One of the most stunning sights that I can remember happened one night while working as a commercial fisherman on my father's fishing boat on the East Coast of England. It was way past midnight, and I was working the boat alone, more than 8 miles from land. I turned on the automatic pilot to steer the boat and switched off all the lights on deck. Then I went out on the deck, laid flat on my back on one of the unused nets, and looked up at the stars. Have you ever been away from civilization with no lights and looked at the stars on a clear night? It is one of the most stunning sights in this world. There wasn't a cloud in the sky that night and no artificial lights to hinder the view. As a young Christian, I sensed the Lord telling me that there was more to my life than spending most of my waking hours working in solitude, miles away from people on my father's fishing boat.
I will never forget that night, and the sight of that night sky will always stick with me. It was a moment when I became convinced that the future held something different for me and that God would teach me a different kind of fishing. Instead of using a net, I would learn to use the Word of God. Instead of catching fish, I would learn to fish for men, a call that Jesus made to His early disciples (Matt 4:19). I felt I had to lean on Christ and put my heart into serving in whatever way I could. In my serving, the Lord would train me day by day.
In Abraham’s training to be the Father of the Faithful, God began to birth in his heart a vision that would sustain him and shape him for the rest of his life.
1After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” 2But Abram said, “Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” 4Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” 5He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:1-6).
The Lord told him to go outside his tent and “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them” (v. 5). God gave Abram a vision or dream that he could hold in his mind, a picture that would enable him to persevere in his faith through many challenges. As we look at the nation of Israel today, we see that God fulfills His Word, not only on a physical level, but God brought forth from Abram's faith a spiritual people—a people of faith in God worldwide.
When he received the vision of what God would do, his name was still Abram, which means exalted father, but God would give him a name change to reflect the vision in his heart from that day. He would be called Abraham—Father of a Multitude. Can I ask you what vision you keep in your heart? Does this vision shape your daily actions? Are you working towards fulfilling it? If you have no insight or vision about your future, God wants to plant one in your heart. Life is not about living for this world but the next. May God give you a vision or picture of how He wants to use you and let it shape your daily life. Keith Thomas
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