Lynn Anderson tell the story about a shipload of travelers who landed on the northeast coast of America about 350 years ago. The first year they established a town site. The next year they elected a town government. The third year the town government planned to build a road five miles westward into the wilderness. In the fourth year the people tried to impeach their town government because they thought it was a waste of public funds to build a road five miles westward into a wilderness. Who needed to go there anyway?
Here were people who had the vision to see three thousand miles across an ocean and overcome great hardships to get there. But in just a few years they were not able to see even five miles out-of-town.
Too often this is our challenge when it comes to spiritual matters. After becoming Christians we lose our “pioneering vision.” We fail to see what can become in Christ. We lose sight of our heavenly home. Much of that is because we live in a dark and fallen world. Jesus issued both a warning and a challenge in this regard when he exhorted:
“A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
Like American soldiers who used night vision goggles in Iraq to see the enemy and aid them in their military operations, Christians need “night vision” to see through the darkness of the devil’s devices. Four things are necessary if we are to have the right kind of spiritual vision.
(1) It begins with the ability to see with our spiritual eyes (Eph.1:18). To see sin for how bad it is. To see how the devil tries to trap us. To see the consequences of bad behavior. To see like Moses, who through the darkness of slavery was able to envision a brighter day for God’s people. In other words we need spiritual awareness.
(2) It progresses with the faith to believe. This has to do with having the right kind of attitude. The attitude of Jesus (Phil 2:5). Righteousness. Trusting. Faithful. Too many churches and Christians fall captive to darkness because of unbelief. Or they fail to realize their potential because of a lack of faith. Jesus said to the two blind men in Matthew 9:29, “According to your faith, be it unto you.” Faith is the yardstick by which our portion in life is measured. And it is the basis for spiritual vision.
(3) It leads to the courage to do. To do God’s work. To do what is right. To do what we know we ought to do. I just discovered of the one best definitions of courage that I’ve ever seen. Debra Oakland wrote, “Courage is the will to act upon the strength and power within the heart.” It’s not enough to know what is right. We are called to action. And that takes will power. But when the cause is greater than the circumstances, you will find the courage to act.
(4) It results in the hope to persevere. To persist. To hang on. Winfried Newman once said, “Vision is the world’s most desperate need. There are no hopeless situations, only hopeless people.” We need hope to endure the rigors of hardship. The ridicule of skeptics. The ignorance of unbelievers. The obstacles of adversity. And the doubts that try to betray us.
E. Paul Hovey was right when he wrote, “A blind man’s world is bound by the limits of his touch and ignorant man’s world by the limits of his knowledge; and a great man’s world by the limits of his vision.” Thank be to God that He has given us the “spiritual night goggles” of His word through which we can see through the dark fog of sin.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman