THE ABIDING LIFE
Vision: Being part of the bigger story
By Gwen Sellers
I've never really gotten the push to be part of a bigger story. Of course there is more going on here than my life, but how is that supposed to make me feel significant? Now, I think I get it.
I recently attended the Global Leadership Summit put on by the Willow Creek Association. The idea is to equip and energize Christian leaders across all industries for the advancement of God's Kingdom. In the U.S., it's a two-day event simulcast to multiple sites featuring a faculty of influential leaders. This was my second year of attending, and God had much for me to learn. Part of that was about vision.
As is perhaps common, my young-adult years have been colored by the concept of vision. It's been a touchy topic for me — at times energizing and hopeful, but most other times painful and defeating. I was surprised to look back at my blogs and realize I've already written about this topic. I even have half a draft of a blog from last year's Summit about vision. Needless to say, it's been a bit of a theme for me. So I apologize if this sounds repetitive; just another layer of the onion I guess.
The touchiness part of the topic has been thinking that I don't have a vision. I haven't seen myself as a passionate person. I haven't been sold on the one big idea meant to define my life. I see other people who appear to know just what they want to do and seem to have a clear calling. They have a mission to complete, and they're doing it. I know many of my natural skills and my God-given gifts. I see how they are helpful and needed. But I've discounted them because they are easily adapted and don't further any specific, tangible goal. Sure, I help people and add something to the mix, but would it really matter if I wasn't there? Perhaps I'm just a person meant to float on the coat-tails of someone else's vision? Then I hear I'm part of a "bigger story." Yup, got that. No story is going on here. I'm a pretty easy-to-replace component of something larger. But that's not the point at all!
I think my real problem has been that the "bigger story" or "grander vision," as it was termed at the Summit, wasn't big enough. Obviously the true grander vision is God's Kingdom. And obviously that's as big as you can get. But I didn't realize it.
I ran across a blog by Drew Dyck titled, "Millennials Need a Bigger God, Not a Hipper Pastor." It got me thinking about my concept of God. Though I often don't identify with the characteristics of Millennials, I am beginning to understand the commitment to a cause component. I have always been a person who cares deeply about meaning. I want my life to matter. I want what I talk about and what I do to have meaning. In counseling, I am drawn toward the existential approach in that it is concerned with meaning and purpose. I need to have a reason to live and to work. And that reason needs to be more than just making people feel good for a moment. But I've been relying on "vision" — either an individual one I've hoped to eventually discover or someone else selling me on their vision that I can participate in — to do that. Those visions are entirely too small. The deep meaning I seek is not going to be found in myself or in another human being or even in the dreams/visions of a group of people. But it can be found in God. That's what the bigger story concept is getting at.
Do you realize what God's story is actually all about? Do you realize how big and grand His vision really is? Do you realize who God is? Do I?
Bill Hybels said at the Summit, "God made you on purpose and for a purpose." I am not an easy-to-replace cog. I am more like a puzzle piece. Sure, I may feel like one of those pieces that you have to put together by shape because the color is all the same. I may even be a shape that looks pretty similar to other pieces. But I'll still only fit correctly in one spot. My shape and color combination is unique. I am a needed piece. The general idea of the puzzle image might come across just fine without me. But every puzzler knows that even one or two missing pieces leaves a feeling of incompletion and imperfection. God desires completion. I am a needed and desired part of His plan. He designed me. And He has invited me in to the biggest vision there is. I am not merely meant to ride on the coat-tails of human vision. I am invited to participate in God's grander vision. It is because the story is so big that the meaning is so deep.
The cool thing about being part of God's "puzzle" is that it isn't a static image. It is, indeed, a story. I get to play different roles and experience different seasons. And each is significant. God is not willy-nilly weaving things together. There are no throw-away characters or mechanistic plot devices. He isn't surprised at the way the story looks; He knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). But we get to experience the dynamic and unfolding aspects of His story. We get to know Him more deeply and come to appreciate Him more fully as He changes us and others. We get to marvel at who He is and what He does. We get to interact with Him. We get to interact with each other. We get to participate as God makes all things new (Revelation 21:5). Does that make your heart beat a little faster?
God has the grandest of all visions, larger than I can comprehend (Ephesians 3:20-21; Isaiah 55:8-9). Thrilling and invigorating, with the deepest of meaning. So, yes, I am part of a bigger story. And, yes, that actually does make me feel significant. Significant in the most interesting of ways. There is a sense of being deeply honored that God would trust me to carry out part of His plan. There is a sense of belonging and being written into the story because I am wanted. There is a sobering sense of responsibility that I have a job to do and it matters. There is a sense of urgency and excitement; something big is afoot, and I need to jump in with both feet. There is a sense of anticipation, an eagerness to watch God's plans come to fruition. There is a sense of awe at the God we serve. I am overwhelmed by the enormity of His vision. I am enthralled and softened by the depths of His love. Why would He consider me to take part in any of what He does? Why would He create me, save me, and then go so far as to include me in His family with all the significance of a daughter? I am reminded of David's utterance after hearing God's covenant: "Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?" (2 Samuel 7:18). Our God is amazing. He invites me in because it truly delights His heart. Oh, that I might delight His!
Image Credit: KatieThebeau; BLASTS!; Creative Commons
Tags: Christian-Life | Ministry-Church | Personal-Life
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Published on 8-26-2014