When I close my eyes, I can picture the vision God has placed in my heart. I hear the voices of his people getting stronger, more confident, more compelling. I see them leading others to take the next step in their faith journey with Jesus. I feel the warmth of their hugs as we celebrate a new brother or sister growing in God's family.
But, when I open my eyes.
All around me is dark, dank woods. The underbrush encroaches on my soul, threatening to choke out the vision God has placed there. What was so clear five seconds ago is all but lost in the effort of finding my way forward, step-by-step, struggling to find a path that may not even exist.
What keeps us from realizing the visions God has given us?
In the early days we stand high up on a mountain, look across to a higher mountain and hear God say, “There. That is where I want you to go.” Our minds are full of the images God has given us for the future. We see marriages healed, the lost found, the hungry fed, the poor empowered, and disciples growing in Christ and multiplying.
Very quickly after starting our journey, however, we realize that our first steps do not take us higher to the next mountain, they take us down into the valley that separates the mountain we are on from the mountain to which we are called. If we are to achieve the vision God has given us, we must be willing to journey all the way down to the lowest point of the valley before we begin to climb the mountain he’s promised us.
Too many change-makers, facing discouragement, disillusionment, and resistance in the valley, give up. A lack of endurance will doom any initiative before it has a chance to take its first breath. We must encourage one another to endure until we accomplish the goals God has given us, or until he clearly tells us we are to go another way.
We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3–5)
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