Freedom to Pursue Your God-inspired Vision

The wise see danger ahead and avoid it,
    but fools keep going and get into trouble.
Proverbs 27:12 (NCV)

“Oh, why do I want to do everything!”

These are the words I spoke to my husband after a discussion about my commitments for the coming week, month, and year. I resist boundaries. Like the sheep who breaks through the fence and leaves the safety of the pasture, I often wander into dangerous territory.

I like to think I have no limits. I am several decades younger. That my body is as strong as it was then I was 30. That I have as much time left on this earth as I had when I was 50. I imagine this wandering from reality as freedom. It’s the opposite.

Instead of giving me freedom, this thoughtless-wandering takes away my freedom. How so? By following every stray desire that comes into my mind, I lose the ability to focus. I don’t do what I must do today in order to walk out the vision God’s given to me.

God’s vision for us fits the reality of who we are, as humans, in every stage of life from birth to death.

At the same time, his vision for us stretches beyond what we can do by ourselves. As we submit to the boundaries he sets for us, God does amazing things in and through us. He does “much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3: 20 NCV).

Jesus showed us how to do this. He accepted the limitations of a human body and the limitations of time. He had only one vision: to do what Father-God called him to do and that he accomplished.

How did he do so?

  • By accepting the limitations of humanity
  • By living according to the boundaries of Scripture
  • By depending on the Holy Spirit,
  • By resisting every distracting desire and ego-driven imaginative wandering.

Jesus us our example, as well as our Savior. He does not leave us on our own. As we study and meditate on Scripture, his Spirit shows us what boundaries we need, and gives us the power and freedom we need to carry out our God-inspired vision.

 In the early morning, 
 When I first awake
 I converse with Jesus 
 about which path to take.
 Sometimes, I’m feeling tired; 
 The path looks very steep.
 I’m tempted to turn back; 
 I began to fear defeat.
 He cares about my body; 
 He cares about my soul.
 He says, “I’ll walk beside you;
 I will help you reach your goal.
 “I know that you are weary; 
 I remember your age.
 “Your load won’t be too heavy,
 if with me you engage.”
 I respond, “Oh Lord, I know this; 
 You’ve proved it many times.
 I will face this mountain; 
 I’ll take your arm and climb.”
 I look into my Savior’s eyes;
 I see that he is good and wise.
 A song of praise begins to rise; 
 I know that we will win the prize.
 Jane Ault

If we keep looking back, how can we move forward?

“I want to move forward, not backward in life
I don’t want to keep struggling with memories at night
I want to walk beside Jesus, not beside me
. . .”
A Journal Entry

I look in my car’s rearview mirror when I’m backing out of my 150-foot driveway. I’m getting pretty good at it. I’ve learned how to move swiftly and still avoid hitting the two trees which stand on either side of the entrance to the highway. I look in the rearview mirror because I want to go backward. When I reach the highway, I occasionally look in that mirror, but most of the time my eyes are focused on the road in front of me. I no longer want to move backward. I want to move forward.

It’s the same way in life. If we are stuck, we might initially need to look at our past life. Reflect on it. Evaluate how we’ve lived. What mirrors will accurately reflect Truth about ourselves? Our culture? Our Facebook likes and comments? Our family? Our conscience?

All of these mirrors can be helpful. They can also be inaccurate and destructive. Especially conscience. If it’s a condemning one. Self-analysis done through the mirror of introspection (isolated self-analysis) keeps us stuck in the past mire of regret. It prevents us from moving forward.

In my experience, regret has kept me from making changes. Why? Because it’s a self-focused activity in which I see only my errors. Thankfully, Jesus sees more than that! He doesn’t remind me of my errors. He reminds me of his forgiveness. His name for me is not “sinner”. It’s “saint!” Scripture declares that “long ago, even before he made the world, God chose us to be his very own through what Christ would do for us; he decided then to make us holy in his eyes, without a single fault—we who stand before him covered with his love” (Ephesians 1:4 TLB). 

When I look in the mirror of Scripture, through which his Spirit reflects truth, Jesus shows me my heart. He, alone, knows my heart. He, alone, speaks accurately about my past. He does so as I read Scripture and invite him to sit beside me and diagnose my condition.

Looking at my past condition can still be painful. Yet, I’ve found that doing it with Jesus beside me not only reduces pain but also inspires hope. He does not condemn me.

This year, my husband and I hope to celebrate some very significant events. We were married fifty-three years ago, the infant church God called us to is fifty-years-old, our oldest daughter is celebrating a milestone birthday, and our oldest grandchild is graduating from college. Sadly, I’ve been feeling anxious about these celebrations because I’ve been focused on my failures.

Last Sunday, I listened to these words of Scripture spoken by my husband: “Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1).

I understood how destructive my constant looking back had become.

  • I made a decision to let go of the past and embrace the future.
  • To stop looking backward and instead, move forward.
  • To stop viewing myself through the mirror of introspection and see myself through the eyes of Jesus.
  • To stop beating myself up for past dysfunctional behavior and rest in his forgiving love.

