March 11, 2016

Fulfilling a vision

Paul was given a ‘vision’ of Jesus as he traveled to Damascus to persecute Christians. He was blinded by light and asked “Who are you, Lord?” The Lord said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” At that moment, Jesus also gave him another ‘vision’ concerning his future.

“ . . . Rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

Years later, Paul told King Agrippa his story.He said, 

“I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.” (Acts 26:16–20)

Chambers says a vision can be lost if God does not fulfill it immediately and we cannot wait. Instead, we need to keep it by continual recall, not so much in prayer meetings, but in daily thought. That is, if God calls me to do a thing, that thing must stay on my mind until He works out the timing and opportunities for the vision to be fulfilled. I’m not to let go of it by disobedience or in discouragement.

He also says to let God fling me into it, not going out to do it until He makes it happen. If I decide myself to go, the venture will be fruitless. The walking of my feet need to match the light of what God has given me.

Actually, God did give me a grand plan for something, but it has not yet worked out except by dribs and drabs. I translated this sluggishness to mean that it was merely my idea and not from God. Yet the idea (or ‘vision’) does keep coming back. After reading this, I am convinced that “being obedient to a heavenly vision” isn’t always about jumping into action. It is also waiting for God’s timing and instruction.

My church leader who gave the okay for this idea also said, “Start small and see how it goes.” I wanted to start big, but now see his wisdom in that advice. For one thing, I am not Paul, but even if I were, the Bible relates that this spiritual giant spent years before he started doing fully what God envisioned for him.

“God . . . was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days . . . Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia . . . Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem . . . .” (Galatians 1:16–2:1)

Paul’s ministry was years in its development. He began to share the Gospel right away, but God had a plan. It took years of “increasing in strength” — which was necessary to fulfill that initial ‘vision’ from God. If it took that for a man like Paul, I’ve no reason to be impatient!

From all this, my focus needs to stay with what God gave me, looking for opportunities, but first listening for His ‘go’ signal and direction on what to do first, and second, and third, and all steps after that.

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