It seems like I’ve had a lot of conversations about vision lately. We talk about the importance of vision–“Without a vision, the people perish”–and our own need for direction and motivation. But sometimes I think we—I—tend to obsess over it too much.
I started thinking through people whose stories have made it into scripture, and how they stumbled upon God’s vision for them. Usually it seems it was just like that—stumbling. Walk through scripture with me and see some examples. Abram was living with his father, married with no children, and after his father’s death God said “go.” Joseph had a big ego and weird dreams that got him into trouble, a boss’s wife that played him a dirty trick, and a fellow prisoner who got him an unexpected audience with pharaoh. Four hundred years later Moses commits murder, runs for his life, and after forty years of tending sheep in a God-forsaken desert, meets a burning bush. Gideon was a farmer threshing wheat and hiding from his enemies when God gave him his marching orders. Samuel was dedicated before his birth and started hearing voices when he was sleeping. Saul was unsuccessfully looking for his dad’s lost donkey when he was anointed first king of Israel. David was tending sheep and writing harp music. Peter was sitting in his boat fixing nets.
So often I have this idea that I have to “find” my calling, that so much depends on me and my wisdom in figuring everything out. What are my gifts, my desires, my dreams? How do they fit together? How then shall I live? I drive myself nuts. What if calling isn’t something you “find” yourself, but something that finds you? What if guidance is not something we need to run after, but a promise? “Without a vision, the people perish,” isn’t about the kind of vision we usually talk about. The NIV translates it, “Where there is no revelation, the people throw off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law” (Proverbs 29:13). We ARE a people with revelation–the full counsel of God’s word, and His Spirit within us. And that Word speaks of guidance as an inescapable reality. “For this God is our God for ever and ever; he WILL be our guide even to the end” (Psalm 48:14). “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 139:12).
Living in the presence of a faithful God is enough vision for today. And tomorrow–well, there’s no telling what I may stumble upon.
“I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.
Blessed is the man
who makes the LORD his trust,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
Many, O LORD my God,
are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us
no one can recount to you;
were I to tell of them,
they would be too many to declare.”