How Can We Regain Vision?

What does it mean to ‘own the vision’?

Does it mean we do what’s always been done or from time to time does God want to bring something new to us? And does that mean the original vision was wrong or that God is fickle and has changed His mind? Do difficulties mean that God’s stopped blessing us or can they be opportunities to grab our attention and communicate the new direction or vision?

What does it mean to ‘own the vision’?

Does it mean we do what’s always been done or from time to time does God want to bring something new to us? And does that mean the original vision was wrong or that God is fickle and has changed His mind? Do difficulties mean that God’s stopped blessing us or can they be opportunities to grab our attention and communicate the new direction or vision?

Here at Northampton Jesus Centre it’s our 10th anniversary year and we’ve been re-visiting our vision and aims in the light of financial constraints. Whilst sitting in managers’ meetings talking about ways to increase income and reduce expenditure may not feel particularly spiritual does it mean that we should down tools, lock ourselves in a room and pray fervently instead or can God speak to us in other ways and if so how?

Augustine once said “Pray as though everything depends on God. Work as though everything depends on you”. I like this. I’m naturally an activist and faith that would appear to expect me to sit back and wait for God to do something doesn’t sit comfortably with me. However, running around like a headless chicken can quickly lead to disillusionment. As James says in his letter to the church “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:14-16) but in reverse, works without faith is futile.

So how do we hear God? How do we know when He wants to bring some fresh direction to our vision?

Here are some of my thoughts:

God speaks through circumstances

God will often use circumstances to get our attention. Our financial situation in the church has been a wake-up call that some things need to change. This can either be seen as a negative experience or a positive opportunity.

Last week I met a woman who, up until recently, had been Director of a successful Christian organisation in the town. They had faced a far more serious funding situation than us, quite unexpectedly and yet when I met her six months previously she asked that we pray that either God provide the extra income that they needed or that He guided them to another solution. Six months later she wasn’t testifying to God’s miraculous financial provision but to a new service model, partnership and way forward. It hadn’t been plain sailing; there had been redundancies and personal sacrifices including her moving aside to let someone else lead the new organisation. Her testimony was that through difficult circumstance God had brought them to a new and better situation.

God guides us through our grappling with issues

Just as the strength of the butterfly’s wings come from its struggle to break out of the chrysalis, so we can believe that God strengthens us and trains our character through allowing us to grapple with issues to find a way forward.

We’ve been experiencing this as a management team as we are forced by circumstances to examine our service outcomes, income and expenditure and ask questions about how we balance the books whilst at the same time wanting to hear God speak into the vision. None of this activity feels very spiritual and some of it results in very different ‘obvious’ solutions to the situation.

However, I believe that in all of our efforts to look at things from a variety of perspectives, we will eventually find an agreed way forward with the confidence that God has spoken into and directed our plans. We don’t necessarily need to be in a prayer meeting to hear God.

God speaks through others

Sometimes God doesn’t appear to be saying anything to us directly and then we find ourselves in a different situation with other people and they bring a word of direction to us.

This happened recently when the Jesus Centre hosted a prayer and praise evening; because we were the hosts, part of the evening was given over to praying for the needs we shared. When we got together as managers the next day most of us agreed that this had been a very prophetic and significant event in which we’d heard God speak through others. I had prayed with my Director friend and she said that God was going to do a new thing through these present circumstances. Later in the evening the song that several of us felt was prophetically anointed was “Greater things have yet to come” from Chris Tomlin’s worship song ‘God of this City’. Since then I’ve felt a renewed sense of faith and confidence in the knowledge that God is going to direct our path and lead us into new places.

God speaks through prophetic wisdom and inspiration

Each morning at the Jesus Centre, we meet together as a team before the Centre opens to the public. During our prayer time, I saw two pictures in my mind: one was of a small child clomping clumsily around in oversized shoes, at first enjoying wearing adult shoes but quickly getting frustrated by the lack of speed and eventually falling over. The second was of someone peering over at a huge oversized footprint, the emotion I felt with it was this person was they were feeling ‘overwhelmed’. I sensed that those of us who are facing the prospect of taking on the shoes (metaphorically representing stepping into the responsibility of the pioneering generation) are either feeling frustrated as they begin to practice stepping into the shoes or daunted by the prospect. It can seem that the prints they have made are far too big for us to step into.

Then I had a third picture, which was of someone walking a new path, making new footprints and another set of footprints leading the way. God isn’t asking us to step into the shoes of anyone else. He will work with who we are and lead us in a new direction: all He is asking is that we are obedient and follow Him.

None of this means that the path ahead of us is necessarily going to be any easier but what can seem like overwhelming problems can become opportunities when we see them through the eyes of faith and put our trust in the God who “did not bring us out this far to take us back again” (as Grover Levy’s song says).

If you’ve got to the end of this article and you’re thinking “yes, but…” or “no, because…” write your “yes but” or “no because” in the comments below.

I've lived in intentional Christian community for over 20 years in new plants, frontline missional and welcome houses. With my husband Sid I have a ministry at one of our Jesus Centres in Northampton and was part of the team that developed our Jesus Centre in Sheffield.