Thomas Edison was already famous by the time he hit thirty, for inventions such as the phonograph, incandescent light bulb, and one of the earliest motion picture cameras. What motivated him to try one experiment after another until what he envisioned in his mind became a reality?
Somewhere deep within, he had confidence that he would eventually hit the right combination of elements. It obviously worked, because in his eighty four years, he patented 1,093 inventions (some collaborated efforts). That’s visionary faith at work.
Antonio Gaudi, the architect of the La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain, had a vision of a grand cathedral depicting scenes from the Bible both inside and out. Though he died before it was finished, the work he began in 1882 still continues, because others have caught the vision.
I’ve recently been inspired by two visionaries in the Bible, one in Luke, one in Daniel. Have you ever thought about how much faith it took for the criminal on the cross next to Jesus to believe in Him (Luke 23:39-43)? Like Jesus, he suffered the agony of being beaten and whipped. Nailed through his hands and feet. Slowly suffocating to death.
His nakedness was exposed to the elements and onlookers—the curious, jubilant, horrified, and grief stricken. He heard the same sounds—jeers, weeping, curses, the noises of the Roman officers doing their grisly work. And breathed in the same stench of death, urine, blood, and sweat.
Yet, when the other criminal, in a last act of hatred and defiance, hurled insults at Jesus challenging Him to get them out of their mess, this man showed visionary faith. He turned and said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (v. 42). Not, “I’ll follow you if you save my life,” or “I’ll believe in you if you leap down from your cross and wipe out the Romans” or even, “I’ll be your disciple if you really have a kingdom somewhere.” He said WHEN you come into your kingdom. And his faith was rewarded that very day.
Then if you jump back to the Old Testament you’ll find three visionaries in the line of fire—literally. These young men, probably 19-20 years old, had been ripped from their homeland by the king of Babylon and forced into service at the palace. But he expected too much when he set up a giant idol and insisted they worship it. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said “No.” (Daniel 3)
They respectfully declined.
“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Dan. 3:17-18, italics mine).
They had faith to see that even though they served a foreign king in a foreign land where idol worship was the norm, God was still in charge. He had the power to rescue them. But here’s where their visionary faith comes in—they knew sometimes God chooses not to rescue His people from suffering, because He has a greater purpose in mind (i.e. the saving of thousands, so others will come to know Him etc.). Therefore, they resolved to stand firm and leave the decision up to Him.
How many of us today feel like we’re nailed to a cross of our own making? No matter what, we can’t escape the consequences.
How many of us are being asked/forced/commanded to bow to things that contradict our beliefs?
In both of these cases, God rescued the visionaries—the criminal to be with Him in Paradise, immediately following his death; His three children He joined in the fire and brought them safely out. They didn’t even smell of smoke!
Visionary faith has as many faces as there are followers of Jesus, and a variety of endings. But for all who have the eyes to see, and the tenacity to keep at it day after day, the rewards are out of this world.
#faithintheunseen #trustingGod #standingfirm #daretobeadaniel #walkingthroughfire #testsoffaith