So it’s all good and well to catch a vision but a vision without practice doesn’t go anywhere or lead to anything. So how does one go after a vision to be filled with the joy of knowing God? Here are four practical steps from my own life.
- Through our emotional wounds and painful memories.
Research has found that a large percentage of our emotional energy goes into suppressing memories of painful experiences. Yet when Jesus announces the purpose of His ministry in Luke 4 He quotes Isaiah 61 – The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted… To be broken hearted speaks of the emotional wounds and painful memories that we all sustain through life. Jesus came to bear those away, to carry them with Him to the cross and provide healing. Psalm 147:3 says, “He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.” It is actually possible for God to take our painful memories and change them or take all the pain out of them. It is truly possible. I’ve experienced it. Imagine living free from the effort needed to suppress those things! It comes by persistently bringing our wounds to Jesus through prayer. When Jesus heals these it cannot but cause our hearts to explode with love and joy for Him.
- Through our desires.
We all have deep desires for things that haven’t yet come. At the core of each of these desires is actually a desire for God. You have a God-shaped hole in your heart because He has allowed there to be a you-shaped hole in His heart and all of your desires for lesser things stem from this one great desire. Stunning, I know! But when we bring our desires to the Lord through prayer and journey with Jesus in them He takes them, deepens them, matures them, changes them and finally fulfills them (Psalm 37:4). It’s a journey of a lifetime and it’s a journey of longing and trust and intimacy and at last great joy.
- Through the journey of bringing our wounds and desires to God.
Having our wounds healed and having our desires met, having our hearts drawn into the place of delighting in God requires a journey, sometimes a long one. It’s the journey described in Psalm 84:5-8 – Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage. 6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca, They make it a spring; The rain also covers it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength; Each one appears before God in Zion. Do you know why we love stories/movies? Because they mirror our own story. The glory of a mountain top experience is only made glorious by the depth of the valley through which you pass, by the struggle of the journey. Because our emotional wounds are so painful, our longings and desires so deep and the journey often so long, to finally encounter Jesus as the one who knows us and cares about us and heals us and fulfills us causes unspeakable delight and joy.
- Through the identity that Jesus bestows upon us along the journey.
As we journey through the valley of Baca, as it becomes a place of springs, Jesus begins to rewrite our identities. We begin to truly believe that we are His beloved ones, the passion of His heart, the object of His affection, His precious sons and daughters. To know how God feels about us even in our weakness is great joy indeed.
Deuteronomy 32:9 – For the Lord’s portion is His people, Jacob His allotted inheritance.