Live your life with a vision

Published 9:50 pm Friday, September 16, 2016

By Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr.

Donald Whitney, in his excellent book, “Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life,” gives the illustration of a 6-year-old boy named Kevin, who is forced by his mother to take music lessons.

They are sheer drudgery to little Kevin. He hates his lessons and would much prefer to be outside playing ball with his buddies.

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But one afternoon Kevin is visited by an angel. The angel transports the boy to Carnegie Hall, where he witnesses a concert by the greatest classical guitarist in the world.

As the artist’s fingers move with fluidity and grace on the strings, the most beautiful sounds emerge. Kevin is simply entranced by what he is seeing and hearing.

The angel whispers, “Kevin, this could be you in a few years, but you must practice!”

Kevin is now a different boy. His music lessons are transformed. Now he does what his teacher asks and much, much more. Why? Because now he has a vision.

Before, he was asked to practice discipline without direction. Now he has a vision of where he wants to go, and it energizes and empowers him.

This applies to our lives as Christians. If we will get a vision for what God could do in our lives, it would energize and empower us as we seek to grow in him.

Romans 8:29 tells us what that ultimate end is: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” God’s ultimate aim for us is to shape and form us to be like Jesus.

Some have said that we must understand that God’s desire is for our holiness, not our happiness. Yet this is a false distinction. For, as Octavius Winslow once said, “He must be happy who is holy. Sin is the parent of all misery. Holiness is the root of all happiness.”

So while our ultimate motivation is not our happiness, but God’s glory, when we put God first and trust and obey him, happiness is the wonderful result.

But, to be more like Christ, we must practice. We must discipline ourselves to be alone with God, praying and allowing him to speak to us through the Scriptures. We must do those things both alone and in fellowship with others in our local church.

We must love others with both our lives and our lips. This includes things like acts of kindness and sharing the good news of Jesus with others.

It also includes giving generously of our financial resources to advance the cause of Christ, trusting God to provide for our needs as we do so. It includes a willingness to also give generously of our time in building up the body of Christ by serving in our local church.

But as we do these things, we must, like Kevin, do them with a grand vision. That vision is not “making God a part of my life,” as if God needed a part in your play.

It means being swept up in the great drama of redemption that God is bringing to pass, and being blown away that he has chosen you to be a part of it.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.