Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
I have to sing songs like this because I forget them to be true. I have to remind myself and call myself to something bigger and greater than what only I see.
I’m thankful this has happened lately.
I feel like I’ve had a rough few months emotionally. I’m not wanting to blog dump on you so you feel sorry for me, so I’ll just try to let you in on it a little bit. Mostly I see my sin and sinfulness so much. I mishandle so many situations. I say so many stupid things. I’m defensive and then defensive about that. I hurt others by what I do and then also by what I don’t do. So I avoid the wrong things and wrong times and I move into things in the opposite ways.
I also have hard conversations with people. We cry on the phone about moms and dads, about cancer, about jail, about kids, about sex, about finances, about churches.
I get jealous of other people and what they have that I don’t have. I don’t like spending time with other pastors because I cannot stop comparing myself every single second and it’s so tiring and so exhausting and I wish I wouldn’t do it. So I avoid them and hate myself for that.
I work on things and people don’t like what I did. I don’t work on something very hard or very much and people love it. I didn’t tag people right on my Facebook post, so I ended up hurting feelings, which isn’t what I wanted.
This is all familiar territory. You know the drill. You have the same things. I’m not unique in this at all.
Jesus is not my vision. He’s not the Lord of my heart. Everything else is all to me. He’s not my best thought or really any thought very often throughout the day. This is to my shame.
This week I took most of two days out to attend the 2015 Place Conference. I did this because I wanted to support my friends John, Kari, Jefferson, Wayland, Josh, Blair, Justin and my incredible wife Julie also spoke. I did this also because it was convenient. This national conference took place a few blocks from my house. I’m so much a cynic. I didn’t expect much. If I’m honest (and I’m trying to be) I thought I’d be bored and roll my eyes.
Instead, I felt inspired again. I felt Vision.
I stood in a room with Dr. John Perkins and he inspired me. I looked around and realized that over the past year I’ve become friends at least to some degree with a dozen or so black men in Oklahoma City.
I sat in the crowd and listened to Dr. Carey Casey preach the gospel, tell stories of faith and inspire me to love Jesus. I sat and listened to Annie Downs talk about how she’s mentoring Vanderbilt baseball players and God is using her in so many unexpected ways. She gave me vision that God can and does use me. I sat and listened to Sister Rosemary talk about standing up to Joseph Kony in Uganda because she loves girls and wants them safe, happy, loved and thriving. I listened to Wayland Cubit talk about how love won over his hate and Willy’s hate, and now he’s a son instead of what could have been. He shared his vision. I heard a woman sing His Eyes Are On The Sparrow and might heart felt full of Jesus’ love for even me. John spoke about the heroic path men take to leave the village, go under the water, go out into the wilderness and then back to help others. Rosanna shared about when she didn’t get a gold medal, she still was someone. She still was valuable and now she’s figuring out what to do next, even by doing a lot of things that don’t work. She challenged me and us to build a lot of pots, even if some pots aren’t good ones. Just make a bunch of them and see what happens. That helped me.
And I heard Bob Goff. If you haven’t read his book Love Does, you really should. He was a vision for me to love big and love well and love just a lot. When you do that, you’ll get hurt and misunderstood and that’s a part of the deal. It’s okay. Keep at it. I’ll have to forgive a lot, but I can do that. I can give up trying to be right or understood every second. I can let other people win. I can believe the best in them. I can own up to my faults. I can stop comparing myself and just be whatever God wants me to be. Those are empty riches and empty praises. They aren’t my inheritance. Not now or ever. I can laugh instead of take myself so seriously all the time. I can celebrate what God is doing in other people, other broken people just like me. I can cry when we’re not there yet.
I can see and remember, confess and sing out loudly that Christ is the vision, all the time, everywhere, day and night. There is naught else. I can stop being fake. Fake is super tempting, but bankrupt in value. I can cry. I think crying helps my vision clear up. It feels like blurring, but it’s actually clearing. He can be everything to me now and also in the future when I get all he’s promised me. He can be first in my heart. That would certainly be victory. He’d have my heart.
So I can enter into messy relationships, conversations, projects, people – all of it because he loves me and will care for me. He forgives me like in Matthew 9. He sets me free. He makes me see. That is a gift. I needed that gift and need it more. I need to walk with others who remind me of the Vision.
High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.