â€œI’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onwardâ€”to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred visionâ€”you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.â€—Philippians 3:12-16 (Message)
â€œThe vision that you glorify in your mind, the ideal that you enthrone in your heart, this will build your life by, and this you will become.â€—Anonymous
â€œHell begins on the day when God grants us a clear vision of all that we might have achieved, of all the gifts which we have wasted, of all that we would have done that we did not do.â€—Gian Carlo Menotti
OK, if you can tell me who recorded this song, while I wonâ€™t give you a million dollars, I will definitely respect you as a true music connoisseur:
If I knew back then what I know now
If I understood the what, when, why and how
Now it’s clear to me
What I should have done
But hindsight is 20/20 vision
Itâ€™s weird, but at the most random times this is what I will find myself singing. In some ways, it makes total sense because this year I have spent a lot of time going â€œpattern shoppingâ€; not when it comes to my clothes, but how I have chosen to live my life.
A wise man once said, â€œLook at your life. What you see is evidence of what you believe you deserve.â€ In many ways, other than my professional career, I must admit that it would appear that for years I mustâ€™ve thought that I didnâ€™t deserve very much. In oh, so many ways I have settled, but like George Benson said back in 1990 thatâ€™s what hindsight will do for you; show you what you didnâ€™t see, but should have.
Hindsight. Do you know whatâ€™s really fascinating about that word? As I was researching scriptures for todayâ€™s message, not once did I find it listed in the Bible. Not in the New King James; not in the Amplified; not in the Message, not even in my copy of the Strongâ€™s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Is it just me, or are you also amazed that so often we spend so much time in â€œrecognition of the realities, possibilities, or requirements of a situation, event, decision etc., after its occurrenceâ€, when it appears that doing so is something that doesnâ€™t even show up on the Bibleâ€™s radar screen? Itâ€™s almost as if we have become so accustomed to learning things after the fact, that we have accepted it as the spiritual norm when actually what God calls us to do is walk by faith rather than sight (2 Corinthians 5:7); to forget whatâ€™s behind us and move forward (Philippians 3:12-14).
Why do we spend so much time looking over our shoulder—literally and metaphorically? Why do we feel like we have to live condemned (Romans 8:1) to a life sentence for something weâ€™ve done that we donâ€™t have the power to go back and change no matter how badly we want to? Why do we fail to claim scriptures like Micah 7:18-20 (Message)? Ones that serve as a blaring reminder of the character of our God:
Where is the god who can compare with youâ€”
wiping the slate clean of guilt,
Turning a blind eye, a deaf ear,
to the past sins of your purged and precious people?
You don’t nurse your anger and don’t stay angry long,
for mercy is your specialty. That’s what you love most.
And compassion is on its way to us.
You’ll stamp out our wrongdoing.
You’ll sink our sins
to the bottom of the ocean.
You’ll stay true to your word to Father Jacob
and continue the compassion you showed Grandfather Abrahamâ€”
Everything you promised our ancestors
from a long time ago.
The answer is actually quite simple. If we spend a lot of time looking backwards, we can never see whatâ€™s in front of us and personally, I think the Enemy would have it no other way.
Just a couple of days ago, I was watching a sitcom. In this particular scene, the dialogue went as so:
â€œMommy, can I have a cookie?â€
â€œWhat did Tia say?â€
â€œShe said â€˜noâ€™.â€
â€œAnd how do you spell â€˜noâ€™?â€
â€œRight. Very good. Now you have an answer and a lesson.â€
That really struck a chord with me because I believe that is what revelation from God is all about, although many times I really believe that we miss it. So often, we are so focused on getting â€œan answerâ€ that we donâ€™t see that oftentimes the process is more about learning the lesson that leads to the answer—something that usually happens during the time that we are waiting. We want to know when our job, our ministry, our spouse, our child, our money, our healing, our breakthrough, our change will come when in all actuality itâ€™s coming even as we are waiting for it (if we choose to look at it that way). I think I have shared with you a greeting card that hangs on my mirror and greets me everyday before, but due to the content of todayâ€™s message, I think it definitely bears repeating:
â€œI beg you…to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Donâ€™t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.â€—-Rainer Maria Rilke
Do you know what the two-word translation of this message is? CHILL OUT. Of course, for the religious and overly-analytical skeptics who have a hard time being still, there are scriptures to back this up as well:
â€œWait for the Lord, and He will save you.â€—Proverbs 20:22 (NKJV)
â€œAnd therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!â€—Isaiah 30:18 (AMP)
â€œBut those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.â€—Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)
â€œThe Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him [inquire of and for Him and require Him by right of necessity and on the authority of God’s word].â€—Lamentations 3:25 (AMP)
Do you see the consequences that result in waiting? God saves you. God is gracious to you. God has mercy and shows loving-kindness to you. God gives strength to you. God is good to you. Now see. When you look at it that way, waiting is not so bad. Itâ€™s actually pretty great. However, what I have come to see in a way more clearly than I ever have before is that waiting also helps your vision.
