Do You Have a Job, or a Vision?
“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts; as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).
Do You Have A Job or Do You Have A Vision?
Greetings once again to all of you who are daily being encouraged and continuing your study of the awesome word of God. I hope that all things are going well with you. It is a great honor to, once again, search the deep things of God and see what He has for us today. Daily, take time to meditate on what He has given to us. Enjoy His word during your lunch or during break time in your hard working day. See each day as a miracle allowing you to see the moving of God in your life. To Him be all the glory forever and forevermore.
As we are faithful to His calling, so we should be faithful with what we do daily. Whether you are staying at home or a working parent, an empty nester, a college student, a working individual, a widow, a retiree, a volunteer- do all those things honorably and with a heart of thanksgiving. I thank you for what you do. Let’s look at what we are going to talk about today and build on it.
I want to talk today about applying wisdom and walking in purpose. You see, when I studied art in college, one of the fundamental concepts I learned is always to see the end first and then work my way back. To put it in other words, a good artist sees the finished product in his or her mind before beginning to paint or sculpt or draw.
I believe that is the meaning of getting the big picture: to see the end from the beginning; keeping the end clearly in view throughout the creative process. Continual observing must take place until it is done. Only the artist can ensure that the finished product conforms to his or her original vision or design.
Often times, the casual observer or someone who has seen only a specific phase of the process cannot make any sense out of the artwork. It is because he or she lacks the “big picture” that is in the mind of the artist. A few brush strokes on a canvas may mean nothing to someone watching the painter, but a very good artist knows exactly what those brush strokes mean. The artist knows where he is going and has a plan on how to get there. In his mind, he has seen the end result. It is only when the product is complete, that his full vision and intent can be seen.
It is the same with all of us, whether we are painting a picture, carving a sculpture, building a house, or raising a family. It is critical to keep the big picture, the finished product, clearly in view. If we don’t, our original dream or vision will never be fully realized. Instead, we will end up with something quite different from what was intended.
The biggest problem in our world today, including the religious world, is that we are preoccupied with phases. We cannot see the big picture. We are so narrowing of our focus to our own little part, and with fighting and arguing with everybody else about their little part, that we lose sight of purpose.
Have you been there? Of course you have. I have learned that wasting time over a small piece of donut, will not make things better. We waste time arguing over things that do not matter. There are bigger potatoes to peel rather than trying to solve the mystery of the little grapes. We need to lighten up, and not end up with only glimpses or snapshots of the big picture.
You see, somewhere along the way, humanity lost the big picture of purpose. Instead, we operate within tiny snapshots of life made of disconnected and futile pursuits. Those snapshots provide only a narrow and very misleading impression of the whole purpose of living. We lost what happens at the end of our existence.
Let me tell you that purpose defines the big picture. The big picture reveals the original purpose or intent and the desired end result of the artist builder. As the artist and builder, what was God’s purpose when He created humanity? What was the end result He desired? These are critical issues for us to understand, because without purpose in God, human life has no meaning or significance. The philosophers of our day are saying that human life has no purpose or significance, so each of us must create or derive meaning for our lives where we can find it.
This is a very sad process. Why? Because we have lost the big picture of God’s original intent for mankind. Without it, our lives are nothing more than disjointed phases that make no sense.
Here is an illustration showing you the difference between having a job and having a clear guiding purpose in God. Let’s look at the life of Nehemiah.
Nehemiah had a job as the cupbearer to Artaxerxes, the king of Persia (Nehemiah 1:11). This seems to have been an important position that may have included both serving wine to the king as well as to his royal guests. It also included tasting the king’s wine beforehand to make sure it wasn’t poisoned. For Nehemiah, the position of cupbearer was a top position in the king’s court. He was a highly regarded, trusted, and influential advisor to the king.
As prestigious as Nehemiah’s occupation was, it was simply a job for him because his mind was occupied with something else. Nehemiah was a descendant of one of the large number of Jews who had been carried into captivity by the Babylonians. The Babylonians were subsequently defeated by the Persians, and that is why Nehemiah was serving a Persian king.
In the time of the Babylonian captivity, the city of Jerusalem had undergone terrible destruction. And yet when the Babylonians were defeated seventy years later, fifty thousand Jews returned to Judea and rebuilt the temple.
The effort to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem was thwarted by opposition from neighboring peoples who had convinced King Artaxerxes to issue a decree to stop the work. In the first chapter of the book of Nehemiah, Nehemiah heard that “the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire” (v.3).
