Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (Proverbs 29:18)
I was in the choir during my seminary days. When I was in Year 2, the choir presented a song for the graduating class during the graduation service, and the song was entitled, “Give us a vision, Lord”.
The lyric of the song was, “Where there is no vision, the people perish. Give us your vision, Lord.” The lyrics were inspired by Proverbs 29:18.
During our choir practice, the conductor told us that she had chosen this song for the choir to sing for the graduating class as they would be moving from the seminary into the world. They needed to be reminded that they were being sent out on God’s mission. They would need vision from the Lord for the tasks in front of them. They would need vision from God for the church they would be going to, they would need vision from God for those who were going back to the marketplaces, or serving in the para-church.
If they moved forward without vision, it would not be good. This verse says, people will perish without vision from God.
Today is the 20th day into the new year. Usually, at the beginning of each year, we make new year resolutions. New Year resolutions help us to improve ourselves, to achieve our ambitions, what I want to achieve for myself: I want to keep fit, I want to go for missions trip, I want to be more effective at work.
As disciples of Jesus, we want God to be in our new year resolutions. We want to use the gifts He has blessed us with to serve Him and to help others so that God will be glorified and we will live fulfilling lives.
No one on earth has your backgrounds, or the same life experiences as you do. You are uniquely you in the entire history of mankind. You are unique and only you can fulfil the things God wants to do through you. No one else can fulfil what God wants to do through you: not your children, not your grandchildren, not your friends but you.
We are here on this earth, at this time, for such a time as this. God wants to do something through us: through you and me. Let us catch God’s vision for us.
Vision is: able to see in our minds God’s plan and purpose for our lives—both now and the future, partial (may be only a bit) and whole (a more complete picture), individual and corporate and take actions to do what God has told us to.
Our society talks about KPI: what I can do, what I can achieve. As disciples of Christ, our vision always go back to what the Lord has in mind for us. What He can do, what can God do through me, how I can let God use me.
The King James Version says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” (Proverbs 29:18)
For people with vision and they obey God, they are happy people. Some translations say, we are blessed. We are blessed and happy. Other meanings of the word “happy” are: “blessed, joyful, successful, peaceful”. We will be happy and blessed when we submit to God’s plans for us.
This verse also tells us, “where there is no vision, people perish”. Without purpose in life, time will pass by aimlessly. Life will go by aimlessly too. Without vision, we will lost the purpose and the joy of life. Every day is just another day to get through, and not a gift. When we have the attitude of living an average life, we will miss the opportunity to experience God’s presence, power and provision (material provision, or provision in terms of giving us strength, wisdom and so on). When we see God’s plan for us, every day has a purpose.
How do we see God’s plan for us?
S. O. A. R (soar on eagle’s wings)
The Lord says in Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” The Lord was speaking to His people, the Israelites when they were in captivity in Babylon. God planned a new beginning and a new purpose for them to reassure them that He was with them.
This promise is for us too. When we seek Him, we will find Him.
Intentionally quiet down ourselves to seek God and His direction for us. Make time to hear from God. I go for silent retreats to hear from God every year to listen to what He is saying to me personally, and also to the church. Cultivate the disciplines of solitude to hear clearly from God.
“To obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22)
This is only the first of many places in the Bible that talks about “obedience is better than sacrifice” (Ps 40:6-8, 51:16, 17; Proverbs 21:3; Isaiah 1:11-17; Jeremiah 7:21-23; Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:6-8; Matthew 12:7; Mark 12:33; Hebrews 10: 8,9).
Sacrifices in the Old Testament were a ritual that physically demonstrated a relationship between God and a person. Today, if we do “everything” right (we go to church, we are serving in ministries, we are giving to charity), but if our heart is not right with God, everything we do outwardly is meaningless.
We need to obey if we want to embrace God’s vision. We can’t have it my way and God’s way. It is my way, or it is God’s way. We need obedience to respond to God’s vision. In obedience, we will find life.
We want God to speak to us and use us to do something. But we don’t want to make adjustments in our life. If we look at the Bible, when God spoke to His men and women to carry out something, they had to adjust to Him. Some had to leave their families and countries behind. Some had to remove their prejudices. Other had to leave behind life goals, dreams and wishes.
For example, Abraham could not stay at home and go where God asked him to (Gen 12:1-8).
Moses could not be a shepherd and yet lead the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 3).
David left his life as a shepherd boy behind to become king (1 Sam 16:1-13).
Jonah left his home and work on his prejudice before he could preach at Nineveh (Jonah 1:1-2, 3:1-2; 4:1-11).
Peter, Andrew, James and John left their fishing business to follow Jesus (Matthew 4:18-22).
Once they had adjusted to God, only then God could use them to carry out His plan and purposes.
Even Jesus Christ has to adjust His life to God’s plan: He forsook His glorious life in Heaven, come down to Earth to save us by dying on the Cross for us. 2 Cor. 8:9 says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he become poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9).
As believers, we have to adjust ourselves to God. We need to adjust our lifestyle accordingly in the ways that pleases the Lord, because He is the Lord, He wants to be your Lord. His purpose for you will always be the best although we may not understand it at that moment.
What are the things you have to adjust to respond to God? How can God use me at home? In the workplace? In the society? How can I use my intellect and gifts to be a blessing to the people around me?
God is a living God. His directions, and plans for us is different from season to season. Think of a plant and its stages of growth: sprout, seedling, vegetative, budding, flowering and ripening. Different amount of water is needed, different amount of fertilizer is used and even different pots, depending on the size of the plant.
Just like us too. As we go through different seasons and different stages in life, we will have different needs. Our needs as a young adult are different from when we were children. It will also be different in our golden years.
Make each day count. Don’t waste our time away. Make every day count for the glory of God. Spend time to seek the vision God has for you.
Our lives here on earth are like a vapour—we don’t know how long we will be on earth. Let us catch the vision God has for us. Remember, you are special. You were wonderfully and fearfully made. Make every day count. May God be glorified in our daily lives.