Sunday, October 16, 2011

God's Vision is the Real Deal

Vision provides the impetus for progress. As humans we revere our visionaries. Only recently one of the greatest visionaries in human history passed away. Many have mourned his passing, some even venerate him. We love visionaries. They see what we wish we could see, dream the impossible, and then somehow make it happen. And we reap the benefits.

I've been a great dreamer. As far back as I can remember I have set before myself visions to aspire to. When I took up the violin, I dreamed of becoming a great violinist. I polished my violin, admired it in its case, learned all I could about music, composers, and violin music. Today, I can hardly speak of being a violinist without couching it with a thousand caveats and apologies. Why didn’t I achieve my vision? I never wrote it down, but I easily could have in precise terms; so what went wrong? Simple, I didn’t practice enough. And what practice I did, I did wrong. Someone once said practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. They were right.

Juxtaposed to this glorious musical vision of mine has been an even grander vision to be a great scientist. I remember when I was in Junior high my next-door neighbor, who worked for the atomic energy commission, handed me a radioactive piece of uranium about the size of a large walnut (yes, you heard me; this was back in the days when one could build a nuclear reactor in his garage, and nobody cared). He then admonished me: “You know, Bruce, you play at being a scientist; you’re never going to amount to anything unless you work at it.”

A year passed by, and after not submitting a project to the local science fair, my teacher scolded me in front of the entire ninth grade science class: “Bruce, you’re nothing but a tape-recorder. You know a lot of facts, but you don’t know what to do with any of them!” Certainly he had no tact, and my already miserable life in Junior high became more unbearable after that.

But he was right, and so was my neighbor. I’ve maintained many grandiose visions in my lifetime, but failed to work hard enough to achieve any of them. That is why after fifty-five years I remain more of a consumer than a producer—a state I loathe. Sure I am trying to catch-up, but the nerves aren’t as good as they used to be, and it seems the old brain is running out of room; everything has been so hardwired over the years I have to work twice as hard as I would have had to in my youth just to reach the starting box. One cannot go home again.

Companies teach the importance of a vision. No doubt some of them actually believe this. My experience has been that visions are something the employees spend hours of company time drafting, and post around the facility to admire and inspire. But the executives pay little heed to these vision statements, despite the lengths they go to endorse them. The reason is the real short-term vision is always to make as much money as possible with the least cost; and the long-term vision is to continue making increasingly more money each year without incurring increasing costs. There is nothing wrong with these visions; they drive the economy, after all. It would be better if they were upfront about it so everybody could do their jobs with minimal rancor, frustration, and disillusionment.

We see then that there is vision few have the resources, talent, luck, and power to realize; it is a genuine vision that when executed is truly a wonder to behold. There is another kind of vision that is little more than day-dreaming; and there is third type of vision fabricated by the powerful to placate the masses.

Don’t misunderstand me, having a vision is essential if we are ever to progress; vision is a good thing. The trouble is within the framework of human society, visions can more often than not be elusive, corruptible, and devastating; how many people have died without realizing truly great visions because they had been cheated, or were unable to find that right place at the right time, or were too lazy? I grieve for them all because in every case failure arose out of weakness in humankind.

However, there is another vision, one that we can count on despite our corruption, one which is not duplicitous, nor unattainable, nor subject to chance. In fact, this vision was conceived in eternity before the creation of time and space. It is a vision wrought by love and guaranteed to happen because it is God’s vision.

As I have pondered my last several blogs I worried my readers might see me as insensitive somehow; no one has attained to the lofty goals I have enthusiastically espoused. I’m afraid my readers will walk away one by one, disgruntled by my idealism. I do understand.

But it hasn’t been idealism; I haven’t been trying to sell you a bill of goods; I have been trying to give you a vision, not one of my own making but God’s vision—at least as best we can understand it from what He has revealed to us. And this vision is not idealistic, because it is doable. We think it is only a fantasy because so few have even come close to embracing God’s vision for His creation. This is so not because the vision is untrustworthy, but because we have forgotten the vision and supplanted it with a series of our own visions, and in the process lost trust in God.

I haven’t harangued on being authentic human beings, the kingdom of heaven, true freedom and on and on because I want us to feel guilty, or miserable, or hopeless; quite the contrary, I want us to rediscover the true vision and hope we have in Christ so we can effectively walk in Christ today so both ourselves and those who witness our walk and like what they see can be a part of God's glory, for His glory, forever. Without knowing God’s true vision in creating us and the cosmos, it becomes too easy for us to lapse back into selfish-ambition, which if not repented of is fatal.

God’s vision is certain to happen; God has proven Himself faithful because Christ is alive. Let’s embrace that vision, “working out our salvation with fear and trembling,” as Saint Paul taught us. And we know we will succeed because of what Paul said immediately after this, “for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort – for the sake of his good pleasure – is God.”

God’s vision is not an ideal but a reality for all those who love Him by doing what He says. God will have His vision. And He has made it possible through the faithfulness of His son, Jesus the Christ, to be a part of that most certain vision. It behooves us, then, to let go of all the distractions and sin that blind us, and by the power of Christ remain fixed on the vision of God’s glory for His glory; for God’s vision for us is His glory and He is glorified through it. God’s vision is the real deal.