Some believe that the destruction referred to in this verse pertains to the original devastation of Jerusalem. Others think it is a reference to the opposition to rebuilding the wall. Either way, the news filled Nehemiah with grief. When he heard that the wall of Jerusalem was broken down and that everything was in disarray, he “sat down and wept. For some days [he] mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4). Did you know that your true work is what you were born to do? When I was reading this part of the chapter, I like to think of Nehemiah’s cupbearer job as his preliminary occupation, or his “preoccupation,” because he was born to fulfill another, much more important role.
As I said before, your true work is what you were born to do. Your current job situation is what you do only until you are ready to fulfill your vision. I know that God had placed in Nehemiah’s heart a vision of rebuilding the wall: “I had not [yet] told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem” (Nehemiah 2:12).
Nehemiah 2 reads, “In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before.” What we see here is the implication that Nehemiah was doing fine on his job until he heard about the wall. Then he had an idea to rebuild it. He even went to God in prayer about it, and God told him to go back and reconstruct it. This was the compelling vision of Nehemiah’s life. It was his desire to fulfill purpose and accomplish his life’s work. But the desire to fulfill purpose, began to interfere with his job. Nehemiah was employed by the king as a cupbearer. Yet his yearning to fulfill purpose and rebuild the wall began to wear on him, and he became depressed.
The king said to him, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart” (verse 2). You see my friends, when God gives you a vision and confirms it, nothing can stop it. And if He tells you to build, start, invest, create, or manufacture something, then it will bother you deep inside. You will become depressed until you get up and start doing it.
I call Nehemiah’s emotional state a “sanctified” depression. It is the kind that says, “I won’t be satisfied until I complete my vision.” I have seen this emotional state happen over and over in some of the older servants of God in churches. I can speak of this sister named Arleen in our church. There have been years of labor in God’s work. My passion is to watch the story unfold of those who have dedicated their lives to God’s work. They work more and harder and get paid less than they deserve. They have a story to tell.
Let me ask you this question. Is your true work, your purpose, making it uncomfortable for you to stay in your present job? This is what happened in Nehemiah’s situation. He was continually troubled until he was able to take action on his vision. I know that people who know what they are called to do are possessed to accomplish what God has given them.
In Nehemiah’s mind, the wall was completed before he started to work on it. That vision drove his passion. When the king saw Nehemiah’s sadness, he asked him one of the most significant questions anyone can ask a person: “What is it you want?” (Nehemiah 2:4). What is equally significant is that Nehemiah was able to specifically answer the king. He said, “Let [the king] send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it” (v.5). Nehemiah knew his clear guiding vision, and his plan was so specific that he was able to give the king a time frame for completing it. This is where Nehemiah applied wisdom to the situation.
In closing today, you need to ask yourself the same question: “What is it that I want?” Have you ever asked yourself, “Do I really know what I want out of life?” You see, some people just want to indulge in self-serving activities. Others think life begins at retirement, and they miss out on their purpose practically their entire lives. Some people just want things. Some just want a house. Yet, once they get their house, then what else? Some want to buy a nicer car. That is fine. And then what? They want to have children. And then once they have children, then what?
My friends, there has to be something more to life than the things we accumulate. In Luke 12:15, Jesus said, “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Your true vision is not a house or a car or even children (sometimes we treat our children as possessions). Your vision should be something that lives on after you are gone. A vision from God has greater lasting power than possessions. Have a great week. Until next time!!!
My prayer for you: Father, we have talked about the importance of life’s journey. You have a purpose for each of us to live out on this earth. There has to be more than possessions. Thank You for reminding us, that our purpose and vision for living is more than just drifting through life. Holy Spirit, work Your power in the hearts of the people today. Let them see what life is all about through Your eyes. There is a better vision than just owning a house or a car. I now know today that I have a gift of relationship with You through Christ Jesus. We are so grateful that everything You ask of us is for our benefit and good. Thank You for reminding us and bringing us back on course. You have a wonderful plan for our lives. We can live and rest in You. We don’t even have to worry or be downcast when we face the challenges of life. Thank You always that we can have faith, knowing that You are the One in control. Thank You for the gift of peace. Today, help us to focus on You rather than on our problems. We will not let worry rule our life. Today, we choose to live with peace by trusting in You. Thank You for those who You have put in our path; those who have labored without complaint for the place we worship. We ask that You continually bless them and give them the strength for the vision you have shown them to do. May the young ones and those that are coming see it and learn from their wisdom. Bless Your people today. Thank You for forgiving us and giving us the grace to forgive others. Bless our Pastors George and Angel. Let Your hedge of protection surround them. Bless our church and may we continue experiencing the move of heaven on earth in our place of worship. Thank You for Your mighty healing power. In Jesus’ wonderful name, Amen!
Thought: What is it you want?
Living Large to Dream