“Watching & Waiting” Meditations: 7. Let Him stir your vision
Heb 11:10 “he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
There was a time I can remember when one of the mostly commonly quoted verses was, “Where there is no vision the people perish” or its various other interpretations (Prov 29:18) and then “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Prov 13:12). Without dwelling on either of them in any depth, when you put them together there is a reality that we need vision but unless that vision is fulfilled, we will find ourselves saddened, anguished, even burdened and if we are not careful the enemy can turn burdens into guilt.
So how does all this come into our thoughts of watching and waiting, becoming God’s visionaries? I think the answer is that in our search we must be realistic.
For example, we read of people like Brother Lawrence, a lay worker in a monastery of Paris and his ‘practicing the presence of God’, and we may be put off by the level of devotion that such a man achieved and yet in reading what he wrote I observe such words as, “For the first years…” and “Thus I continued some years…” and, “At length I began to….” and then, “Such was my beginning.” This all speaks of a process that took time. Our Christian experience of God is spread over time, it grows over time and so if we make a start down a particular avenue of investigation of experience of God, it is only the foolhardy who expect it to be achieved in a matter of days.
We catch a vision, usually a glimmer of what could be, and we find the Lord drawing us to it, but then as we ponder on it over days or weeks or even years, it may develop and as it does we realise there is so much more than we saw at first and the initial temptation is to feel down that we are going nowhere so slowly! This is simply to say that there are many facets to any vision and it is no less true of the vision of watching and waiting for God and on God than anything else.
Having quoted Brother Lawrence, I realise I need to read him again. His short book is available free on line if you want to go looking. But even the title I find speaks to me. The word ‘practicing’ can simply mean carrying out an exercise or role, like a doctor ‘practices’ medicine. But then change just one letter and ‘practise’ becomes repeating something regularly in order to improve it. So when we speak about prayer and watching and waiting on God, we can mean the activity of doing this but then, being realistic, we need to add, we need to practise this, work on it, improve it and so on.
Another aspect to be recognised here is that there is no one way for these things. If you have ever read Richard Foster’s ‘Streams of Living Water’ you will have been introduced to the different ‘traditions’ across the Christian Church – Contemplative, Holiness, Charismatic, Social Justice, Evangelical, Incarnational, all different ways of seeing and experiencing. Our problem sometimes, as believers, is that we come across one approach, or one style of church (the ‘Purpose Driven’ movement is a good illustration) and we latch on to someone else’s ‘success’ and think this is the only way. The only way is the way God puts before you at the present for your unique situation.
We have been focusing over these recent days on being still and listening but we mustn’t feel that this is the only approach to God. I still maintain it is vital that we learn to do that, but the truth is – as I have observed while readings the writings of various other prayer warriors – that if we dare be honest, we will have days when in the stillness we will have an incredible sense of the holy presence of God, and on other days it will seem like He’s gone off down the other end of the universe. He hasn’t but if we’re honest, it feels like that. I have to confess that this morning I went into my prayer sanctuary and our starter verse and thoughts of ‘vision’ had already started to appear in my consciousness and so without thinking I just burbled at the Lord for a couple of minutes and then confessed, “Oh Lord, I’m sorry that was just an outpouring and also a shopping list.” I sense a chuckle from heaven with a reply, “That’s fine, son, I love to hear my kids when they are excited.” I then went into ‘stillness mode’ but He then poured out lots more thoughts about vision which I’ll perhaps share tomorrow.
But back in Hebrews, the writer was referring to Abraham who, “when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went,” (v.8) and “lived in tents,” (v.9) “For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (v.10) But he then goes on and adds, “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth,” (v.13). Do you see that? They had the vision but never received it because it was a vision, not of earth but of a future heaven and earth (Rev 21:1,2) but that didn’t stop them yearning for it, seeking it, asking for it, working for it. The hope of this vision may seem distant but we must never let it ‘make the heart sick.’ Spend times in silent waiting, intersperse it was burbling your heart out to God, sing and dance and praise the Lord; this waiting and watching with our Creative God, will be more like a kaleidoscope with its changing shapes and colours that are so beautiful. Experience more of it as you watch and wait. More tomorrow.