Think about the things you always dreamed of doing. Are you actually doing them? Or at least, are your dreams ‘in the making’? If not, then you probably don’t have a vision for your life.
How come? Because a vision has power to make your dreams come true. There is power in having a vision, but that power is only activated if we mix our vision with faith and take appropriate action.
What is the purpose of a vision
What a vision does can be summed up in one word: clarity. When we have a vision for our life, we can see clearly where we are going. We have direction and know where we are heading in life.
Imagine driving a car and asking someone for direction. The first thing he will ask is, “where are you going?” If you don’t know, how can he tell you which way to take?
If you don’t have a vision for your life, how will you know what decisions to take? Where will you live, what career choices will you make, what kind of person will you marry?
Without a vision, your life will happen to you. Others will make decisions for you. Your boss will decide which position you will fill, whether you like it or not.
On the contrary, if you know where your life is going, you will be in control of your life. You will take decisions that are in line with your vision. Your decisions will get you closer to reaching your goals.
As an example, if you know where you want to get in your job, you can get the appropriate education and then apply for the right position.
What the Bible says about vision
It is no coincidence that the Bible so often contrasts spiritual sight (i.e. vision and dreams) and physical sight.
“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1, NLT)
“As it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.” (Romans 4:17, ESV)
A vision is when you see things that are not (yet). It is activated and empowered by faith. Physical sight on the contrary is seeing the current reality around us.
Both physical and spiritual sight have power: looking at the physical reality around you can discourage you, because everything looks so unlike your spiritual sight (your vision and dreams). That is why it is important to know how to write a vision for your life, so you don’t lose sight of your vision and dreams.
Of course, we don’t live in fairy-tale land. Things don’t just happen by willpower or by some magic. Faith must always be a response to God’s promises, not to our wishful thinking!
Having a vision from God
A great illustration of the power of vision is found in the life of Abraham. God had called him to leave his “father’s household to the land I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1, NIV)
Abraham followed God to a land he had never been before. As Abraham reached the land of Canaan, God gave him an even greater vision:
“Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.” (Genesis 13:14-15, NIV)
The land of Canaan was to be the inheritance, the eternal possession, of Abraham’s descendants! But even that was not enough. The more Abraham walked with God, the more God revealed to him about the future.
In Genesis chapter 15, God gave Abraham yet another vision: “Then the LORD took Abram outside and said to him, ‘Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!’” (Genesis 15:5, NLT)
This is the power of having a vision: When Abraham looked at the sky, he had no children of his own and his wife was barren. God told him to take his eyes off his circumstances and look towards the future – a future that could not be seen with physical eyes!
With each step of faith that Abraham took, God shared more of his vision with him. Abraham never saw all of it fulfilled in his lifetime, but he saw it with his eyes of faith (Hebrews 11:8-10; 11:39). And, as we know, Abraham acted on his faith.
Why having a vision is important
The Bible emphasises the importance of having a vision. In Proverbs 29:18 it says:
“Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is one who keeps the Law.” (NASB)
Vision gives us clarity and shows us the direction we should take in life. We know what choices to make because we are able to assess whether a choice brings us closer towards our vision or not.
Even though Abraham’s vision extended beyond his own lifetime, it prompted him to make two crucial decisions to ensure his vision would come true.
After his wife Sarah died, Abraham bought the cave at Machpelah in Hebron. He was adamant to pay the full price, so that the cave would be his permanent property for burial (Genesis 23:3-18). That cave signified Abraham’s first “foothold” in the Promised Land.
This transaction happened after God had told Abraham, that his descendants would be slaves in a foreign land (Genesis 15:13). By buying a family burial place, Abraham ensured that his descendants would return and live in their God-given purpose.
Another, maybe even more decisive act is recorded in Genesis 24. Abraham made his servant swear twice, to never ever bring his son Isaac back into the land he himself had left so many years before (Genesis 24:6+8).
Abraham knew, if Isaac was to fulfil his purpose – namely to possess the land and to be a blessing to all the families of the earth – he had to stay in the land of Canaan. Before he died, Abraham made sure that Isaac never was leave that land and thus turn his back on God’s promise.
Vision and action
We can see from the life of Abraham, that a vision is not powerfulin itself. The power of vision is activated when it is received in faith and acted on.
