waterloo world the more we will impact it for God. Visionaries speak to the challenges and needs of their times – whether responding to the Virginia Tech massacre or meeting the terminally ill on their own road. The more we understand the needs of the community and move together as a church to respond to people where they are the greater the influence we will have. The most powerful church is the one where its members are equipped and motivated to BE the church next door, down the street, in the market or at the ball game.