I was walking to my office Saturday evening to finish my preparations for “Vision Day” and feeling a little anxious. I usually spend some time in devotions before working on the message, so I said a quick prayer as I walked: “Lord, give me something rich that will draw me close to you and inspire me for the task ahead.”
Ensconced behind my desk, I opened to Ezekiel 6, the next chapter in the book I’m currently working my way through, and looked for something inspirational. Ezekiel 6 is about God’s promise to destroy Israel, about how he will cast Israel’s slain before the idols they’ve erected, and about how just a few will be left alive when God’s fury upon them is spent.
“Lord?” I asked. “Is this what I’m supposed to think on as I prepare to cast vision for our church for the coming year?” I tried to imagine how this would go over. “Get ready, church! It is going to be a great year!” Then an insight came to me. The fate of Israel should also be ours, actually. I imagined our entire congregation gathered pleasantly on a Sunday morning, contemplating the coming year. Were it not for Christ, we would stand condemned as Israel stood, worse off than dust.
Actually, we have not obeyed his word. We have not listened to his commands. We have not been the kingdom of priests he’s called us to be. And yet, because of Christ, we are not destroyed and God’s victory still marches on. Perhaps more remarkably, it marches on through us, year after year.
It dawned on me anew that I’m not godly enough even truly to comprehend my own sin. And this means I’m not godly enough to comprehend the depth of God’s grace either. The grace which permits me to stand before the assembled congregation and speak about vision. The grace which allows us to assemble in the first place as the people of God. The grace that always outruns my sin, no matter how far I’ve gone. This grace is more massive in scope than I begin to realize.
It’s as if we’ve seen only the merest point of the figurehead on the bow of the ship that is God’s grace. The rest of the figurehead and the massive vessel remains hidden to us in the fog. We have no concept of its immensity. But merely the point of the figurehead alone suggests such magnificence that we are staggered by the hopefulness of its promise. We really have no idea what awaits us as the fog of this world burns away and God reveals the full extent of His grace revealed to us. No idea!
As I prepared to talk about vision, this devotional insight appeared to me as real vision. We do not begin to comprehend the miracle of Christ that towers over us. And the knowledge of the smallness of our understanding is the right-sized perspective out of which all other vision is properly derived.
Yes, we hope to do great things in the coming year. But the greatest thing has already been done. And we do not launch out in forgetfulness of that fact. With humility and awe, we set to work.