Dr. Doug Posey
Not long ago, my optometrist gave me my annual vision exam. It was an “eye-opening” experience, so to speak. This was in conjunction with the fact that a few weeks ago I had to go in for the vision test at the DMV to renew my license. For the only time since I received my driver’s license in 1970, the restriction reading “CORR LENS” appears on the front of it. That means I can’t see well enough at a distance to legally drive (I couldn’t even discern the largest letter on the chart without my glasses). Then, my eye exam revealed that I need +5.75 diopter lenses just so I can read. Bottom line: I can’t see—much less read or drive—without help from glasses or contacts and it’s getting worse with age.
The good news is that with corrective lenses, my vision is at least 20/20. It’s really miraculous when you think of it. Place a lens in, or over my eye, which slightly refracts the incoming light and suddenly things are in focus; my Bible text looks crystal clear, I can see the date on my watch, the trees and shrubs look like works of photographic realism rather than an impressionistic painting.
Compared to many of God’s other creatures, we humans have notoriously poor eyesight. But, there’s another kind of vision that seems lacking amongst our kind. It’s the sort of vision animals don’t really need, but without it, people perish.
As far as I can tell, animals concern themselves with the here-and-now, or what is immediately next. Dogs might salivate in expectation of the next treat, but there is no indication that they have hopes or plans for the years that lie ahead. Some animals, especially some birds and sea creatures, migrate to and from pre-determined destinations, but their instinctual travels do not amount to the kind of future and hope (true vision) to which humans can aspire.
As with physical vision, our vision for the future sometimes requires a “corrective lens” of some kind. Life and direction can be completely out of focus until something is placed over our view of the future that brings clarity. Then, the fatigue and listlessness that accompany the inability to see things that bring hope can be replaced with an energy and determination to take the next necessary steps with certainty.
Recently, I looked back to an eSermon, like this one, in which I was casting vision for the future of Living Oaks in a new year. Many of the hopes and dreams expressed in that writing have come to pass over the last several years. Just helping people see ahead of time what God may have in store for us provided the necessary lens for many to feel confident to invest their time, talent and treasure in making the vision a reality. They could see what they couldn’t see before.
The old adage, “Seeing is believing” gets reversed for those who have the faith to see what God has in store. Instead, the person with vision born of faith says, “Believing is seeing.” Faith refracts present circumstances in such a way that a vision for something better becomes clear.
For some time now, I—along with the elders and lead team—have been feeling the need for an updated prescription when it comes to a clear vision about where God might be leading Living Oaks for the coming years. In fact, that should happen on a regular basis. What we saw several years ago helped guide us so far, but there has been a need for a fresh conceptualization of the future. I believe God has prescribed what we need to see—a vision—to make us more effective in making disciples for His Kingdom.
Strength of biblical preaching and teaching, along with excellence in worship, have been earmarks of LOC that have played a primary role in drawing thousands to our church over the years. In addition, we have offered wonderful programs for kids, students and adults. Our vision has been to present a full range of ministries that offers something for everybody. We have been very intentional about creating programming to which people are drawn. That won’t change! However, there is something God has been calling us to do that goes beyond any mere program.
The lens that makes the future clear at this juncture is “relationship.” It is about relationship with God and others. Disciples are made through relationship and God is calling us to be a disciple-making church. We’ve always been about nurturing, feeding and strengthening for mostly already-existing disciples. But, we have taken relatively few people from pre-conversion to becoming disciple-makers. That requires being intentional about relationship, doing life, not just church, together.
So, stay tuned as God tweaks our prescription. We know He wants us to intentionally pursue creating environments that facilitate authentic, healthy, transparent relationships. God wants us to be known for loving Him and others in our church and community; not just loving the preaching, the music, or the array of programs.
Pray as God helps us see the details in a way that guides us into His plan. By the year 2020, hopefully we can look back on a vision that was 20/20.
“To You I lift up my eyes, O You who are enthroned in the heavens!” —PSALM 123:1