Be Thou My Vision

visionI’ve recently had this creepy feeling that my neighbors, pastors, family members, coworkers, along with some miscellaneous people I’ve never met, have held secret meetings to decide that I definitely need to work on a particular weak spot.  You know, like an intervention… only I wasn’t invited.  The reason I have this creepy feeling is because suddenly everywhere I turn I run into the same messages over and over again!  Do you ever get this familiar paranoia?  (Please tell me you do, or this blog may confirm all our worst fears about my sanity.)

So the conspiracy of the week is about “having vision”.  Blogs I follow, books I’m reading, the message last Sunday, quotes everywhere I turn… they’re all taking me by the heart and telling  me that maybe I, too, could become a person of vision.  “Me?  Are ya sure, conspiracy?!”

One of the funniest websites I know about is www.despair.com because it’s filled with more pessimistic versions of those deep “motivational posters” that make the difficult work of character-building sound glamorous.  The quote (in case you can’t quite read it above)  says, “Vision.  How can the future be so hard to predict when all of my worst fears keep coming true?” Sadly, I think I’ve believed that, to a certain extent.  My own quote might be more like, “Vision.  The thing that leads people down unblazed trails only to leave them lost and disappointed for having had such high hopes.”

I’ve always thought the world consisted of “visionaries” and “worker bees”.  You couldn’t be both.   I was a worker bee and vision was, I thought, saved for others who like to be  in charge.  Needless to say, this line of thinking is getting the head butt of its life, thanks to the ruthless conspirators challenging my misconceptions.

Of all weeks, I also stumbled onto a post about vision in Michael Hyatt’s blog (which he posted in February but I somehow completely missed until this week, further encouraging this ever-strengthening conspiracy theory).   He blogged about the practical application of vision in our daily work.  Mr. Hyatt is  currently the C.E.O. of Thomas Nelson Publishing, and he recounted the story of an earlier time in his career when he was given charge over a struggling department.  And by “struggling” I mean pretty much pathetic.  He was able to lead that department through a radical transformation with the help of a clear, well-communicated vision.  He even copied the actual vision he drafted for his department into the blog, to show us what one looks like.   It was SO timely to land on that article just 24 hours after hearing our pastor speak about the spiritual ramifications of losing our vision.   I could go on and on with examples of just how many neon signs are pointing to this thing called “vision” but suffice it to say, I’m getting the message loud and clear.

I have to admit that I’ve been afraid of having vision. Being a visionary means risk, putting oneself on the line, not to mention the high probability I’ll be asking others to become a part of  it.  I’m not a big fan of risk.  I know God is big enough and powerful enough to do ANYTHING, but I must tell you that I have vastly underestimated what He might be able to accomplish through me.  (I tell you this because maybe you have felt the same way.)  I am beginning to see that vision isn’t about us.  We must get over ourselves and let Him paint a picture in our minds of what could be.

In John 9, the story of Jesus healing a blind man reveals the radical qualities of a Savior who is all about vision.  Right now, I feel a little like that blind man might have felt right before Jesus gave him sight.  I’m sensing Him stirring up the mud around me, I’m feeling His Presence and hearing that familiar voice.  I imagine people standing nearby watching the whole thing and wondering what He is up to.   I can almost feel the warm, unfamiliar gooeyness of the muddy mixture Jesus created with his saliva and applied to unseeing eyes.  And now is the part of the story where I do my part and come to the water.  It’s time to receive the vision I’ve been blind to until now.

In work, in parenting, in relationships, in our churches and communities, we are not self-contained.  It’s time to replace our sketchy ideas, conjured up in the dark, and let Him throw open the shudders to shed light on possibilities we have never dared to imagined.

I like to have a song for everything… a tune that keeps my heart focused on whatever message my soul needs most.  This week, I keep coming back to that sweet centuries-old song, “Be Thou My Vision”.  This particular verse caught my attention in a new way.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

That is my prayer today.

2 thoughts on “Be Thou My Vision

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  1. I think sometimes the vision God wants us to focus on is what we already know we need to do. I think long-term vision is important and we certainly need to seek God’s will for that but we don’t get the long-term vision without short-term obedience to the “visions” he’s already given us and, if you are practicing what that prayer indicates, then you’re already on that path.

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  2. Oh, Emily, this is so heartfelt… thank you for sharing. I think God has stirred up similar “scarry” thoughts in me about “possibilities” I “haven’t dared to imagine.” Sometimes I feel like a baby bird getting ready to try out new wings — but the ground seems awfully far down, and the nest is so cozy…

    I thought of two things while reading your post. One is a quote from Corrie Ten Boom, a very inspirational women when it comes to interpreting our circumstances in light of the God of the Gospels. She says, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

    The second thing is some verses I have been mulling over from Eph. 1. Paul prays, “I pray that God would grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know Him better. And that the eyes of your heart would be enlightened, so that you would know the hope of your calling…”

    May the Living Word minister to your heart in ways only your soul will understand.

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