sharper focus ‘Without vision the people perish’
By Erin Wikle, Soldier
A small group of us met for prayer, praise and discipleship training, a daily practice for our corps—yes, corps.
For those who have followed my family’s journey as Western Territory transplanted soldiers in the South, the expression of the Army in Lebanon, Tenn., recently received corps status. Hallelujah!
After a period of worship and prayer, we were reminded: Where there is no vision, the people perish (Prov. 29:18 KJV) and were encouraged to ask God, then and there, for a fresh vision. Easy enough.
“…Fresh vision, Lord!”
Immediately an iconic picture came to mind: a vision in black and white of a small group of U.S. soldiers struggling to hoist a flag upright into rough terrain.
Are you with me? The Battle of Iwo Jima. This was the well-known World War II scene where U.S. military troops raised the American flag in victory over the Japanese Empire.
As I asked the Lord what this meant, I realized the picture was actually different than I’d first perceived. Instead of a military group, I saw Salvationists, all in full uniform. Together, they labored in sweat and agony to raise the banner of The Salvation Army. The soil was rugged; in fact, it wasn’t soil at all, but hard concrete that had appeared to have once been a foundation now broken to pieces. As the flag was raised and began to unfurl, the cross of Christ could be seen shining through it, as though covering, but not masking, the recognizable Army banner.
I quickly put my pen to paper and began to write what I saw. In this, God began to speak and clarify this picture. It was a beautiful moment.
You see, before the vision came, submission took place. Sure, it was momentary, but it was still submission–a surrendering of self with a simple desire, “to be assured of what I could not see!” I prayed these exact words: “Father, show me your faithfulness and give me a vision for our family’s future. I pray for a clear vision from you; I don’t want to be distracted by my own thoughts, desires or ideas.”
The Lord gave me a clear picture, one of iconic and historical semblance, one I wouldn’t forget. He assured me of a future in continued partnership, “laboring in sweat and agony” with the Army. A future where other Salvationists equally committed to the cause would toil by my side to raise the banner of God’s great Army where faulty foundations once lay. A future where as before Christ would cover (approve) the great work of the red, yellow and blue. A future in service and dedication, of sacrifice and long-suffering.
What a vision! What a promise! What an encouragement! I’ll take it!
We should be encouraged when the Lord speaks, provides vision, and moves us to a place of action. This God of ours is not a watchman. He has not crafted and set us into motion to simply stand back and see what happens. No, he’s an interactive and always engaging God, intrigued and in love with his creation.
This is why we cannot seek satisfaction from last year’s, last month’s, last week’s vision—not when he holds something new for us today. Scripture says, otherwise, we will perish. Let’s be a people who are always seeking fresh vision from the Lord, be it for our division, corps, self or loved one who doesn’t know Jesus.
So, I dare you, ask: “Lord, give me a vision!” And when he does, pray and tell your corps officer or divisional commander. Be confident and assured that God is still doing a new work and desires that we, faithful soldiers, take part in it.
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see (Heb. 11:1 NLT).