Dreaming about the future of your church and ministry? Wondering what God might do through you and your congregation or team?
Whatever He has for you, you can be sure that every God-inspired vision has six distinct characteristics. All of them can be clearly seen when God commissioned Joshua to lead His people into the Promised Land …
1. It’s bigger than you think.
God told Joshua He was giving them “all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them” (Joshua 1:6). It’s been estimated that the total territory for the Hebrews was upward of 15 million acres! It would be hard for anyone, including Joshua, to fathom that much land mass.
On an even grander scale, Joshua most likely had no idea he was a type of Christ, symbolizing through his own obedience and actions how Jesus would later save His people from their sins. God is always working through our lives to do things that are much larger than we can comprehend or see at the moment!
2. It’s harder than you can do.
Joshua had been given a God-sized assignment. Leading over a million Israelites across the Jordan to possess a new land certainly isn’t for the faint of heart! Like Joshua, following God’s plan means we’ll be in over our heads. We can roll the stone, but only He can raise the dead. In other words, we should do what He tells us to do, and then watch and anticipate what only He can do!
3. It’s better than they can imagine.
Joshua knew something about the Promised Land. He’d spied it out when he was a young man. So, he knew what Moses meant when he said it was a “land flowing with milk and honey” (Deuteronomy 26:9). Joshua had seen the Promised Land—the Hebrews had not.
The story is told that during the dedication ceremony of Disney World, someone turned to Mrs. Walt Disney and said, “Isn’t it a shame that Walt didn’t live to see this?” Mrs. Disney replied, “He did see it, that’s why it’s here.” Often God will give one man or one woman a vision of what can be—a glimpse into the future that others around them simply can’t imagine for themselves (and as visionary leaders we shouldn’t expect them too).
4. It’s more restrictive than you might like.
Visionaries usually don’t appreciate boundaries. We enjoy thinking “outside the box” and being free from limitations. Yet, God gave Joshua some clear boundaries. Although the area they were being given was huge, it was nonetheless limited. God said, “Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west” (Joshua 1:4).
This flies in the face of the “name it and claim it” mentality, as though we can have anything or go anywhere we want. It is only “if the Lord wills” (James 4:15). We love that God said to Joshua in verse 3, “I will give you every place where you set your foot”; however, a far-reaching promise like this is almost always followed by a verse 4, where the Lord begins to show us boundary lines that He has put in place for our vision.
5. It’s impossible without faith.
Faith can move mountains. Faith can sooth our fears and calm the storms (Matthew 8:26). Without faith it’s impossible to please God, for we must believe that He is God (Hebrews 11:6). Joshua led the people of Israel by faith; they watched the Walls of Jericho fall because of their faith (Hebrews 11:30).
Great visions and God-sized plans require great faith. But it’s not faith that we try to conjure up in our minds. It’s not pseudo-faith with no basis to stand on. Real faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17), and God told Joshua over and over that He would be with them, that they would be successful if they carefully obeyed Him. If you know your vision is from the Lord, then go forward in bold faith.