This is my prayer and my focus for 2020.

 Lord, be my focal point all through the day.
 Instruct me and guide me; teach me your way.
 Lord, be my comforter all through the night.
 In every affliction, capture my sight.
 Let my eyes, always, behold your dear face
 That filled with joy, I may finish this race.
 Not with the pride of presumption, oh God
 Would I choose suffering and pain as my lot—
 Thinking I possibly merit could earn.
 Delight in dependence, Help me to learn.
 Faith in your goodness is all you require.
 Mercy, not sacrifice, is what you desire.
 Lord, not avoidance of trials will I seek, rather
 Peace that comes from a heart that is meek—
 From a heart submitted, joyful and true—
 One that finds pleasure in following you.
 Jane Ault

Some questions for you to consider

  • Do you think you reflect too little on your past? Or too much?
  • Have you invited Jesus to sit beside you as you reflect on your past?
  • If you haven’t done so, what is keeping you from doing it?

Walking Out Your Vision

Commit your actions to the Lord,
    and your plans will succeed.
Proverbs 16:3 NLT

I laughed when I looked out my window and these two geese waddling on the ice. They weren’t moving very fast. They seemed a bit confused. I don’t know if they got left behind when the flock they were traveling with headed south or if they just ignored the call.

It challenged me to think about my call. My vision for 2020. If I want my dreams fulfilled, I need to design my life to make that happen. Set some goals. Take action. Ask for accountability. I’m working on the goal-setting part and have found a few people to whom I will report my progress or lack thereof.

Most importantly, I need to keep in touch with God, ask for his wisdom, and follow his directions. If I do this, I can confidently expect to see my dreams fulfilled. Even if like a confused goose I miss a call or two (which, being imperfect, I will do) God sees me and re-issues his call. My confidence is in his faithfulness, and part of my vision is to increase my faithfulness.

What about you?
How are you going to walk out the vision God’s given you for 2020?

 Design your life so you can stay
 Close to Jesus, every day.
 Every day and every night, 
 Make his presence your delight.
 Make his will your only choice.
 By listening to the Spirit’s voice,
 You will know which path to take;
 Less often make the same mistake.
 Remember you are still a learner.
 When corrected, do not murmur;
 Then your work will get done sooner.
 Don’t pay attention to false rumor.
 Believe that Jesus keeps his promise;
 He does not let Satan harm us.
 Share your goods, generously.
 Do everything for God’s glory.
 Do the things you are designed for
 By your Father and Creator;
 Respect the temple where he dwells;
 Protect it from falls and ills.
 When you are injured, please forgive.
 Never let resentment live!
 Treat everyone as Jesus does.
 Give up every prejudice.
 Focus not on perfection,
 But on faithful implementation;
 Don’t be lazy or a faker.
 Be a giver, not a taker.
 The Holy Spirit’s your companion.
 He is real, not a phantom.
 Comply with him and find shalom.
 He will not leave you alone.
 Jane Ault 

A Jesus-kind-of Vision for 2020 and the Decade Ahead

January 2nd Sunrise

I don’t often see the sunrise on winter days because clouds cover the sun. But as I was washing breakfast dishes on January second, I looked up from the dirty sink. Though my kitchen window, I saw the bright pink color of the sky reflected in the still unfrozen water pools of the lake.

I quickly left the sink, ran and grabbed my camera. The color of the sunrise disappeared in a moment or two after I took the photo. I would have missed the beautiful scene if I had not looked up.

God is waiting to show us something that’s more brilliant than any sunrise. It’s a vision of him, and it includes a vision of what we can be when we look at him. In order to receive God’s vision, we must look up.

That’s what Jesus did. The writers of the gospels record many instances in which Jesus looked up to Father-God for clarity of vision. It was his habit to get up early ” in the morning when it was still very dark” . . . he went out to a deserted place, and  . . . spent time in prayer (Mark 1:35 NET).

It was his practice to do only what fit in with this vision. He said to his disciples, ” I do nothing on my own initiative, but I speak just what the Father taught me” (John 8:28 NET).

This year I’ve taken some time to look up to God and receive his vision for 2020. He faithfully gave me a picture of what my life can look like if I follow his instructions. It’s a beautiful picture.

I’m not sharing the details here, but my vision is based on the concept of Shalom, the Biblical word for well-being. I feel peaceful when I read it. I feel challenged by it because I know in order to accomplish it, I will need to look up to my Father-God like Jesus did.

What will happen if I, like Jesus, do and say only the things the Father shows me to do and say? The Holy Spirit will do more than I can think or imagine. Jesus’s life and love will flow in and through me to others in ways I haven’t yet experienced. That is my desire and my hope.

Do you have a vision inspired by Father-God this year? If you don’t, know that if you truly want it, he will give you one. Don’t keep looking at whatever “dirty sink of dishes” is in front of you. Look up and like Jesus receive the beautiful vision available to you.

Then, by the power of the Holy Spirit follow through, like Jesus did, saying and doing what he shows you to say and do. You will be amazed at the results. “With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20 NCV)