By Kate Ritchie
This past summer, my family traveled to Tybee Island, Georgia, to celebrate my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. It was a wonderful time of rest and celebration spent at the beach together. A few mornings, I went for a run on the beach. It was beautiful and quiet, and I found myself using that time to pray and reflect on the last year. Like most people, our family had quite a year navigating changes and turmoil from the pandemic and political season.
We had experienced the extremes of ocean-related weather during our stay. Some days were calm tides and beautiful skies, but we also experienced a tropical storm that had washed in fascinating creatures and many broken shells. I found myself on a quest for the perfect seashell as I ran across the beach battered by the tropical storm the night before. My head and eyes looked down at thousands of scattered, broken pieces of shells covering the beach for one whole piece that I could take home. I imagined what those shells must have looked l before the storm shattered them. As my run furthered, my search began to feel frantic. I couldn’t believe there wasn’t one whole shell that the storm had left untouched to take back to the beach house to my boys. My heart connected my quest for a shell and the year we had just weathered as a family. I found myself praying,
“Oh Lord, this has been a hard and year full of brokenness and pain. We have weathered the storm this year. Where is the good in it? Where is the treasure? Where are you in this?”
At that very moment, I felt impressed to look up. I felt suddenly aware of how strained my neck and eyes felt focused down on my feet. I stopped running and looked up. I was standing on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. I was able to see what had been there all along. The magnificent and immense ocean and sky filled my entire vision. It was the awe-inspiring vision of the beauty and magnitude of not just creation, but my God who is the Creator.
At that moment, God refocused my perspective. The Creator, who controls the storms and keeps the earth orbiting the sun, has a big plan that long outlasts the storms we face and all our perfect weather days. If my perspective remains focused on him, I can face whatever might come my way. But if I continued to live eyes down on the brokenness around me, I would live in the heaviness and disappointment of the circumstances of the storm.
Sometimes we need God to reorient us to see the big picture, the glorious transcendence of our God and his plan to redeem the whole world. We need a reminder that his plan is greater than the storms. Jesus Christ still reigns, and he is working his plan to save all brokenness and make it new.
Sometimes we need to examine our focus. We need vision. I certainly did.
The beginning of a new year can be when people naturally are looking to reflect on the last year and seek a vision for the year to come. I know New Year’s Resolutions can get a bad rap, but I think they can be useful. From time to time, it is essential to evaluate where your decisions are taking you and if that is the direction you want to go. Proverbs 28:18 says,
“Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.”
Vision provides confident, life-giving truth.
This verse rings true. If you lack vision, you lack guidance. A lack of vision can lead you to make reactionary decisions, running about doing too much or too little. You are tossed around by the things that pull at your affections, emotions, and time. On the contrary, vision guides every decision you make with purpose. You are proactive and confident in how to spend your time and resources. When difficult circumstances arise, you know what is true and have direction guided by that truth.
Another way of interpreting “the people cast off restraint” is the “people are discouraged.” Without vision, it is easy to fall into a life that lacks purpose. You miss the “why” behind what you do. You can quickly burn out because life is full of challenging circumstances that steal your attention. A life focused on the glory of Christ is a life that can weather the storms with eyes fixed on the glory and beauty of God. That is why Paul can say in Philippians 4:10-13,
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Vision keeps Christ and his glory as central.
Vision can go wrong in many different ways, but I personally struggle with my vision when my perspective shifts in one of two ways.
- I lose vision when my perspective shifts off of the glory of God and on to a circumstance.
- I lose vision when my perspective shifts from Jesus being the center of my story and on to me being the center of my story.
A vision that infuses your life with meaning centers on Jesus Christ and beholds his glory, beauty, and rule over all of creation. A vision for life on anything else will disappoint and discourage you. Galatians 2:20 says,
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Reflection questions for January 2022:
- What has my life centered on this year (What has consumed my thoughts, decisions, finances, and time)?
- What has my family life focused on this year (What has consumed our collective thoughts, decisions, finances, and time)?
- How might God be reorienting my perspective in this season?
- Am I aware of the magnitude of Christ when compared to my circumstances?
- Is Christ at the center of my story, or am I at the center?
- Is my vision for my family one that centers on Jesus?
- Do my habits and the habits of my family display Jesus as the center of our lives by what we prioritize in our thoughts, decisions, finances, and time?
- What is our family vision for 2022?
If you want to include rhythms of family discipleship in your family’s vision for 2022, consider subscribing to Kid Faith Krate!