For several years I led an organization that asked two questions: “What is God’s vision for your life?” and, “How can we help you fulfill God’s vision?” Some churches are beginning to ask these questions regarding those who attend. They are, I believe, the right questions. Unlike the institutional and program oriented question, “How can you help our church?” these questions help people discover the transforming dynamic of God that changes their lives and the world. Most people have an innate sense that God has a vision and purpose for their life. At the same time, most people have difficulty finding God’s vision and living it.
Two weeks ago I spent the weekend with a relatively new church in Wisconsin that is learning to ask these questions. The church started ten years ago with two hundred people present. Ten years later more than 1,400 gather each weekend at Jacobs Well in Eau Claire. During lunch I sat beside a woman who was obviously very involved and comfortable at the church. I asked if she was a staff member. She laughed and said, “No, I am a volunteer.” I later learned that two years ago she was addicted to drugs and battling depression.
A few years ago I visited the Harley Davidson factory in Kansas City. We wanted to learn what made Harley Davidson tick (or rumble) and why this company had made such a dramatic turn around. We visited the teams assembling the bikes and met with their managers. We listened to one of their young executives who introduced himself as “a disciple of Jesus Christ disguised as a Harley Davidson executive.”
In 2004 I answered my cell phone and listened as a young woman with a speech impediment introduced herself. “I’m Heather. I have cerebral palsy. God has called me to India. How can you help me?” That brief conversation started a long friendship. I drove to Waco to visit Heather and found her confined to a wheel chair with limited use of one arm. In spite of her disabilities, she radiated the presence of Christ. She said God whispered in her ear, “India.” She has been to Bangalore twice to work with others who have similar handicaps to her own and plans to return. She wrote her first children’s book this year entitled “My Friends and I.”
God has a vision for every life. It is just a matter of finding God’s vision and living it out. Here are some clues I have discovered that help people get started on that journey: 1. Trust Jesus Christ and welcome Him into your life, 2. Study the Bible. God speaks to us through His Word, 3. Pray. Start praying for others, not just yourself and your own family, and 4. Listen to other believers who seek to encourage you. Get involved in a healthy church and a small group of authentic followers of Jesus Christ.
When Paul neared the end of his life, he said, “I have not been disobedient to the vision.” (Acts 26:19). He followed the principles in the previous paragraph. His journey started with his trust in Jesus Christ on the way to Damascus. He studied the Scriptures and discovered its mysteries. He prayed constantly for others. Barnabas encouraged him and introduced him to other believers. He became involved in the church at Antioch that “set him apart” for “the work to which God had called him.” When he got stumped, he looked for God’s vision for the next step on his journey. (Acts 16:6-10).
(Heather Herschap's new children's book, "My Friends and I," is available on Amazon)