People who fulfil their purpose are those who act on their vision. They submit everything they do to their vision. They achieve great things, because they know where they’re heading. And they don’t invest their resources into the wrong things. (Read also: How to stay focused on your goals)
Let’s look at two people in history who illustrate who faith and vision need to work together
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson’s vision
In 1860, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, aged 24, decided to become Britain’s first female physician. Back in 19th century Britain, women were barred from entering medical school. But because of her vision, Elizabeth Anderson was undeterred.
So she searched for loopholes in the system. She took whatever training she was allowed to receive, even hired private tutors. After five years, she became a licensed apothecary. This was not the profession she had wanted; nevertheless, she was able to practice medicine. As hospitals would not accept women physicians, she opened her own practice.
In 1869 the Medical Faculty of the Sorbonne in Paris decided to accept women. Upon hearing this, Elizabeth Anderson took French lessons so she could obtain a doctorate there. In 1873 the British Medical Association finally accepted her as a member.
David Ben Gurion’s vision
David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel, grew up as a Jewish boy in a small town in Poland. In his youth, facing antisemitism and learning about the tragic history of the Jewish people in the diaspora, he reached two conclusions: the Jewish people needed to return to their ancestral homeland, Israel. And secondly, he was to be their leader. Everything he did from then onwards, was submitted to these two visionary goals.
His passion helped him overcome many obstacles, disappointments and setbacks. At that time, Israel was ruled first by the Ottoman then by the British Empire. It was not developed, it was not cultivated, consisting mainly of desert. And worse, most Jews in the diaspora were not interested in Ben Gurion’s plans. But in 1948, against all odds, David Ben Gurion proclaimed the establishment of the modern State of Israel.
The lives of these two visionaries (it’s in the name!!) show us, that writing a vision statement is not enough. Your dreams will not just fall into your lap. Neither will praying bold prayers get you any closer, if you don’t do your part!
The power of our vision will be activated when we take appropriate steps towards that vision. We need to take responsibility for our life. Let’s look at one more example from the Bible to underline that.
Faith and vision
In Numbers 13, we read that after the Israelites had left slavery in Egypt, they stood at the entrance of the Promised Land. They sent out 12 spies to assess the land. After spending 40 days in the land, the spies came back and reported of the richness of the land: “It flows with milk and honey.” (Numbers 13:27, ESV)
However: “The inhabitants of the land were strong, the cities fortified. They were giants, we felt like grasshoppers and we will never never never….” We know how the story ended: the Israelites were overcome by fear, retreated into the desert and, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, never entered the land that God had promised to their father Abraham as their possession.
Why was that? They had a vision that went back more than 400 years, back to their father Abraham. It was a God-given promise. But they did not mix that vision with faith.
“But the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.” (Hebrews 4:2, NKJV)
If we believe God has called us for a particular purpose, or if he has given us a dream for our life, we need to believe that he will help us get there. He won’t do it for us, but we will enable us, strengthen us and help us.
That is what true faith is: it is never passive, but active. But, as said before, it must always be based on God’s actual promise, not our wishful thinking.
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How the power of having a vision changed my life
The reason why I am so passionate about having a vision is, I have experienced the power of vision my own life. Since my early teenage years, I have had a few dreams of what I wanted to do in life. One of them was to be a journalist and an author. Unfortunately, I thought it was just a childish dream and I didn’t pursue it.
My career choices took me in an entirely different direction. For many years I was unhappy in my job. I felt stuck, frustrated and sometimes even hopeless.
Writing my vision
Four years ago, I first learned about the power of having a vision. I wrote down my vision and started setting appropriate goals.
First, I started this blog, as blogging was the obvious first step to become a writer. I also took an evening course in journalism. Blogging helped me develop my skills and, most importantly, I was able to be more and more specific about what I wanted to write about.
A few months after writing down my vision, I lost my job due to a company restructure. Surprisingly, I felt excited about it as it seemed the time for a new beginning had come! Today I understand that a crisis can be an opportunity for something new.
Moving towards my vision
Two and a half years after first writing down my vision, I started work as a journalist (in my day job), in exactly that field that I am passionate about! I also am currently working on my first book and the next one is already in the pipeline.
All this started when I wrote down my personal vision, started to set goals and make decisions that helped me move in the right direction. Every now and then, I pick up my vision book and go through it. Sometimes I add things. Sometimes I realise, I have moved closer to one goal in my vision.
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