L. Dwight Turner
A fundamental component of living a life of spiritual optimism is the birth, development, clarification, and realization of your personal vision. Solomon tells us in Proverbs that without vision, the people perish. The same principle is true for all of us. We may not physically die without having a personal vision to guide and direct our steps, but we will surely die spiritually. Without the motivating presence of our own vibrant, vitalizing, vision we surely cannot manifest the optimal version of ourselves.
A vision consists of our perception of our particular mission in life and more precisely, defines the specific framework within which we will carry out that mission. Vision gives us a sense of direction, acting like a compass when we lack certainty about our direction in life. In this sense, vision gives us a basis upon which we can make positive and effective choices among various options that might be available to us. A personal vision gives us hope and courage, especially when we are feeling overwhelmed or when we are confronted with difficulties or setbacks.
The concept of personal vision is intimately tied to at least four other significant factors in the life of a sincere spiritual aspirant: God, dreams, purpose, and optimism. Although space does not allow for a detailed discussion of these four critical connections, let’s take a brief look at how personal vision is tied to them.
It is imperative to understand that your personal vision is a Spirit-designed and Spirit-imparted phenomenon. Through my work with individuals and groups over the past 35 years I have come to the conclusion that the Holy Spirit imparts a specific, achievable, personal vision to each of us prior to our birth on this planet. Further, God not only gives us this vision, but also supplies us with all the talents and gifts we need in order to bring that vision to life and completion. We may have to work at honing and sharpening those Spirit-given talents but we should always keep in mind that those gifts come from a divine origin.
Our dreams are also connected to our vision. I am not talking about the kind of dreams we have when we sleep. Instead, I am talking about those dreams that we entertain as we imagine what we would like to do and what goals we would like to accomplish. The dreams I am speaking of here have to do with our imaginings of becoming the best that we can be and even more significant, making a positive contribution to the world. These dreams, like our personal vision, come from God. I am convinced that our dreams are one method the spiritual realm uses to communicate to us about our personal vision. We, therefore, should never discount our dreams, no matter how far-fetched they may initially seem.
In fact, there are many times that the most impossible dreams have their origins in the mind of God. Think about it. I believe Divine Intelligence desires that we always remain cognizant of the fact that we are ultimately dependent upon him for everything. With this truth in mind, it is very reasonable to assume that the Holy Spirit may indeed give us dreams that are impossible to fulfill without a vital connection to the Divine Source. Perhaps I evaluate a dream and feel inspired, but say to myself, “That’s something I could really get into and it meets a very real need. Still, there is no way I can ever do that by myself.” God, in response, may very well be saying, “No, you can’t. But we can.” The Bible clearly tells us that with God, all things are possible.
I suggest that over the next week or so you set aside some time to examine your dreams, both current and from the past that, for whatever reason, you did not allow to grow and develop. Study these dreams and ask for guidance in gaining insight into how these specific dreams may now be or may have been connected to your personal vision. Do you see any common themes in these dreams? If these dreams somehow were to become manifest in reality, what specific and beneficial purpose would they serve? This exercise may help you in your search to discover the exact nature of your personal vision.
How do I discover my vision? There is no one way to do this, but one thing is true: Start by discovering your personal purpose. Your vision should then flow out of that purpose. Discovery of our purpose (mission) is intimately tied up with our personal vision. One thing I have discovered over the years about uncovering purpose and vision is this: You have to be creative and think outside the box. At first, don’t discount any idea just because it seems impossible. Often, God gives us impossible things to do so that we can discover that we need him to do anything of lasting worth.
Art Sepulveda, Senior Pastor of the Word of Life Christian Center in Honolulu has written an excellent book entitled, Focus: What’s in Your Vision. In this book Pastor Sepulveda gives the following guidelines for envisioning your future:
Expand your horizons by stretching your imagination
Nurture new ideas
Vote for positive changes with a welcoming attitude
Imagine the impossible
Stay ahead of tomorrow
Invent the future
Notice unlimited opportunity
The pastor’s suggestions are first-rate and I would encourage anyone interested in kick-starting the process of discovering their personal vision to implement his ideas. I think you will discover that developing vision is not nearly as difficult as you have imagined it to be. The reason for this is that you are not so much trying to invent something that doesn’t exist; instead, you are actually uncovering the outline of something placed in your heart by God before you took your first breath.
Finally, let’s see how your dreams, purpose, and vision connect with optimism. It is a connected as part of a process that begins with potential and ends with the glory of assisting in the realization of God’s kingdom on earth. Let’s take a look at a synopsis of this process – a process that can only lead to Christian optimism.
God has placed a unique potential within each and every one of us. The realization of that potential is part of our personal mission on this planet and exists within the context of God’s overall plan and purpose for humanity. When we marry our potential to our individual purpose, our potential is activated and we begin to move toward becoming all that we were designed to be. When our purpose is connected to a specific personal vision, our potential is further unfolded in the context of our purpose and vision. Further, this marriage of purpose and vision gives rise to passion. We become excited about bringing our vision into concrete manifestation. We arise each day with a feeling of optimistic energy and divine direction and we are enthusiastic about working toward realization of our personal vision.
As the process reaches fruition, we then realize our vision, our purpose, and our potential. In doing so, we manifest our glory. Our glory can be defined as becoming the best version of ourselves and claiming our already established identity “in Christ.” By manifesting our glory, we are able to fulfill our God-given role in the establishment of his Kingdom. The entire process is thus carried forward in the Kingdom Context. God planted his divine plan in us in the form of our unique potential. That potential, along with our subsequent purpose, personal vision, passion, and glory, had an overriding purpose and that purpose was the unfolding of God’s kingdom here on earth.
On a practical level, the kingdom context consists of the recognition that the primary reason Christ incarnated was to inaugurate the process of establishing his kingdom on earth. Our spiritual unfolding involves nothing less than having all of our actions flowing from the living awareness of our responsibility of carrying on the Lord’s kingdom mission.
The power that carries this entire process forward, from potential to glory, is faith. We accepted God’s blessing of cleansing and salvation, our justification, on faith. Now we are to go a step farther along the road of faith: we are to accept that God has given us even more grace in that he has provided, as Paul says, “every blessing in the spiritual realm.” Or, in the words of Peter:
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in world by lust (2 Peter 1:2-5).
In the words we often use here at LifeBrook: God has provided for us all that we need in order to become the optimal versions of ourselves for the glory of God and the benefit of others.
In essence, what we are talking about here is the blessed reality that God, through his grace, love, and infinite wisdom, has seen to it that we have all that we will ever need to be successful in life. He has planted a divine potential in each and every one of us and tied that potential with a personal purpose or mission that we are to carry out. The specifics of that purpose or mission are found in our dreams and our vision, which is also God-given and easily discoverable.
It is upon these very principles, based upon the spiritual reality of God’s love, his character, his provision, and his faithfulness, that we can readily lay claim to spiritual optimism. Indeed, If God be for us, who can be against us?
(c) L.D. Turner 2009/ All Rights Reserved