Recently, I was hanging out with a friend of mine. As I was sending a text to someone, she said, â€œYou have really good vision.â€ Physically, I have 20/20 vision and I am most certainly grateful for it, but spiritually, eh, itâ€™s not as good as it needs to be. This waiting period of mine is correcting it, though (thank the Lord!).
Iâ€™m sure we all know that when we go to get our eyes tested, they check to see if we have perfect eyesight. And, when we donâ€™t, some of us discover that we are farsighted, while others learn that they are nearsighted. When youâ€™re unable to see distant objects clearly, you are nearsighted. When you are unable to see things close up as well as you should, you are farsighted.
Oh, please believe that in the spiritual sense, when it comes to our vision, there are people walking around with the same diagnosis. As a matter of fact, those with perfect vision are a huge rarity, but there are plenty who can either see/visualize close up or far off but not too much in-between. I, for instance, am nearsighted.
I can see myself dating better than I can see myself married.
I can see myself picking up some clothes on sale, but I have a hard time seeing myself saving up for a new car.
I can see myself turning down ice cream for a week, but not running on my treadmill for a year.
I can see myself babysitting all of my surrogate nieces and nephews, but not so clear? Being a mother.
I can see myself setting boundaries with friends (short-term), but I have a hard time setting boundaries with family members (long-term).
And then, I have friends who are most definitely farsighted.
They can see themselves making millions of dollars in a few years, but they are not clear on why they need to set a budget.
They can see themselves having a family, but they donâ€™t understand why they need to work on their funky attitude.
They can see themselves losing weight, but they are always calling me from a fast food restaurants.
They can see themselves starting their own business, but they are too scared to leave their job.
They can see themselves being independent, but they are still relying on their parents (and they are grown).
Just today, do you know what God told me? â€œShellie, in order to write the best vision for your life, you need to be able to see it clearly first.â€ That was HUGE for me! So many of us quote â€œWrite the vision, make it plainâ€, (Habakkuk 2:2) but I wonder if we focus on the â€œmaking it plainâ€ part as much as we do the writing part. Iâ€™ll explain.
Have you ever tried writing in the dark, or if you are someone with impaired vision, writing without your glasses on and then turned on the light to review what youâ€™ve written? Doesnâ€™t it look a hot mess; nothing like what you thought it would? Now, think back to the man who said that your life right now reflects what you think that you deserve. The light bulb moment of it all is that right now, at this very moment, many of us are living out the result of the â€œblurry visionâ€ we once penned out for ourselves (because after all, we are made in the image of beings who spoke things into existence (Genesis 1:3)..
I John 1:5 says that God is light and in him, there is no darkness. I thank God that he presents things to me in a way where I can see them (which is very rarely an overly-religious, super-spiritual kind of way) because what this has shown me is that it was my â€œnearsightednessâ€ that caused me to be promiscuous, terminate pregnancies, write bad checks, live in lies and denial, compromise my principles, let people run my life (emotionally), fear my individuality, disrespect boundaries, take abuse, etc., etc., etc. Because back then I was looking in the now and because God was not a priority to me, what I was â€œwriting for my lifeâ€ was blurry at best. I was making â€œright nowâ€ decisions not thinking about the effect it would have on me and my world long-term. Sure, at the time, because God was not the light of my life, the â€œvisionâ€ I was writing through my actions seemed to make perfect sense, but oh, as God and I get closer—how ridiculous some of those â€œvisions/actionsâ€ now appear. See, what my waiting time has been teaching me is that while writing my vision has never been an issue, making it plain so that it can be spiritually-legible to both me and God has definitely been a challenge. The hold up in it â€œsurely comingâ€ has not been him, but me.
â€œMy son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; for whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.â€—Proverbs 3:11-12 (NKJV)
Do you know what I realize I need to do? I need to sit back, chill out and let God correct my vision before I get to planning out anything else in my life right now. Sure, I have wants, desires and goals, but I want to be able to move forward seeing things clearly. I want to have the kind of character where I can trust that the decisions I make now will prepare me for what is to come; things that are good, beneficial, blessed and right (not just good, but right).
This week, take some time to think about your own spiritual vision. How do you see things? Are you so focused on the long-term that you ignore the steps that will get you there? Are you so consumed in the now that later is not as much of a concern to you as it should be? Take it from me, itâ€™s a lot easier to â€œmake movesâ€ when you see where youâ€™re going. Godâ€™s light and our faith complemented by patience and obedience give us that.
No matter how youâ€™ve been â€œseeing thingsâ€, God can correct your vision and restore it to perfection: Let him.
Â©Shellie R. Warren/2007