Seeing Nothing or Something

Joel 2:27–32; Acts 10:1–16 (read online ⧉)

Visions. In our current culture, visions are portrayed as “mystical” to the point of being unbelievable. We now have organizational vision statements which, if we’re honest, seem to be about as unbelievable as the visions that we think are part of fantasy and magic. Yes, that’s probably a bit cynical. Vision statements have grown into a business. An organization will often hire consultants whose entire job is to help an organization develop a vision statement. Too often, though, the vision statement is merely a placard that hangs on a wall and is part of an email signature.

Visions are not a small thing. So, this is not something you might necessarily want. Many of the Old Testament prophets were not particularly pleased with their visions. There are those today who claim that they have visions from God…did you just snicker or doubt? You probably did. If you didn’t, you’re one of the rare ones.

Visions haven’t ended. We in the Western Developed nations have just turned them into dreams and targets of psychoanalysis and psychiatry. Our hardened hearts and closed minds are no longer as receptive to God’s moving in our lives.

Those that are of a more mystical bent are often decried or sneered at. There are certain Christian circles that cannot seem to either understand nor be graceful toward those that are mystically-inclined. In places where faith is questionable, and jobs are technical (engineering, programming, general technology, manufacturing) this is especially true.

The good side of that is that we are less susceptible to being deceived (in that area, at least). The bad side is that we cast aside something that God has used (and continues to use elsewhere) to draw people to him, shape them, form them, and especially chide them.

Cornelius and Peter each had visions of the same coming event (in general). The result of both their visions was that the Gentiles (i.e., non-Jews) would receive (quite dramatically) the Holy Spirit, and Peter would begin to understand that when Jesus said the whole world…he meant it.

This is not to say we should expect (or even want) visions. In many respects, what often comes with such visions is far more than many of us can bear. As Paul notes in 1 Corinthians 12–13, no matter how great the gift (or vision), without love it is worthless. Yet, we should not disparage nor deny God’s gifts that are beyond our comprehension.

God, you are infinite; we are finite. To fully comprehend you is beyond us. Help us to not put you in our box of comfort, whether it be of feelings, religion, or science. May we keep our “boxes” open to what you want to do in our lives. Amen.

1) Have you ever had an experience that you would call “mystical”? What about it makes it mystical?

2) If someone, whom you otherwise respected and/or loved, shared with you a vision they had, how would you respond? Would you try to process it with them? How?

3) If you had a vision, who would you tell? What is the first thing you would do? Why?