Vi·sionˈ/viZHən/ – Noun: Faculty of perception; forming a picture in the mind about the past or potential nature of things.
Vision, the ability to see something clearly, is one of seven key pillars in our Methodology for Compassionate Work. It can refer to a deep understanding of the flaws of a current situation, a recognition of a shadow of an undesired event on the horizon, or the possibility of a better tomorrow. Lack of vision is dangerous, even deadly. Proverbs 29:18 begins with a warning: “where there is no vision, the people perish.” We all can see many things that could use improvement, in our world. By vision, we don’t just mean identifying what’s wrong, but also being able to see where we fit, exactly, into the solution. Some call this recognizing our vocation, or special calling. So, how do we obtain this gift – the gift of clear seeing? Actually, it’s not complicated.
THE FIRST STEP IS TO WANT IT
- And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. – Mark 10:51
- And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine… After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. – Genesis 14:22 – 15
- And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac. And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I. And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation…Genesis 46
In Genesis 15, the “word of the Lord” comes in a vision, and Genesis 46, where God speaks in “visions of the night.” In both cases, God addresses the person by name, saying “fear not.” And in both cases, the people addressed had done work to prepare themselves in spirit for such divine communication. They did this in two different ways: Abram, by exalting God with praise, and Israel, by offering sacrifice. Jesus tells us “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” We don’t need a burnt offering, but we can still look for ways to praise and exalt God, and to act with mercy and kindness towards others. This prepares us for divine guidance, placing us in a good frame of mind to hear from God.
In the Book of Job, it is written, “For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not.” (Job 33:14). Furthermore, Paul writes, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor.2:14) Clearly, God’s communications aren’t always heard by us. The question is, can we train ourselves to listen, and discern God’s desire for us, gaining encouragement and guidance from God? According to the founder of the Jesuits, Ignatius of Loyola, the answer is a resounding “yes!” He teaches us that all life can be divided into the spiritual and the non-spiritual, and that communication comes in two flavors: that which leads to desolation, and that which leads to consolation. To him, even a flat tire could be a source of desolation. He counsels that we need to recognize those aspects of life that lead to desolation and reject them, while accepting with gratitude those things that bring healthy consolation, whether spiritual or non-spiritual. Those things are from God. Let the rest go. Even thoughts that lead to desolation should be let go. It’s easier said than done, but with practice, it’s a useful framework for looking at the world.
- And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. – Romans 12:2
In sum, if we seek clear vision for our lives, we need to 1) want it, 2) prepare ourselves for it, and 3) perceive it. Then, all that remains is to stay true to the vision, to follow the course, remembering, in the words of Paul, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13).
Additional Bible Verses on Vision
- For now we see through a glass, darkly… – 1 Cor 13:12
- Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. – Prov 29:18
See also related WebDefs, such as our entry on wisdom.
What are WebDefs?
WebDefs – simple definitions of key terms relating to ministry and healing arts – are a regular feature of NHM Ministrants. Offered in conjunction with select key scriptural passages and analysis, WebDefs can be a useful starting place for exploring a topic of interest.