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Point of Reference

    by Fred Price

"Where there is no vision, the people perish" Proverbs 29:18
Date Posted: May 4, 2012

Last week’s article dealt with the idea of properly understanding who we are in relation to God and what impact that can and should have on our lives; now let’s look at some Biblical examples to help us realize our own vision.

Abraham was told to leave his family, home, business and friends; going to an unknown land where he would live in tents wandering the wilderness. A purifying, reshaping experience for this founding father of a nation and religion.

Moses escaped Egypt through his own wilderness, finding a family there and living as a shepherd. He experienced the burning bush, and led his people out of Egypt to a wilderness of their own. Meeting God atop Mt. Sinai, he received the Ten Commandments, wandering forty more years with the now forming nation of Israel. A purging time in the solitude of the desert, in the trials of seeking and finding God; a time of rethinking ideas, re-evaluating ideals, recognizing gods and God for what they really were and realizing His expectations of them in return.

Joshua experienced the same route of escape through the desert wastes; the wandering and transforming as well. As a result he succeeded Moses in Godly leadership of this new nation.

Caleb was sent into the land of promise to spy it out, to envision the possibilities and set military goals. In contrast to others he saw not only what was but what could be.

Gideon prayed over his fleece and virtually demanded an answer to his request for guidance. He tested God for proof because success in his mission depended on knowing Him and doing His will; as is true for us.

Elijah prophesied a lack of rain as punishment for disbelief and as a sign of Jehovah’s power. He lived in seclusion in the wilderness where he was fed by a raven and drank from a brook, and indeed, for three years there was no rain. The issue was finally settled on Mt. Carmel with fire from heaven, Baal’s defeat –

victory and rain.

But then curiously came fear and depression. Exhausted both physically and emotionally, Elijah fell victim to an oft-repeated pattern of personal defeat after visible, public victory. But the mode of relief God blessed him with is no less common and worthy of note. He led him to a place of solitude, took care of his physical needs, allowing him to recover emotionally; to regroup, revitalize, re-envision. And then he challenged him to get back to work.

David tended sheep, became a war hero, and then was chased into the countryside by Saul. There he gathered his thoughts and acquired a vision of who he was and what he could become in the Lord. In the process he inspired a following and became a king.

Isaiah was in quiet reflection in the temple. Coming face to face with God, he was challenged with the question, “Who will go for us?” (To deliver a message to the people.) To which he replied, “Here

am I. Send me!”

Ezekiel was in exile, praying on the banks of the Kebar River in Babylon. God appeared to him there, blessing him with wisdom and challenging him to prepare the Israeli people there in exile with him to actively live for God, fortifying them with a vision of himself as the one true God and His expectations of them.

Jeremiah prophesied about and witnessed the destruction of Israel. Throughout his endeavors, the people continued in rebellion and unbelief. As a result, he considered withholding his proclamations altogether, but exclaimed that the word of God, once found, was like a fire in his bones – ready to burst forth from him – having to be released. ‘I can’t not speak it.’, he cried.

Hezekiah was a Godly man who became arrogant, rash and sick. As he lay perilously ill and close to death, he re-evaluated where he had been, where he was and where he wanted to be. As a result, he was granted an extension of life for himself and his country.

Yet this raises more questions. Can a vision be forced on us; will God “make” us understand, or does he merely prod us in the direction we need to go? The real question then is, how will we respond?

Jesus was tempted in the wilderness for forty days and nights; bringing him face to face with temptation. Did he question – ‘Where shall I go, What should I do?’ Did he compare opportunities to be served as opposed to serving? It’s interesting and worth noting that all throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry, he was many times off alone or with his closest followers in prayer. To re-center, to re-focus his will with God’s; to re-envision the mission.

Paul was on the way to Damascus where he was struck by a holy light. He waited, prayed, talked with believers. He then spent three years in Arabia studying, training and preparing for service; more fully gaining a vision and the means to live it.

Peter, prior to his call to minister to the Gentile family of Cornelius, dreamt of unclean animals made clean by God, initiating his ministry to the lost among the Gentiles as a result of his own new vision of man.

The twelve Apostles were often alone with Jesus, usually out in the desert. Secluded, quiet, peaceful, without distraction – to talk, listen and question; acquiring a vision and being equipped to share it. There they relived victories and defeats, set and re-set goals and discussed strategy, while praying for guidance, understanding and power.

So where do you go, how will you seek your vision? Is it in a “wilderness”, or can your bedroom, car, church or backyard do? Our challenge to live for God may be intensified by attending school away from home, in a new town or state, finding a new church and friends, struggling with new ideas, new temptations and new opportunities qualifying as our wilderness wandering. Discovering a new vision of ourselves as independent people can be difficult as we re-set goals and experience success and failure, forcing us to re-evaluate our abilities and expectations of life. The important thing to remember being – wherever you are, whatever you do – go to God expecting his presence, knowing he wants to help and bless.

All the Biblical examples of Godly men listed above expressed not only a desire to be shown the way but a willingness then to follow it at all costs. That’s vision! “...I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us ’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” Isaiah 6:8

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Biography Information:

Fred Price - married (48 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.

Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker.  He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today.  Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.  

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