The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah. In the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, while I was in Susa the capital, one of my brothers, Hanani, came with certain men from Judah; and I asked them about the Jews that survived, those who had escaped the captivity, and about Jerusalem. They replied, “The survivors there in the province who escaped captivity are in great trouble and shame; the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been destroyed by fire.”
When I heard these words I sat down and wept, and mourned for days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven. I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments; let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Both I and my family have sinned. We have offended you deeply, failing to keep the commandments, the statutes, and the ordinances that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples; but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are under the farthest skies, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place at which I have chosen to establish my name.’ They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great power and your strong hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man!”
At the time, I was cupbearer to the king.
-Nehemiah 1:1-11, NRSV
The Power of Vision
That question probably prompted our first encounter with vision. Our answers ranged from doctor, firefighter, pilot or whatever happened to be our current fascination at the time. For many, those first answers changed and morphed from time to time, but then something stuck and for some it started a lifelong pursuit.
Vision has been defined as a picture of a preferred future. Bill Hybels, senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, says that vision is, “a picture of the future that produces passion.”
Can Vision Be Part of our Christian Life?
Vision is usually relegated to the sphere of businesses and organizations, but what does it mean for individual followers of Christ? Can vision have the same effect on individuals as it does for organizations?
Yes, it can! Think of an athlete striving to break a world record or will an Olympic medal. Think of a person who longs to become a physician or an attorney. That person would have to go through many years of education and training before realizing the dream. Finally, think of a sculptor working to create a beautiful figure from a large hunk of marble. All of these start with a vision of a preferred future, and that vision fills them with a passion that fuels them through the long process of realizing what was only in their mind for many years.
Every organization that does good in this world started with the vision of a single person who was willing to endure hardship and setbacks to see their vision realized.
Starts with a Need or Problem
Vision starts with a person seeing a need or a problem that will not let them go. It weighs on their hearts and minds, and they cannot get rid of it until something is done. Others are attracted to their vision because of the passion they see and the tireless work of the original person. They, too, have been captured by a burden and cannot rest until it is solved.
Sunday we will explore the power of vision in more detail with the single aim of allowing God to capture our hearts with a vison to address a need that at present maybe only we can see.
You may think, “Who am I to do anything significant for God?” You are a person filled with the Spirit of God! As far as being significant, even small things can be important for one person.
My prayer is that you will come to worship with an expectation of God giving you a vision to make a difference in the world; even if it is one person’s world.
CLICK HERE FOR THIS WEEK'S FAITH NOTES.
Alan Cassady serves as Senior Pastor at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2011. When he's not preaching and teaching, he enjoys sci-fi movies and FSU Football. Read more about Alan here.