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Death of a Vision


Being that this is kind of a long post, I recorded it on mp3. If you’d like to download it and listen to it when you’re out and about on your ipod or would just rather listen than read, click here

In the last month, so much has happened. With our departure date to Scotland only two weeks away, Rachel and I have found ourselves seemingly short on time. Between the necessary paperwork and travel arrangements, as well as the holiday shopping and baking it seems like just finding time together as a family is a challenge. But, what has really been an additional stressor for me is when my mind begins to wander towards the future, specifically: what my role will be there in Scotland.
You see, I have a very strong desire to be a… minister. Or, a pastor. Or, whatever you want to call it. Forget about what you call it. I want to spend my time being called on to pray for people, or helping them figure things out by praying with them, talking with them, and searching the scriptures together. I love reading the bible and studying the mysteries contained in its pages, and I feel alive when I am teaching about the basic doctrines of the faith. I can’t think of any occupation that I would rather do.
That being said, I do not assume that now is definitely the right time to assume such a role or position. I may not be ready, and if I were, God would open a door for me to do that. However, the church in Scotland that we are going to work with does not even have full time pastors the way we might traditionally think of them. The pastors there are business people and they place strong emphasis on the responsibilities of Christians to remain a part of their community, rather than be an isolated cluster. I respect this drive to be salt and light to the world, and yet at the same time, it doesn’t exactly speak to this burning desire within me to spend my time in the Word.
So, my thought was that, maybe I would go and continue my education. I have some benefits that remain from the G.I. Bill from when I was in the Navy, and figure this would be a perfect time to use that and get some more schooling. I would love to study Greek and Hebrew and dive into some of the classic Christian writers, but when I thought about the logistics of how this could work, the idea kept toppling like a house made of playing cards. The GI bill wasn’t going to be enough to live off of, and what’s more, is that with another baby coming soon (Feb) Rachel is going to need my help.
Basically, there were three things that were tugging me in different directions: 1. Ministry stuff, which I strongly desire to do. 2. Providing for my family. Meaning, getting a job and making sure that Rachel knows we’re not going to be out on the street. 3. Lastly, being there as a husband and father for my family.
Now, as I recently met with a pastor, he reminded me of the order of importance when it comes to these three things. He basically reminded me that God was extremely concerned with my character and that, when I got married, I made strong commitments to my family to be there for them. And that to honor those commitments would not hinder my fruitfulness for the kingdom of God. He’s right. To try and plan going to full time ministry right now, would put too much strain on my young family. I think that if I were to allow this to happen, it would truly be irresponsible on my part, and would just be bad stewardship over the people whom God has trusted into my care. And, if I cannot be faithful with them, how could I be trusted with a larger flock?
So, in light of these ideas, I am putting school, and full time ministry “on the shelf”, till God pulls it down. The plan is to go to Scotland and get a full time job, while being there for my family so that we might grow strong in the might of the Lord. We will be involved in ministry with the church on some level, but, we will definitely strive to be sensitive to the Lord’s leading on that.
As, I have come to identify the desires of my heart and at the same time realizing that now is probably not the time for them, it’s been a painful process. This process is what has been referred to as the “death of a vision”. It’s when you want something really bad, or you think that God is going to give you something but, then the exact opposite happens, and you know that you have to just let it go.
I think the reason that God allows our vision to die, is so that He can resurrect it in His glory, with His strength and His Holiness. If He were to allow us to just succeed with whatever it is that our hearts desires, it is possible that our hearts would be deceived into thinking that it was done on our own strength, borne on the back of our own desires and will to accomplish the tasks. But, if we are forced to let the vision die, and yet against all odds, it is brought back some how at some time, miraculously, then we will be confident that God’s hand is in it, and that it’s His vision and not ours.
This really happened to each of the fathers of the faith at one time or another. Moses had a vision to free the Israelites from Egypt. He tried to do it on his own and, failed miserably. He ended up “on the shelf” for 40 years. Joseph had a vision that he would rule over his brothers. But, he ended up in prison, betrayed, for a very long time—on the shelf. Abraham had a vision of being the father of many nations. He also knew that this would happen through his son Isaac. Yet, when God told him to sacrifice his son, he had enough faith to let that vision die. He figured that it was God who gave him the vision and even if he killed his son, God could raise his son back to life. He let the vision die.
And, then there is Jesus. He knew that He would be the savior of the world. But, in order to do that, He had to entrust Himself to the Father to such a degree that He had to give His life on the cross. In a way, this was the death of a vision for Him, but it was certainly the death of a vision for all of the apostles, who had other ideas about how Jesus would be the coming king of the Jews. They thought they would see His kingdom coming in power, and yet there He was, dying as if a lowly criminal.
That vision died for them, and yet with His resurrection, the vision was resurrected. We still have yet to see the complete fulfillment of that vision. Yet, we know that we shall see it in its fullness one day when our King returns. And, it’s in Him that I place my faith now.
What I mean is, part of why I want to be “in the ministry” is because I really want my heavenly Father to smile down on me from heaven with pride and say, “That’s my boy!” when He sees me doing His work. I want Him to be proud of me, and I want Him to take great pleasure in me. But, doing the work of the ministry is not the way to try to “make Him happy”. In fact, He expressly forbids that kind of “earning” His affections, when He states in the New Testament that our own righteousness is like filthy rags before Him.
My “life verse” (if I had to choose one) would be from Isaiah, where it says, “The Lord does not delight in the strength of a horse, nor in the legs of a man that he should stand. Rather, the Lord delights in those who trust in His unfailing love.” And, yet I always find myself trying to be the “work horse” and not fall down. At the same time, I am so thankful that it is by trusting in Him, that He delights in us, because I am well acquainted with my weaknesses.
All this to say, that I’m laying my strengths and gifts at His altar and taking a step of faith. I’m not going to try to force my way off the bench, on to the court. Rather, I will sit on the bench, or on shelf, and try to rest in His presence and power there until he has other purposes for me. And, really, it’s not as if I’m really on the sidelines. I believe that I will be doing plenty of Spiritual warfare in this next season of my life. It just may not be the kind of stuff that I would be choosing to do. Does this make sense?
Well, God bless you all. Keep us in your prayers please!

