As is the case with just about any type of publication in January, the prevailing theme is some kind of plan to set goals, hit reset, and start over, usually through the use of what is commonly referred to as New Year’s resolutions. The first 2016 edition of Athens Now was no exception. We were full of recommendations for our city, our bodies, our brains, and our dogs.
And while at first blush the title of this article might not seem exactly cheery, if you’ll stick with me, you might find that this Publisher’s Point is a resolution in reverse, and if properly applied, will be useful in January, or any other time of year.
In the Old Testament, there are a number of warnings about perishing, and two of them to me are quite rich. Hosea, whose life as a man married to a harlot is a mind boggling reminder of our infidelity as humans, (as well as God’s faithfulness), said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
Great. What do we do? How do we gain the kind of knowledge that keeps us from being destroyed, either as individuals, families, or a nation? Well, first of all, repentance is always good. Making things right with God and man will quickly get you in a position to be able to receive the kind of wisdom that comes from above, and to then implement the second step.
The other bit of wisdom, which is more precious than gold or rubies, is to have a vision. “Where there is no vision, the people perish,” and that begs the question, does the converse have the opposite effect? Does having a vision prevent the people from perishing?
Well, in my view, yes and no. We could very well now be alive in a time when we will see many perish, at least physically. Our nation’s leaders are acting like Neville Chamberlain of old, trying to appease “Hitler” by thinking that somehow a nation that has sworn to destroy both us and Israel has magically become our friend. “Death to America! Death to Israel!” shows up on Facebook more than one might think, and the leaders of Iran must be laughing all the way to the bank, or the centrifuge.
We are in a political season when presidential candidates are acting like petulant, insolent children, and our nation is badly divided over issues that used to be regarded by all as being the very essence of Constitutional common sense.
Vision, you say? Yes! Have a vision that is not in any way controlled by the actions of others. Anyone who has ever done anything worthwhile, whether public or private, did it with a vision. They had to “see” what they wanted to have change, whether it was internally or externally first. Martin Luther King had his iconic dream. Corrie Ten Boom lived through a death camp and travelled the globe restoring people through unfettered forgiveness. Viktor Frankl had a vision for helping people find fulfillment in life as a result of his having lived through Dachau. George Bailey, the hero of It’s A Wonderful Life had a vision for the people of Bedford Falls to be able to afford their own home. While the story is fictional, the moral isn’t. Mayor Ronnie has a vision for a park where an abandoned plant stands. Frank Travis and Charlotte Fulton had a vision to tell the amazing story of Trinity School, and that vision will soon be coming to pass.
The other half of the vision/perish equation is the happiness that comes from obeying God’s laws. Now, obviously, there is only One who has ever done that perfectly, but having a heart to seek God’s kingdom as well as His righteousness results in happiness. It’s the other half of the promise, and it is the secret to the prevention of perishing. People have literally sung in the flames because they had a vision that was far beyond this realm, and they knew that the “Kingdom within,” though invisible, would never be destroyed. May your resolution this year result in having a vision that burns so brightly that it warms the many, and that no darkness can extinguish.