What’s God’s Vision for You?


20160309_102709Sometimes you see more with a camera and sometimes you see less.

The other day I went walking through a nearby park where I’ve taken some wonderful pictures of birds, alligators and flowers. But this time I opted to leave the camera behind. As I strolled along, I took in the expanse of scenery. The panoramic view, if you will.

Stunning blue skies, a few wispy white, feather clouds and new blossoms in rainbow variety painted a pastoral landscape. I took it in while the sun warmed my back and the wind teased my hair around my face.

I found a new little alcove hiding a covered bench that overlooked a portion of the lake. The path was new to me, and a smile rushed out of me at the treasure I’d discovered.

Peering over the railing, I rested in the shade and a small movement caught my attention. An orange and green shelled turtle, skirted its way around some cow lily leaves. The surrounding leaves and yellow flowers camouflaged the tiny swimmer.

It was in that moment that I realized sometimes I see more with my camera and 20170816_200512sometimes less. It all depends on what I’m looking for or at. My camera allows me to zoom in from far off and look at things more closely, but I then miss everything in the peripheral.

Had I been looking through the camera lens, I may have missed the tiny turtle hidden among the leaves. I was glad to have been taking in the scene without it.

Later, I spied a white headed bird perched on a tree in the distance.

I live in one of the areas fortunate enough to house bald eagles. We see them more than occasionally. They are a wonder to watch and for a moment, I wished I had my camera so I could zoom in across the lake and see if the bird in question was indeed one the those magnificent creatures. (Eventually, I discovered it wasn’t.)

It all depends on what you’re looking for.

Sometimes I take my camera to my kids’ sports games. I love catching them in action and having a snapshot memory of the event. But when I’m focused on them, I miss the game. Most days, I’d rather see the DSC_0263entire picture than simply one specific scene.

I believe life with God is like that.

I’ve written about looking ahead to the vision, but keeping our eyes on today so we don’t get overwhelmed by the longevity of the road ahead.

But I also see how sometimes we can get so focused in on something that we miss what’s going on around us. Our journey may be centered on a particular path, but there is an entire landscape surrounding us on that journey.

Both are valuable.

Each day, I ask God

“What do you want me to see today?”

“What is your vision for me?”

“What is your plan?”

He may want me to embrace the bigger picture of my life and all that’s happening.20170720_195840 He may want me to see something closer – a trait he’s working on in me, or a way I handled something well, or a hurting neighbor.

God’s vision encompasses past, present and future so he sees far beyond anything I can imagine. With him, I can take in the entirety of a day, a week, a year or a life purpose. If I tune into him, he can point my vision in the best directions. And like a camera zoomingDSC_0141 in to see beauty up close, God also directs me to see things I may miss.

What’s God’s vision for you today?

“He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth— the Lord God Almighty is his name.” Amos 4:13

Are You Running Well?


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photo by Agberto Guimaraes https://unsplash.com/@agb800m

With spring we welcome baseball games and track meets in which running plays a predominant role. Even now, as athletes, our kids are preparing for the coming season with conditioning. In order to steal bases, they must run well. And no track star jumped on a track one day and broke a new record.

But whether we are true athletes or the couch variety, we all are running in a life race.

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photo by Martins Zemlickis https://unsplash.com/@mzemlickis

Our race isn’t a sprint either.

The race of life is a marathon with ups and downs, stumbles and skinned knees, exhaustion and refreshing cups of water. And in the end, we want to cross the finish feeling we’ve run the race well. I can’t wait to see Jesus, fall at his feet and hear him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” I pray that will be the case. As followers of Christ, I think that is our goal.

Hebrews 12 gives us some helpful instruction to make sure we end in that place.

First, it says to “throw off” everything that hinders us and the sin that entangles us.

I haven’t run a marathon, but I can’t imagine that the runners carry around suitcases full of old stuff, winter coats with the idea it will protect them, or chains with iron balls dragging behind them.

That would be crazy, right?

But in life, we cling to hurts, unforgiveness, sinful actions, and addictions that hinder us.

The Bible says to throw it off. The word means a violent action. Not carefully put it down someplace close by where you can pick it up again. Not passively toss it at your feet. No, “throw off” indicates an intentional act of flinging it as far away from you as possible.

Next, this chapter encourages us to persevere.

A marathon takes time and endurance. My daughter who runs has described the physical and emotional challenge of a marathon—that tenth mile when she thinks she’ll never make it to the end.

When we decide we’re going to throw off junk and run, those old patterns may still trip us up, unhealthy relationships will attempt to pull us out of the race, and we’ll get tired on those days that seem like nothing is working and the finish line is a far off figment of our imagination.

We can’t give up, grow weary or lose heart.

Easy for me to say, right? But many other men and women of faith have gone before us, proving that God is faithful to us and his promises (Read Hebrews 11 for a faith boost.)

In order to persevere we must:

  1. Fix our eyes on Jesus. He began our faith and will perfect it. He endured the cross for us and considers US his joy. He put aside the shame of being beaten, naked and mocked so that we could be in relationship with him forever. Consider the opposition he had—even leading to his death. Most of us won’t ever have to suffer that much.
  2. Embrace trials as an opportunity. God sees everything we are going through. The world is a tough, evil place to navigate, but even out of all those terrible things, God can bring good and abundance to us. Those painful situations shape our character and give us depth. Sometimes they are discipline that God lovingly allows to train us. Like the hard training to run a long race.
  3. Remember that others are watching us. Our race is an encouragement to others. When we don’t give up, they believe they can make it too. And they will see Jesus in us as well.
  4. Not allow ourselves to be robbed. I’m not talking your purse or backpack. Bitterness towards situations or others, uncontrolled sexual desires or gluttony (over indulging in anything) can steal the best God has for us—our inheritance in Christ—the Bible calls it. We miss out on his goodness and grace when we allow these things to rule our lives. Temporary, momentary pleasure traded for beyond imagination fulfilment and joy. Not worth it.
  5. Trust that our God is a personal God. He is mighty, powerful, and consuming, but through Jesus, made a way to draw close to him. He welcomes us with open, loving arms. Don’t refuse him. Instead, worship him with confidence, awe and reverence.

How about you? Do you feel like you’re running well? Or do you need some encouragement from the sidelines?

Let me offer you a cup of water.

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