Facing a new year can elicit a variety of responses. Some feel a sense of excitement and renewal in looking forward to the coming year. Others feel like life is spinning out of control, wondering where the year went. Some feel lost without a clear purpose in life — something to be or do that makes sense of everything. Regardless of how you feel about the New Year, you can be assured that God has a plan for you in it.
God has a unique vision and purpose for each of His children. God wants to bring glory to Himself through our lives. Understanding God’s vision, however, is different from casting our own vision. When we make plans, we want everything laid out. Think about the last time you traveled. When you mapped out the trip, you wanted to know where it started, where it ended, where you would stop along the way, and exactly how long it would take. Many of us approach our life plans in the same way — we try to plan out all the details in advance; we want to know all the answers before we begin the journey. The same is not true for God. When God reveals His vision for our lives, He does so step by step.
In John 16, there is an interesting exchange between Jesus and the disciples just before His betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion. Jesus is telling the disciples what to expect when He goes away, and says, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear” (John 16:12). God reveals His vision to us when He knows we are ready and able to hear it. So how can we prepare ourselves to receive God’s vision when He reveals it to us?
First, to understand and embrace God’s vision, we must ask Him for it. The Bible tells us we have not because we ask not — and sometimes when we do ask; we seek with selfish motives, not God-honoring motives. But God promises us, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). God wishes to reveal Himself to us, but we must first ask with pure motives and persistence. The word for “call” in this verse means to do so continuously. We are commanded to not ask once, but to continue asking until God reveals His vision to us. Why should we persist? Persistence teaches us to rely on God while He is shaping our hearts to delight in the things of God. God does a wonderful work in us when we seek His will. When we delight in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart.
Second, God gives His vision to those who are good stewards. God is looking for stewards who will manage His plans well, even in the face of opposition, frustration, impatience, or even spiritual attack. Because God’s vision does not operate on our agendas or cultural norms, we may encounter criticism by friends and family who question our decisions and motives. As we follow God’s timeline, we may experience anxious moments and frustration while we wait for God’s plan to unfold. Satan will tempt us to bypass God’s timeline and question God’s direction. Yet God entrusts His vision to those He knows will persevere through criticism, seasons of waiting, and spiritual warfare.
Third, God gives His vision to those who are faithful in small things. He will give a greater vision to those who are being faithful in what is already in their charge. The Bible teaches us that God rewards His faithful servants. “You have been faithful with a few things: I will put you in charge of many things” (Matthew 25:21,23). The good news is that it is never too late to start following God’s vision. We are always at the right point in our lives to decide to honor God and to delight in Him. And when we do that, we will experience the broad and joyous vision of God at work in our lives.
Commit to God in this coming year to accept His vision for your life so that you may bring glory to Him. Prepare yourself to receive His vision by asking Him to show you His plan for your life. Seek the Holy Spirit’s help to overcome the criticism, impatience, and spiritual attacks you may encounter as you follow God’s will. And as you wait for greater responsibility in God’s kingdom, continue to be faithful in the smaller tasks you already have.
by Dr. Michael Youssef