We are a week into 2017 and I’m not sure what’s going in your life. But something tells me that you, like me, may have lost your vision.
Sometimes circumstances can cloud our eyes. Hardships can distort our goals. Unforeseen things can keep us from pursuing what was once a priority. The difficulties of 2016 may have caused you to…
Lose your vision!
You know what God put before you, but you’ve lost your drive and enthusiasm to get there.
Let me begin by looking at a key figure in the New Testament. This is someone I think we may be able to relate with. John was a disciple-turned-apostle. He was once in Jesus’ inner circle, along with Peter and James. He walked with Jesus for three years and then when Jesus left, John was commissioned to carry the gospel to the world.
His vision was strong. There was no stopping him.
As time went on, he founded the early church, taught truth to whomever would listen, traveled. and wrote a chunk of the New Testament.
Before he knew it, his beard turned gray. His fellow comrades had all been martyred and he was the only one left. Then he was arrested for preaching and sent to the Island of Patmos.
Please indulge me as I quote from my Wilderness Wanderings Bible study:
Patmos was a small, rocky island in the Aegean Sea. On account of its rocky, barren, and desolate nature, the Roman leaders used the island as a place of banishment for criminals. While John was nearing the end of his life, he was exiled to this island for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:9). It is on the island of Patmos where he writes the Book of Revelation—a letter to the “seven churches in the province of Asia” (Revelation 1:4).
Together, let’s ponder this. John, the disciple, was old. Tradition tells us that he outlived all the other disciples. Most elderly people I know choose to live their final years in peace, quiet, and surrounded by their loved ones. As John viewed the remaining years of his life, his retirement package probably didn’t look much different than today. Instead, he was forced to leave behind his country—and his family and friends—to live on an isolated island. By this time in his life, he certainly longed to be reunited with the Savior he loved so deeply, and to see again his fellow partners in the Gospel. I wonder if he ever questioned why he did not die a martyr’s death like the other disciples.
Apparently, God was not finished with John. Without warning, God interrupted his life. I doubt that John was looking for a new adventure, or that he found comfortable living conditions on Patmos. However, this island served as the perfect environment for a renewed vision. God restored John’s vision and opened up a marvelous opportunity—one that most people only dream about. He was invited into heaven to learn about future events. Without this vision, we would not have the Book of Revelation, the most detailed account into the future.
No doubt, John’s vision was restored. What a blessing for him and for us. Imagine the people we might have the privilege of impacting if we will only allow God to renew our vision.
I’m with ya, friends. I need this post as much as you do. This past year has been difficult for me, but I’m determined to renew my vision.
We will look at one popular passage of Scripture to find 4 ways to renew our vision: Hebrews 12:1-2. Take a moment to read these verses on the poster below.
1. Look back at those who’ve run before us!
Hebrews 12 comes on the heels of a GREAT chapter – a chapter that lists faithful men and women of the Bible. The writer of Hebrews encourages us to use them as examples.
I have a book called Ambassadors for Christ, compiled by John D. Woodbridge. This book tells the stories of many faithful ones who’ve gone on before us, and some still living. You can read about the kingdom works of William Carey, David Livingstone, Dr. Billy Graham, Ravi Zacharias, Josh McDowell, and many more.
When I want inspiration and encouragement to keep going, I will read and reread stories of those who’ve made great strides for God, biblical and beyond.
There’s not a better way to keep your vision alive.
2. Strip off the weight!
Using weights is good for building muscles or getting the most out of your work-out. But weights are NOT good for racing.
The same is true in the spiritual realm. We are in a race. The early believers started the race and passed the baton to us. And it’s our responsibility to run with it. Run as hard as we can.
But our sin and/or our weight will slow us down. It will block our view of the finish line.
There are many things that can and will weigh us down. In addition to sin, it could be strained relationships, unforgiveness, baggage, doubt, hurt, fear, or apathy. Our responsibility is to identify what weight is pressing down on our shoulders, and then to throw it off.
We cannot win this race – or keep our vision alive – if we are slowed down.
3. Run the race with endurance!
One of the common traits among Olympians is their endurance. Not much can stop them. They will keep going despite overwhelming odds.
We need to have that kind of endurance. However, we often let things stop us or slow us down. Life happens and obstacles will be put in our path. But endurance means that we won’t give up. We will work hard at getting back in the race.
Here’s the thing, though: it starts with our vision. We need vision before we can move forward. This is where I’m at right now. I’m asking God to renew my vision.
4. Fix your eyes on Jesus!
This is one very important piece to this “vision” puzzle. If our eyes are on anything but Jesus, then our vision will be blurred.
We may need to make some adjustments and/or sacrifices to get our eyes where they need to be. This takes discipline. It’s hard to change bad habits – like focusing on other things.
One way to fix your eyes on Jesus is to read His story. Spend some time in the gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John). Let Him show you what He showed the disciples. Let Him teach you truth.
I will try to change my focus. How about you?
Are you ready to have your vision renewed? I am. Let’s follow these simple steps and move forward instead of staying stuck or taking backward steps.
Please pass this on. I’m praying that each of you will be encouraged today as you read this.