Do we really understand the power of our story? Do we believe His holy scriptures when we read that there is life and death in our words? Through Christ I pray His Hope is offered through our testimonies, their stories… Three beautiful and precious people who are willing to share simply out of their love for Christ. Each desiring to see this world through Kingdom vision. You know, we don’t always have to go through a trial or adversity to have a testimony. Our everyday praises to The King are like flaming darts to the enemy. He can be defeated when we testify to what God is doing in our lives. We ALL have a story…
“And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. . . .” || Revelation 12:11
I am just gonna share what God has been teaching me lately. I may ramble…
Our church has recently completed a 21 day season of prayer and fasting.
Our pastor always encourages us to nail down a few main things, personal things, to really seek God for during this time. So, a few days prior to the beginning of the fast, I took some time to “make my list”! There were 4 areas in my life where I desperately wanted to see God move. One of these areas was “Vision”. This word gets a lot of use at our church and, to be honest, I really didn’t have a good idea of exactly what vision meant. I’ve been chasing this elusive “vision” for my own life for a little over a year and haven’t really gotten any closer to it at all. Frustration was setting in and I was really ready to just put the whole idea of vision on a shelf to come back to later, or not! But I decided to give it one more chance!
Part of the fast for my family included no social media and no tv, so I decided I probably needed a good book to keep me company during these 21 days.
And since the whole purpose of a fast is to become closer to God and to remove the distractions of the world, I figured fiction was out of the question!! Around this time, my stepfather had been reading several of Andy Stanley’s books and he loved them, so I grabbed my Kindle and began my search!
Imagine my amazement when the book titled “Visioneering” popped right up on the screen!!! (Okay, God! I hear you!!) I downloaded it immediately and began reading it on day 2 of my fast.
As I spent my days, praying, worshipping and reading, God began to teach me what vision really means. I had always thought that a vision from the Lord had to be something HUGE, like starting a church or a charity or moving overseas and opening an orphanage! (No wonder I was frustrated!!) But God began to show me that He has given everyone visions, we just don’t know that that’s what they are! I realized that my vision(s) will look different at different times in my life. He showed me that I have a vision for my marriage, that we would always keep God as the center cord in our relationship. He showed me that I have a vision for my immediate family, that as our kids grow up, finish college, get married and have their own children, I want us to always be close and spend quality time together. He showed me that I have a vision for my extended family, that I don’t want time and “busy-ness” to steal the unique closeness that we have always shared. He showed me that I have a vision for the area where I serve at my church, that as I lead others, I want to ALWAYS be Holy Spirit-led myself. He showed me that I have a vision for all of my relationships with my friends, that I want to always BE the type of friend I would want to have.
As the Lord opened my eyes to all of these visions that He had already placed in my heart, He also began to put order to them and showed me how to be intentional as I strive to make my visions into realities. Sometimes, I am tempted to let my soul (my mind, will & emotions) lead my days and I “feel” as though I have no purpose, no plan. Like I’m not making a difference in the world.
What does it matter if I get my laundry under control and keep my house clutter free and clean?
Does it really matter if I write down a few scriptures for my son to meditate on? I mean, he has so many written down already, what difference will a few more from me make? Why should I be the one to plan family events or remind others about someone’s birthday? No one else seems to care, so why should I?
But what I learned is that when you have a clear, God-given vision/purpose/plan, EVERYTHING you do MATTERS! From the most mundane, repetitive chores to the texts you send to friends, to the big family get togethers you plan! I realized that when I’m cleaning my house, I’m actually making our home a clean, comfortable place that my family WANTS to be together in! When I remind folks that Aunt Deb’s birthday is today, I’m preserving the closeness of our extended family and people appreciate the reminder! When I say “no” to great opportunities that would take me away from home before or after school hours, I am investing in my son’s future relationship with his wife and his children and showing him that HE is more important to me than anything else!
Even though in the here and now, I am benefitting from these visions, my own selfish gain is not the driving force behind them. I want my marriage to be strong & healthy so my kids will know what that looks like, and, in turn, their marriages will be strong and their kids and friends will know what that looks like!
