Is it okay to say that?
I know it sounds weird and maybe some of you are like me and you came from a background where people might have abused that word and now it has become something that causes skepticism. Or maybe you came from a background where the word ‘vision’ in the metaphysical sense was never really used and so when you hear it, I might as well have said, “I had my palm read” or “I cleansed my aura.”
So, what do I mean by a ‘vision’?
For me, it’s really not as mystical as it sounds. I believe that God speaks to us in many ways. One way is through the bible, another is through other believers that make up the body of Christ, another is through circumstance or providence, impressions, inspiration, dreams and visions. Taken all together, and used to check and balance each other, I believe it’s just simply the ‘normal’ Christian experience.
For example, God has spoken to me a few times through dreams. More often than not, theses dreams are ‘corrective’ in nature and usually warn me that I need to either change my attitude, actions or heart about a certain things. There have also been dreams that helped direct me in my life, and some that have been really encouraging. But I could also say all those things about a bible verse and how it has spoken to my life. I also could have said the same about a particular sermon or a good Christian friend. I try not to value one way over the other too highly, (though, I do give preference to scripture because that’s what I judge everything else by) because as Apostle Paul said, “ There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.” 1 Cor 12:4-5
Basically, it’s all Holy Spirit to me. Can I get it wrong sometimes? Sure. Just like I can misinterpret a scripture, or have a person give a bad teaching of the bible. But let’s make the assumption that one is trying really hard to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit and is open to correction, okay with getting it wrong and learning from the experience. What I can’t afford to assume is that if at one time I misinterpreted a scripture then I should give up on reading the Bible altogether or if someone misled me and gave bad advice then I should no longer let people speak into my life.
So, what’s a vision? For me, it’s like having a dream, but I’m awake. I see a moving picture in my mind of something and it’s so sudden and out of the blue that I actually think to myself, “Where did that come from? Why did I just think that?”
At this point, I can dismiss it altogether and go about my business, or I can stop for a second and pursue it a little farther. For a really long time, I used to dismiss those weird out of the blue thoughts and go back to whatever I was doing, and soon, after a while they went away completely and I stopped having them.
But as I’ve been really pursuing prayer this year and have been in the habit of asking God to help me hear his voice in my life, they started coming back. And so now, when I get these strange word pictures I ask, “Lord? Is that you?” And more often than not I discover that these word pictures are like personal parables the Lord is giving me to help me understand biblical truth.
How am I doing so far? I hope this is all making sense!
So, the latest vision I received was corrective in nature and the reason I’m sharing it is because I believe there are some of you reading this that are having dreams and visions (Acts 2:16-18) and are hearing from the Lord through ways other than sermons, hymns and bible verses and I want to encourage you, that if pursued with humility, it can be extremely fruitful in your life as you realize just how intimately the Lord knows and loves you and desires to speak into your life.
So, here’s what I saw.
I was in Manhattan and I was falling from one of the Twin Towers during 9/11. I was terrified – a cold dreadful terror like we all felt on that day. As I was falling, I attempted to grab for anything that would stop my fall, window ledges, cables, balcony railings until finally I landed safely on a balcony.
At first I thought I was safe, but then I noticed that this balcony had no windows or doors but was just cement all around. Across from me were other blank skyscrapers and I was very high up – so high I couldn’t see the ground. I noticed how lifeless this place was, there were no people and no one could reach me, especially the balcony I was on. Though it offered me a temporary relief from falling, it was lifeless, cold, and terribly lonely. It very quickly began to feel like a prison.
Then the vision ended.
So, what did all that mean? Context is key.
Before I had this vision I had heard a teaching from a guy named Todd White. Check him out on youtube, but be warned, Todd White is not easy listening. Everything he says basically challenges me or offends me – but in a good way. After listening to his testimony, and hearing him talk about living a fully surrendered and sold out life in Christ, I was conflicted and scared. It wasn’t that I didn’t understand what he was saying, it was that I did. I knew exactly what he was talking about and I didn’t want to do it.
I had also been haunted by a recent conversation with a friend where I jokingly replied, ‘Well, we can’t be all Jesus all the time, can we?’ But then right after I said it, a thought came to me that made me shudder: And yet, when the Lord was on earth that’s how he lived for you.
It’s one thing to go on a mission trip and be on ‘active duty’ as a Christian for a week or two, or to say ‘well, if I was a pastor then it would make sense to be all-Jesus-all-the-time’ but that’s not what Jesus said, he said, “ Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”
I felt like I was in the cross-hairs and I had nowhere to run.
So, in that context what I got from the vision is this word from the Lord to me:
Look Rachel, you’re scared. I get it. Obeying me by walking in faith always feels like leaping from a great height and not being able to see the bottom. I don’t offer you security from ever being scared, or feeling pain nor do I promise to protect your dignity. You can choose not to ever feel this kind of fear, or suffer for my sake, but you will be stuck in a place that offers you no life, no comfort or way of escape. This false sense of security will become your prison, and it will end up being worse than any fear of suffering you imagined from following me. There is only one way down and as scary as it is, you will be with me and in the process of letting go, you will discover the life that I paid the price to save. This life is so worth it. I promise you. Follow me.
Two things I hope you take away from this: talking with God and having him talk to you is the normal Christian life and I hope you are encouraged to explore it. In this adventure you get as much of Jesus as you want.
And second, being stuck on a balcony to nowhere sucks.