8 Responses to “Death of a Vision”

  1. Jayne
    December 27th, 2006 10:10

    Amen!! I have found this to be true. Enjoy sitting on the bench it’s what life is made of. I am enjoying our 3 weeks back on my comfortable bench in Ogema, It feels so good to be home. Soon enough we will be back in India.

  2. John
    December 27th, 2006 12:11

    Yeah, there is definitely something to be enjoyed in truly resting on the bench. And, I’m hoping that after I learn the secret of truly resting on the bench, that I will be better able to truly rest while being “off the bench as well.

  3. Jo Douglas
    January 10th, 2007 19:50

    Thanks John. It was good to hear your voice and your heart again.

    Blessings to you and your family as you rest in Him in this next season.

  4. alison tulloch
    January 11th, 2007 03:50

    heh guys
    great to hear your voice John! hope you’re settling into scotland well. your word was so in season so thank you and we wish you all every blessing, hoping we can meet up soon
    big hugs to rachel and aria!

  5. Susan S.
    January 12th, 2007 08:35

    You asked if what you wrote makes sense. Totally. Bless you…and I hope all is well with Rachel, with the new baby coming soon…

  6. John
    January 12th, 2007 11:23

    Great to hear from all of you. Thanks for the encouragement. We’re really looking forward to seeing how everything plays out ya know? And, all of you who want to see the Kingdom of God come despite our weakenesses… keep praying!

  7. Tara Hills
    January 12th, 2007 21:54

    SUCCINCT. I think that’s how it’s spelled. I had the pleasure of listening to your audio recording of this blog and several times I ‘amened’, or ‘c’monned’, punctuated by much nodding. I’m so grateful that God brought you to that place of surrender and trust. It’s a new depth and new territory…you can’t go wrong on the road of humble trust. I’m proud of you John, and honored to be your sister and friend in this time. I do pray that God will cross our paths soon. Don’t think we haven’t taken your invitation lightly. We’ll be in touch.

    Los Hills

  8. Nita Steiner
    February 6th, 2007 08:57

    Amen to what the Lord is making real to you, John! May this season be filled with God Himself for you and your dear family. Love and blessings to you and Rachel and little ones – your little flock!

    I miss you…

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