I want my family and friends to be comfortable in my home so that they have a place of security to come to and one day they will make their own homes places of refuge for their families and their friends!
I want to lead my team as a servant myself, so that my team leads the ones they serve with a humble, servant heart!
The ripple effect that these seemingly simple visions have are mind-boggling and world-changing!! Even if only one marriage or family is made stronger by my intentionality, that, my friends, is success!!
One of the main things God showed me about having a vision from Him is that, on my own, it WILL be frustrating and will even seem impossible to pull off. But that’s just it- I’ve realized that I’m NOT ON MY OWN! The visions that He gives me come with one main ingredient: HIMSELF!! He has designed these passions and purposes so that I will have to depend on Him for them to come to fruition! On those days when nothing makes sense and it seems I am worlds away from where I should be in regard to my vision, that’s when I hear Him remind me that “His ways are higher than my ways and His thoughts higher than my thoughts!” (Isaiah 55:8-9) When you know your plan is from Him, trust is the key ingredient! Trust that “where ever you are” is playing a part in the fulfillment of your goals! Trust that His timing is perfect! Trust that “…He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus!” (Philippians 1:6) Trust that what God originates, God will orchestrate! (Visioneering, Andy Stanley)
So, I now know that my visions, although not “lofty” by the world’s standards, are just that: MINE!! God created them just for me and, if I will keep my eyes fixed on Him, He will allow me, through His guidance, to accomplish them!
It’s so amazing what God can teach us when we really press in to Him and seek Him earnestly! He WANTS to do so much in and through each of us! I want to encourage you to explore your passions, your concerns, your burdens. These are where visions are birthed!! It’s time for our passions and convictions to line up with our behaviors!! And don’t settle for things they way they are! I am making a choice to strive to see marriages & families & relationships become what they could be and what they should be!!
These are my visions! What are yours?? || Traci Raygan
Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. || Proverbs 29:18
My precious sister by another mother… I love Traci and her heart for Christ! Often, we will never know the impact we have on someone. Most likely unaware, she has carried me many times in her love for Christ. Her kind words and her reminder of HIS word have been a strong support, a leaning post… truly an Aaron in very weak time. Grateful.
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. || Psalms 145:18
Everyone has a testimony! Most of you have many, rather big or small! Today, I’m going to share a little one with you that happened on March 19, 2013- The day our Sophie Marie was born. I will spare you all the beginning details and go straight to the thick of it. After many complications, I was being rushed to the OR to have an emergency c-section, and I do mean emergency. They actually hit the code blue button on my baby, whom I hadn’t even met yet. Doctors and nurses appeared from everywhere within seconds. So, this of course scared me to death! As they where running me down the hallway,I begin to panic. Then, when they flung open the doors, I decided to pray. My prayer was this, “Lord, please give me a sense of peace. Please let me know everything will be ok, no matter what the outcome. Please send your angels down to protect my baby girl, that her daddy and I have prayed over everyday for 9 months. Please, Lord, give me peace.” At that very moment, I felt a burst of cool air. A sense of calmness came over me, and I knew my baby was going to be ok. I could literally feel God in that delivery room with me. He was there holding my hand, because I had faith to call upon Him in my time of need. Prayer works. Sophie was born at 1:47 PM, weighing 7lbs, 14oz. Her heart was beating, but her lungs were not working. She had to immediately be put on a ventilator. They wheeled her tiny body with tubes coming out, over to my head. Her doctor, also a Godly man, leaned over to me and said that he was praying and what would pull her through was prayer. I knew then that she was going to make it. He held my hand and said a prayer for my baby, then quickly rushed her to NICU. Before we went to bed that night, Sophie was off the ventilator and breathing on her on. On March 25, 2013 we walked through our doors at home, as a family of 3!!!! Power of prayer works!!!! When in need call on Him; He will see you through!
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. || Philippians 4:6
Love you all!! Thank you to everyone who was there holding my hand and praying with us during the most difficult days of my life. || Leigh Ann Pearson