I have been reading “An Unhurried Leader” by Alan Fadling. It’s a great book, but leaders with type “A” personalities should stay away from it if they don’t want to feel convicted! Among other things, Fadling reminded me of an essential fact that I find myself forgetting more often than I want to admit: a vision OF God precedes a vision FROM God. Too often I get the cart before the horse.
You are probably familiar with that passage in Isaiah chapter 6 where Isaiah saw the Lord. Don’t skip over those words, “In the year that King Uzziah died.” Uzziah had been a good king and, under his leadership, God had blessed the southern kingdom of Judah. Life had been good in Judah during the 52-year reign of Uzziah. So when King Uzziah died, it was a big deal. The nation had depended on his leadership. What were they going to do now? Time for someone to step up to the plate and provide some leadership and vision, right? Not so fast. Look at the passage.
Isaiah 6:1-8 (NIV)
1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.
3 And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
5 ”Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Isaiah definitely needed a vision FROM God, but first he needed a vision OF God. What’s interesting is that when he saw God clearly, it helped him to see himself clearly. When Isaiah came face to face with the holiness of God, it made him painfully aware of his own unholiness and helplessness. When he confessed his need, God touched him and cleansed him. Then, and only then, was Isaiah ready to receive a vision FROM God. Now Isaiah was ready to answer, “Here am I. Send me!”
I have discovered that I need an occasional day alone with God (once a month is about right) to get my vision OF God back into focus. I spend the day decompressing, talking with God and listening to God. The result is that, at the end of the day, I not only have a clearer vision of what he wants me to do, I have new energy and passion with which to do it.
Keep the order straight. A vision OF God precedes a vision FROM God.