Have you seen any of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies? The main character in the story is a pirate by the name of Captain Jack Sparrow. Captain Jack has a special compass. Most people think it is broken because it doesn’t point north. But this compass isn’t designed to point north. It points in the direction of the thing you want the most.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a compass like that? Any time you wanted to check your progress or make sure you were on the right road or find out which way to turn you could just take out the compass and see where you needed to go.
Christians actually have something one better than Jack’s compass. We have a direct connection to “The Man In Charge.” We have a relationship with the God who gives dreams and visions. In fact, the Bible says in Proverbs 3:6 (NLT), Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. The Holy Spirit gives us the desire for the things we need the most, and then (like a compass), shows us the way to go to come into possession of that treasure.
In the second Pirates movie, Jack did not know what he wanted most, so the compass needle just spun in circles. As a result, he just sailed aimlessly in circles going nowhere in particular and not really doing anything constructive.
How many of you feel like that, that you still have no clear picture of what God wants from you? It is no mystery why Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life was so ridiculously successful, and that his 40 Days of Purpose and 40 Days of Community programs have been so widely used in churches across the country. Most Christians do not feel like they know their purpose. The average Christian does not know their gifts. Many Christians feel like they are sitting in the dugout. They know they are on the right team, but they don’t know what their position is.
When is the last time you checked your compass? Unlike Captain Jack’s compass that looks to you to set the direction, the Holy Spirit tells you where God wants to take you. It is very hard to check a compass on the run. You need to stop, be still, and focus your attention on it to get an accurate reading.
God tells us we need to do the same thing. In Jeremiah 6:16, He says (NLT), Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.
God is saying “When you are unsure about where you need to go or what I want you to do: Stop. Ask Me for direction and I will give it to you. Then take that path and you will find rest for your soul.
In order for you to be live out God’s purpose in your life, God gives you a vision. A vision, in the way that I am using it here is a picture of where God wants to take you or what He wants to accomplish in you and through you. This is something that is specific to you. God gave Abraham the vision of being the father of nations, He gave Moses the vision of being a savior and deliverer, He gave Joseph the vision of being a leader, He gave Peter the vision of being the rock upon which He would build His church. If you are a Christian, God has a vision for you.
Why do you need a vision? You need a vision because God is not looking for people to simply believe in Him. He is looking for people to live for Him. Oswald Chambers in his devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, writes,
There is a difference between holding on to a principle and having a vision. A principle does not come from moral inspiration, but a vision does. People who are totally consumed with idealistic principles rarely do anything…But wherever there is vision, there is also a life of honesty and integrity, because the vision gives me the moral incentive.
God wants you to have a vision. Without a vision you are not going to change, or grow, or sacrifice. You need to have a vision for something that moves you to be willing to get up, give up, and take up.
You need a vision to Get up. A vision gives you motivation to move on from where you are. If you don’t see any reason to change you won’t bother. A vision gives you the desire to be, do, or have something you don’t have.
You need a vision to Give up. A vision gives you the trust to give up things that God needs you to let go of, or have Him remove certain things from your life so He can make His vision for you a reality. Abraham had to be willing to give up his son, Moses had to give up his place as a prince of Egypt, Joseph had to be sold into slavery, and Peter had to give up his confidence in his own strength. When we go with God in the direction of His vision for us, He is going to take us through some very dark and painful places. These are the times when we wonder aloud what God is doing and why He is allowing things to go the way they are in our lives. God often uses the image of a potter working clay as an illustration of how God works to shape and mold us into the person we need to be to come into the possession of Hs vision for us. It is here that we are tempted to give up. But it is only through persevering in faith and trusting that God is doing only what is necessary to make us the person He can trust with the vision He gave us.
You need a vision to Take up. We need a vision from God in order to attempt things that we would never think of doing on our own. A vision drives you to trust God and look to Him for direction, provision, strength, and perseverance because living out the vision is going to require that we take up new habits, new thinking, new responsibilities, and new priorities. God gave Moses the vision of being the deliverer for Israel. When Moses doubted that the people would believe him God asked him to drop his staff. When it hit the ground it turned into a snake. Moses did what any sane man would do, he jumped back in fear! Then God told him to pick it up by the tail. That is not how you pick up a snake. But Moses did what God said, and the snake became his staff again. Vision gives you the courage to take up things that you would never do on your own.
We need to ask God, “What do You want me to do? What is your vision for me?” But in order to do that you are going to need to stop what you are doing and focus on God and listen to what He is saying to you.
When is the last time you checked your compass? How have you changed? How have you grown? What has God been doing with you? Have you stopped at the crossroads you are at and looked around? Have you asked for God to show you His vision for you? Have you asked where His path is for you and have you walked in it? God’s desire is not only that you know Him but that you are living for Him.
God has given me a vision to help rebuild and cultivate an atmosphere of grace and forgiveness in the church. In order to follow that vision, I need to take regular time to stop in order to get an accurate reading on my spiritual compass so that I can discern the things God wants me doing. If I don’t, I will get caught up doing other things that really don’t help me achieve what God wants me doing. It means taking time with God and letting Him speak to me, letting Him be my compass.
You have a compass. Your compass is the Holy Spirit. Have you looked at your compass lately? Or do just carry it around in your pocket? A compass isn’t useful unless you take it out and use it. God has a vision for you. And He is waiting for you to take it up. You haven’t lived until you have started pursuing the vision God has for you. Take out your compass and get on the journey.