I hate to admit it, but the other day I had to break down and buy a stronger set of non-prescription reading glasses. As someone who has always had superb, even superior, eyesight, it was humbling to acknowledge my faithful and beautiful eyes are not what they once were. The contents label on most packaging just keeps getting smaller and smaller, and I’m contemplating the advantage of wearing my glasses on a chain like a staid librarian. I may have to relinquish dignity, let alone vanity.
Fortunately, as so often happens in the balance of life, what we lose in physical strength, we regain in mental or spiritual acuity. Both wisdom and experience hone our view, enabling us to portent events long before they even come across the actual radar. It’s possible to perceive both problems and potentialities with purer insight and less bias. Accumulated days enable recognition of the detailed minutiae that can wantonly derail what seems certain. The inward eye of faith is tremendously activated in prayer or meditation, and inspired imagery may burst upon us with great force, coloring our day. There is more than one way to see.
The last couple of years have been anything but visionary. Covid has us walking in a fog which totally obscures the future. I find it tremendously significant that when I consult my respected spiritual sources for a Rhema word for the New Year, they are pretty silent. The prophets are strangely mute. So, it isn't just me. When I consult the Lord directly, something I have been doing in advance of the New Year for the past twenty years or so, the impressions I receive are very…skimpy. A little here, a little there, but nothing really cohesive. These are not days when the big horizon is being seen. You cannot force vision.
But that word has been on my mind lately. It keeps tantalizingly reoccurring. My antenna is up, but I’m still not sure what the Lord is trying to say to me. Have I grown sloppy in my focus? Does He want to give me dreams or visions at a new level? Is He saying “pay attention, watch this”? Is He about to endow me with sharper prophetic ability? The word is as much a puzzle I can’t see the answer to as anything else.
I’m not the first to have vision problems. In the book of Acts, we catch up with Paul, going gang-busters with evangelical zeal. But even the passionate and indefatigable Apostle hits an inexplicable roadblock in his travels.
Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them. Acts 16:5-10
Of all people, you’d think the intrepid Paul would never want for direction, impetus, or energy. Wasn’t he doing everything right? In the very middle of his dynamic mission, the Holy Spirit stopped him dead in his tracks. For reasons completely unclarified, he is forbidden to take the next natural steps. We never learn why the abrupt shift in direction was mandated, but after receiving a critical dream, his sights are reset on Macedonia, and he carries on.
Perhaps one of the most disconcerting things about being permitted to see through the Lord’s eyes is that this revelation can descend without warning, sharp, strong, and amazingly crystalline, but then evanesce just as rapidly. Vision has a quicksilver quality that demands our attention in the moment. It is enigmatic and elusive, imperious and unpredictable, oftentimes leaving us equal parts excited and unsettled. And yet, without this supernatural insight, we are at sea, tossed by circumstances and drifting.
How many times have you woken from sleep, shaken by a dream, knowing it was something supernatural? Write it down with the most details you can recall. I’m not a big dreamer myself, but the spiritual dreams I did have still impact me, so vivid and powerful were they. Just when you think you’re not growing at all in faith, you’re insensitive, obtuse and dull as ditchwater, the Lord meets you in sleep with a dream that shakes you to your core. Once again, vision is reborn.
Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; They will see the land that is very far off. Isaiah 33:17
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