I was once praying when a burden came upon my heart. As I prayed for the gospel of Jesus and abiding in Him to go out to defeated believers around the world, I could see a woman. I knew she lived in mountains, and continuing in prayer, the burden increased and the name Carpathian Mountains came to mind. It was a simple prayer that this woman, and others who lived in the region would come to hear and know the freedom of Christ’s presence. I hid the vision in my heart, and went and looked up the map. Deep within, I had the sense that I would go to the Carpathians in Ukraine some day. So, it was no surprise that I found myself months later not only in Ukraine ministering, but also being told by my interpreter “I have organized a seminar in a village in the Carpathians”. The vision was still in my heart; but I was not now thinking about it. After the meeting, a woman asked me to help her. As I sat there with this very depressed and despondent believer, the Lord whispered, “This is her”. From deep within me came “amen! Praise you Jesus”.
I have always believed that if one of God’s children cry out to Him for answers, God will send a messenger to them; whether it be to an obscure village of Ukraine; to the desolate regions of Siberia; or to a chaotic city of Africa. That one messenger sent for the one person. I believe that, for God sent the one person to me in a city of New Zealand.
I am not holding myself up as one who has visions that are fulfilled in miraculous ways by my great faith, making those who have not feel inferior, or that they are lacking something. Rather, I want to share with you that I have visions, words and burdens that have not been fulfilled. I have had a burden for a place or a person; I have had plans come to mind, desires, answers I thought were from the Lord. Deadlines have passed for some so that now it seems they cannot happen as I had anticipated. People have told me God told them which person they would marry; when they would; that they would even remarry their divorced spouse; of seeing a vision for ministry; of an open door; of going to a particular Bible College; of being invited to teach in a particular place; or of certain events occurring in their loved ones lives.
What are we to do when we believe such has come to us? Often we first rejoice for we believe it is God speaking. But then I believe we have a choice. We can hide it in our heart by faith; or we can store it in our mind. If we hold it only in our mind, then our thoughts and imaginations can lead to fantasizing and even obsessions. As time goes on doubts and unbelief take us into the flesh. Some work to make the vision happen; they manipulate, engineer circumstances, pray and fast. Others give up in disillusionment; feeling they can never trust God again. I believe that it would be unwise for us to believe that all desires, visions and words are from God. God’s voice is easily discerned, we do not have to fear and be confused. But we do not abide perfectly; we can pray in the flesh. We have ideas running through our minds all the time. The vision may be from God; but can we admit in humility that it could also come from our own imagination. That is why we are told to bring every imagination captive to Christ. All that is of God is to be received by faith. I have learnt that what is of God can wait. The heart of faith can receive the vision and wait. Mary, at the proclamation of the shepherds at Christ’s birth,” kept all these things and pondered them in her heart”. We also need to say “Father, I hide this in my heart. I trust you to accomplish this in your time in your way. I rest in You”.
If we try to make it happen, and become anxious about it, then we know we have moved out of faith in Christ. God’s Spirit does not work under compulsion. He does not drive. He leads. If we have lost our rest; then we need to go back to where we lost it, and renew it again by abiding in His Peace. Our faith is not to be fixed on the promises, but on the One who promises. Remember also the reversal before the fulfillment. Faith stands in the reversals. During that season, it is the time to release our grip on the vision. It is a time for us to die to ourselves. It is a time of allowing the seed to be buried, knowing that if God raises it up again, it will have resurrected life and power. Only that which survives the Cross is of Him.
Often we go beyond God’s will. The vision may have been given; but we add to it; we enhance it, try to fill in details, and guess about what God has not revealed. That is unbelief. Having hidden it in your heart, wait and watch to see how He works it out. Trust Christ as your Shepherd to lead you every moment in His Way, and the Way it is accomplished will come naturally. Oswald Chambers said, “We cannot attain the vision, we must live in the accomplishment of it until it accomplishes itself”. There have been times when my own mind and emotions have mislead me; when I have wrongly interpreted what I thought God had said. That is I believe having the treasure of Christ in a weak, imperfect vessel. I do not beat myself, or God up over it. I know of people who are wasting years of their lives hanging on to what they believed was a vision; yet the evidence is clear that they were wrong. They refuse to move forward. The vision has become an idol.
All that God does in our lives is to get us to walk in Christ, and to know Him. So whether the vision comes to fruition, or if it seems to have been a mirage, matters not. For it, like all things can keep us in dependence on God. The vision leads us to make Jesus and His will our desire, to keep Him as our focus. I may not wholly believe, and I may not wholly disbelieve. I may pray, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief”. But I do desire to wholly have faith and trust in the One who will not deceive and Who is leading me.
With this heart attitude, the vision will always have accomplished His perfect will in our lives.
And all those who heard marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Linda Guy, Abiding Life Ministries Intl.,32 Anaheim Blvd.,Howick, Auckland, New Zealand. [email protected]