“And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are – northward, southward, eastward, and westward; 15 for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. 16 And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered. 17 Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.” Genesis 13:14-17
When there was conflict between Abraham’s herdsmen and Lot’s, and there was a need for separation, Abraham chose the high road of peace. He gave Lot (who was his younger nephew) the first option of choosing where he would go. Lot, driven by greed, chose the seemingly fertile area, thus leaving Abraham in the lurch. It was in this situation that God came to Abraham and made him a promise: “And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are – northward, southward, eastward, and westward; 15 for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever.” (Genesis 13:14-15). God was telling Abraham to look at the territories He was giving him. Then God asked Abraham to take a prophetic action by walking through the land of promise. This was an act of faith.
God was teaching Abraham about seeing from within. He was not to focus on people or external circumstances but rather on God’s promise. God was teaching him the principle of vision. Anyone who wants to change his future must learn to focus on the bigger picture.
Abraham didn’t seem to have grasped the vision principle at this time. God therefore had to take him one step further. “Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”6 And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” (Genesis 15:5-6). Abraham now believed God. Something must have happened in Abraham to make him change his perspective. There are times you’re talking to someone and the person doesn’t seem to understand what you’re saying. Then, suddenly, he says, “Now, I see what you’re saying.” I believe that as Abraham was gazing at those twinkling Middle Eastern stars, suddenly, in his ‘mind’s eyes’ they became like the blinking eyes of people. He could now relate to what God had been saying to him. The promise was as good as real to him. Abraham then believed God.
God communicates in pictures which we receive as dream or vision. Vision is the invisible picture within a person that defines his future. It is the mental image of the future that a person has. It’s like the architect who first sees the building in his mind before the physical structure is built. We are not talking about mere wishful thinking or armchair daydreaming that some people indulge in but “seeing by faith.” One of the most remarkable things that can happen in a person’s life is to receive a vision from God of what his future life can be.
God is always trying to get His vision into us, but the enemy also tries to do the same thing. The devil likes to paint a picture of gloom and doom in people’s minds, picture of no hope, no change, or even death. There are people carrying a portrait of the future that was wrongly painted and it is limiting their progress in life. Some of these may have been received from so-called prophets or diviners. The story is told of a young man who went to inquire about his future from a Sharman. After consulting his crystal ball the Sharman came back with a message for the young man: “I see a future filled with suffering, pain and misery, until you’re forty.” Crestfallen, the young man asked him, “What then happens after I am forty?” The Sharman replied, “Oh, by then you’ll get used to it!” Just imagine a person having this portrait of the future – what such a life will turn out to be? Unfortunately, many people’s vision have been painted by such hacks.
It is our responsibility to get God’s vision for our lives. For “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” (Proverbs 29:18). Joseph was a young man when he received the vision of his future in successive dreams (Genesis 37:1-11). Envy, betrayal and imprisonment couldn’t stop his dream from coming to pass. His vision eventually became a reality. Job said this about God, “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2 NIV). We receive God’s vision for our lives as we study His word. The Bible is the ‘land of God’s promises,’ walk through it and get a picture of your desired future. We also receive God’s vision for our lives in the place of prayer. The Holy Spirit shows us things to come (John 16:13 AMP; 1 Corinthians 2:10).
WHAT DO YOU SEE?
Your vision will define your future. Helen Keller said, “The greatest tragedy in life is people who have sight but no vision.” God asked Jeremiah, “What do you see?” (Jeremiah 1:11-12). Your dominant vision will determine your eventual outcome. All some people have is picture of gloom and doom. No wonder their life is filled with what they see. Jacob found that the flock produced according to what was placed before them (Genesis 30:37-39). They produced what they saw. This was the principle that Dr David Yonggi Cho discovered and it changed his life, leading to his founding the largest church in the world in South Korea. We need to be pregnant with positive pictures of our future.
Jesus said, “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” (John 4:35). What do you see? Do you see your family saved and serving the Lord? Do you see your ministry exploding on every side? Do you see your church filled every Sunday with those wanting to know the Lord? Do you see yourself doing better than survive, notwithstanding the forecasts about the economy?
INTERNAL FRAME OF REFERENCE
How we interpret what we see depends on our internal frame of reference.
The story is told of two shoe salesmen who were sent to a third world country to see if there was a market for their product. The first salesman reported back, “There is no prospect here, no-one wears shoes.” But the second salesman reported back, “There is a huge business opportunity, no-one wears shoes.” They saw the same situation but interpreted them differently. Moses sent twelve spies to Canaan (Numbers 13:26-33; 14:1-9). They all saw the same people but while ten spies saw giants before whom they were like ‘grasshoppers,’ Joshua and Caleb saw themselves differently. To them, the giants were like ‘bread’ meant to be ‘consumed’. The problem was that the ten spies measured the giants against themselves while Joshua and Caleb measured the giants against their God. They had adequate conception of God’s majesty.
GOD CAN DO MORE THAN YOU THINK
God has given the human mind an incredible capacity to imagine. Sadly, history has shown how mankind has employed this imagination wrongly but it is nevertheless powerful. From the Tower of Babel God had said, “…and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” (Genesis 11:6 KJV). Again, Paul said “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20 NIV). The implication of these scriptures is that our highest aspiration is not beyond God’s power to accomplish. Let’s not limit God in our minds as Israel did (Psalm 78:41).
What do you think of God or as a popular Igbo song says, What is the size of your God? Dr Oral Roberts was said to have had this motto for his university staff: “Make no small plans here.” That was a man who knew the capabilities of His God. No wonder he went ahead to accomplish great things throughout his life. Often, we do not have because we do not ask (James 4:2). There’s nothing we can ask that will deplete the resources of heaven. Ponder what God said to David: “I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more!” (2 Samuel 12:8). God was saying to David, “if you felt that what I gave you wasn’t enough, I could have given you more.” There is no need to be envious of what God has given to other people because whatever He has done for others He can do for you. It is unfortunate that many Christians are yet to come to terms with God’s munificence (2 Corinthians 9:8). When Jesus fed five thousand people in the wilderness they still had twelve baskets full of leftovers; the same was true of the feeding of the four thousand.
SUBJECT TO CHANGE
Some Christians have made their problem their life’s song and testimony! It’s all that ever comes out of their mouth. They have no vision whatsoever of a better tomorrow. “We live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV). Whatever can be seen is temporary. “While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18). Someone did a study on the Greek word translated “temporary” and found that another meaning of it is “subject to change.” So, whatever we can see now is subject to change. Whatever is your situation now is subject to change. If it can be seen with the human eyes then it is subject to change. That includes the negative medical report; your marital status; the condition at work; and even the present economic recession – they are all subject to change. If you wonder how that will happen, don’t forget that “By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen” (Hebrews 11:3 NLT).
God asked Abraham to look from the place where he was standing. Where are you standing right now? Is it in sickness, lack, joblessness, barrenness, etc? Look from there and see what God is about to bring your way. Lift it beyond you, beyond your background, circumstances, environment – lift it high and look at what God has said in His word about your life. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to stand before God one day and realise that I could have been more and could have done more in this life!