Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” (Proverbs 29:18)
I once had dinner with a homeless man at McDonalds. After we got past his begging for money and then small talk, he started to open up about his life. Although he’d been on the streets since he was 14 (now 29), he was trying to figure out how to earn an income. He told me how important it is to have goals: today he was just trying to survive; tomorrow, he hoped he could get a job and afford a nice clean place to live. Though he was at his lowest point in life, he still had a vision.
I’ve also read Arthur Brooks book “The Conservative Heart,” which does an excellent job explaining why it is better to allow people the room to pick themselves up. In his book he tells stories of several homeless people, criminals, and drug abusers who found self-respect by being given a job–even cleaning the streets of New York City. For the first time in their lives they not only made a little money, but they helped people and were creating their own future.
The homeless man and this book remind me of the Bible verse in Proverbs 29:18,
Without vision, men perish.”
Without vision many of the men and women mentioned probably would have perished, either physically, spiritually, or both. This verse in Proverbs coupled with stories like those above show that as humans we just need a vision to keep our lives going and feel satisfied. Sometimes we feel we need the Next Big Thing. The next job where we’ll finally be content. The next hairstyle that everyone will want to copy. The next diet plan. The next career jump. The next move to another city.
But you know what? While these “visions” will bring us temporary happiness they are still temporary. And then–you guessed it–we’re looking for the Next Big Thing again. I don’t know about you, but I want lasting visions. I want results that bring me joy–not just temporary happiness. I want visions that have eternal and heavenly consequences–not just ones that affect today.
Let’s look at Proverbs 29:18 from the Good News translation:
A nation without God’s guidance is a nation without order. Happy are those who keep God’s law!”
No matter what translation you look up, it’s pretty clear that the vision is not supposed to be ours, but God’s. Let’s read the verse that way and make it personal.
[Your name] will PERISH (Yikes!) without God’s guidance and Word. BUT…. if [your name] keeps His law and follows His ways, [your name] will be joyful!
Now that’s a quote to hang on your mirror. But remember – either we die because we’re following our own visions, or we live in joyfulness because we follow God’s.
Go ahead and try to eat healthier, learn to be more confident at work, start your own business, or even sleep more this year–these are good goals, but don’t obsess over them. Instead, let’s ask God to plant His desires in our heart. Let’s also ask ourselves how we can glorify God in our work, relationships, health and even thoughts, instead of how we can “boost” ourselves.
Will you join me? If so, I think you’ll find the other “visions” falling into place without all the straining, stressing and sighing.
But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)