Long-term Visions

Pastor Ed preached yesterday about the state of our church.  Some obstacles and discouragements are coming up, but he also talked about why he still believes God is and will be doing a mighty work at Gateway.

One thing he came back to is that many years ago, God gave him a vision about this church, a vision about lives changed through God’s power.  He acknowledged that for some time now, our circumstances aren’t seeming to fit with that vision.

That got me thinking about long-term vision.  I, too, feel that God has spoken to me about something in the future.  I believe God has told me He is making my husband “a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples.”  I believe that God has told me that our marriage will be healed and restored.

But for now, circumstances don’t match.  It looks like a divorce will happen soon.

I thought about long-term visions in the Bible.  We talk about the verse Psalm 119:105 — “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  Invariably, commentary on that verse mentions that walking by lantern light does not give you the long view, just the next step.

And in the Bible, we humans don’t do too well with long-term visions.

Look at the Israelites heading for the Promised Land.  When the spies looked at the land, they looked at the circumstances — giants who were way too tough for them.  Only Joshua and Caleb remembered God’s promise and God’s vision.

Look at Abraham.  God told him that he would make his descendants like the stars of the sky.  Then nothing happened for years and years.  Abraham thought he’d better help God out with Hagar.

Then there’s Joseph.  God gave him a vision of his brothers bowing down to him.  Joseph didn’t give up on the vision that we know about.  But who knows what he went through waiting for it to happen while he was in prison?

In my marriage crisis, the first crystal-clear word I got from God was “Wait on the Lord.”  I had been praying earnestly and asked God, “Father, can’t you please end this NOW?”  For the next few weeks, every time I picked up a Bible or other Christian book, the words in the passage included “wait on the Lord.”  Our Sunday School lesson a few days later was where Jesus taught his disciples that they should “always pray and not give up.”

I recently heard a testimony about a restored marriage from a woman with my same name and her husband.  They were divorced for ten years before the husband came back to God and came back to his wife.  That’s a long, long time.  Along the way, God continued to speak to her and tell her not to give up, even when her husband married someone else.

Long-term vision is hard for us humans.  Sometimes God gives us the big picture.  Then the challenge is trusting that God can bring it about even when the little picture, from our perspective, doesn’t look like it can possibly fit into that big picture.

I liked what Pastor Ed said about the at least two and a half years we will have to wait before we can get into a new church building.  He said: This is our opportunity to be ready.

By the same token, however long I have to wait for the restoration of my marriage, this is my opportunity:  My opportunity to get rid of resentment, to practice forgiveness, to work on my own relationship with God, and even to work on personal pursuits like my writing.

Part of the challenge of a long-term vision is asking yourself:  What does God want me to do today to get ready for that vision to happen?  Sometimes, like with Abraham, it’s simply to wait.  Sometimes, as with Joshua and Caleb, it’s to go in and take the land.

But where God has provided the long-term vision, surely He will also provide a light for our feet, if we ask.  But be careful about looking at circumstances, like giants in the land or a barren womb, to conclude that God never really meant what He said in the original vision.  Sometimes the hardest thing to do is simply to wait.

2 Responses to “Long-term Visions”

  1. Lorinda says:

    “Sometimes the hardest thing to do is simply to wait.”
    That is the truth. We are not a society of those who like to wait for anything… wireless computing, cell phones, microwave food…
    Have you ever noticed that God’s definition of “soon” is different from ours…?
    Be blessed as you wait and learn to wait.

  2. Pam Hatch says:

    The patience you demonstrate is a supernatural gift from God. No human being can be patient enough to wait on a man who already decided to divorce. Your witness is a miracle and testimony I admire and will tell others of the strength you exhibit.

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