Many times our concept for "vision" and "callings" have been shaped by stories of people deemed to be successful in some extraordinary way that excludes most of us. As a result, the topic of "vision" is implicitly discouraging or condemning to Christians who believe God is willing and able to do remarkable things, but feel themselves bound to very earthly and sensible duties.
This contradiction in our hearts can be crushing. As Diane has said, how can Christians, people who live by faith, not have a vision?
After-all, by God's design, we are creatures of consciousness in need of approval from the Lord. We find our meaning, indeed our life in One who is greater then ourselves. Such a posture orientated outwardly towards the Lord is the source of vision in even the mundane. Of course there are desert and valley seasons, but vision continues to persist in these seasons. Like a tree in winter it may appear dead for a while, but it remains there untill the spring returns, still growing and eventually producing fruit.
Still, what exactly is vision? And once we catch a glimpse of it...will it condemn us? Consider this question while looking at Amy Carmichael's life. Amy Carmichael was a woman willing to overcome any obstacle to be a missionary in late 19th century India. While there she became known as a woman who would travel long distances alone on foot just to save a single child. It is said she loved the Indian people so much she even dyed her light Irish skin using dark coffee! Were these activities and accomplishments her vision? Perhaps, but I think it was something much more inward.
One day in 1931, while visiting a new orphange contruction site she fell into a hole left uncovered by the workers. The resulting injury would take this energetic determined woman away from her mission, and leave her convalescing in bed for the rest of her life.
Soon after the fall a friend came to console her. Her friend suggested that perhaps the fall was God's way of slowing Amy down and giving her a chance to rest. The comment was designed to encourage, but Amy wrote that it deeply discouraged her. It implied that her vision was less meaningful to God then "taking it easy".
Yet it was during this season of profound discouragement that she came face to face with the source of her vision. She was no longer able to walk long distances to save a single child, but though her prayers she walked with the Lord, and through her pen, she traveled around the world. Her devotionals and poems rendered a portrait of the Lord with such a tender closeness and compelling reality that they continue today to awaken and impart vision in others. Through long seasons of lonliness and isolation, she gazed at the Lord, and told us about what she saw.
This is vision, and it infuses the circumstance that is before us with fire and purpose. Vision is not the work itself, but the inward conviction which transcends our outward circumstance. It not only gives courage to risk the highest of expectations, but also gives meaning and even glory for the most drudging of tasks. Indeed, regardless of circumstance, vocation, personality, and ability, vision from the Lord brings expectations. "...whatever you do, do for the glory of God."