I remember my optometrist giving me my annual vision exam. It was an “eye-opening” experience, so to speak. The prescription was strong. This was in conjunction with the fact that a few weeks earlier 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). Bottom line: I can’t see—much less read or drive—without help from glasses or contacts. Add to that the “presbyopia” (elder vision) we all get with age, and CORR LENS will be a fixture for me.
The good news is that with those 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, and 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 placed over our view of the future brings clarity. Then, the fatigue and listlessness that accompany our inability to see a hopeful future 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 a helpful lens for many to feel confident enough to invest their time, talent and treasure in the vision becoming 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.
One thing that gets discussed a lot here at LOC amongst us as elders and other leaders is 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 who know and reveal Christ for His Kingdom.
Strength of biblical preaching and teaching has been an earmark of LOC that has played a primary role in both drawing people into and growing people through the process of discipleship over the years. That remains a fixture of our church. In addition, we have offered wonderful programs for kids, students and adults. We’ve also had great worship through our music ministry. Our vision has always included a full range of ministries that offer something for everybody. We have been very intentional about creating programming to which people are drawn. That won’t change!
On a regular basis, we seek the Lord in updating the prescription for the near future. But the vision is always about the long view. We have to ask, “Why are we doing this?” We do this for the same reasons the “faith heroes” of Scripture were compelled to do what they did. Ultimately, it wasn’t about this world. We want to prepare people for heaven.
If we are effective in our techniques, goals and objectives, we will produce disciples who seek to make disciples who know and reveal Christ. And like the faith heroes of old, they will have vision to see beyond this world and “desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:16).
“To You I lift up my eyes, O You who are enthroned in the heavens!”