1 "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.
2 See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you.
20 Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.
21 Then will all your people be righteous and they will possess the land forever. They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor.
22 The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation. I am the LORD; in its time I will do this swiftly."
In this chapter the authors paint a vivid and wonderful vision of what God is going to do. I believe we can personalize these promises – that God will shine upon us, that God will illuminate our lives; that God will prosper us and give us peace and guide us toward doing what is right.
Yet, sometimes we here words like this and then we look at our selves, our own life and circumstances, and we wonder, “When God – when are these wonderful things going to come to pass? He answers us in the last sentence, doesn’t He? God tells us “In its time”. That’s when these things will come about – in its time. And then He says He will do it swiftly, but in its time.
It reminds me, in kind of a negative way, about the man in The Sun Also Rises, by Hemmingway, who was asked how he went bankrupt. He said, “Gradually, then suddenly.” Isn’t that how things frequently occur? Slowly, then all of a sudden. They take time then suddenly the results are there.
When Tiger Woods came onto the golf scene, people said he was an overnight sensation. What many now know is that he was playing par golf at the age of 5 or 6. At that age he was asked by a television network what he wanted to do. And he said, today I am playing scratch golf. When I am 20, I want to beat Jack Nicholson as the best golfer in the world. This was captured on film.
Tiger Woods envisioned his future in front of the world. And within a few months of that prediction Tiger Woods won the Masters Golf Tournament. And when he did, he was touted as an overnight sensation. Isn’t it funny that it took 15 years for him to become an overnight sensation? It was slow, and then all of a sudden.
Our lives have been like that. We catch a vision of something in our lives that we want to be, or have, or do. We note where we are today, and where we will need to be, or want to be in the future. And when we do that – isn’t there a big gap between those two places? Where we are today, and where we want to go.
Some people look at that gap, and they decide that they can’t ever attain that vision. So they don’t ever try. It’s as if all they can see is the gap. They stop looking at where they want to go, and lose faith that there is a solution, or means to get to the other side. They remain where they are.
On the other hand, there are people like Tiger Woods who keeps their eyes fixated on where they want to go. They keep their focus exclusively on the vision that entered their hearts. It is the vision that pulls them. For these people the Gap is not an obstacle.
Paul, in his letter to the Philippians (Phil 3:12-14) admitted that he saw The Gap when he wrote : 12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
What is this Gap that people see. I see it in my life, and what I want to achieve. I see where I am today and where I want to be 3 – 5 years from now and there is a significant gap. What is this Gap? I think it is our potential; it is God’s promise of prosperity and peace; it is us after we have grown to meet the challenges. It is what God is referring to as “in its own time”. It is the slowly, followed by the suddenly. It’s like the mountain climber who is asked how to climb Mount Everest. One step at a time. Slowly, slowly, slowly, and then suddenly your at the top.
So when we see the vision of where we want to be, whether it is spiritually, physically, emotionally, how do we bridge The Gap?
First, we accept the fact that the vision is placed in our hearts by God. If the vision is helpful to ourselves and others, it is a divine vision – no matter what its nature, big or little, mundane or profound. We are given visions, hints, and nudges by God for direction.
Second, we believe that it is possible to attain. Whether we have an inkling of how we are to achieve it. If it is in our hearts, on our minds, it is possible to fulfill. It is made possible by faith in God’s presence and guidance. In Galatians 3:3 we are admonished, “3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” After knowing that our vision is divinely implanted within us, apparently, we would be foolish to abandon the Divine in our efforts to realize that goal.
Third, we must know that it is necessary to attain. God will not give us direction for incidental, unnecessary activities or accomplishments. God wants us to fulfill our potential so that He can express through us in the largest most effective way. In order to satisfy our co-creative partnership with God, it might be a good idea to listen to that still small voice and move in the direction we are gently prodded.
Fourth, let us focus on that vision and not on the challenges of achieving it. If we start to look at The Gap, and take our eyes of the goal, we lose our way. We can lose faith.
Fifth, we maintain a mindset of continued personal growth. A certain level of personal growth is necessary to feed and clothe and support ourselves and our families and loved ones. Then another level of personal growth is necessary to supply the influence and wisdom to support our neighbors.
Like love, where we are instructed to love ourselves as well as everyone else, personal growth supplies the power to assist, reinforce, and encourage all others. Personal growth leads to personal power. In the hands of those who are interested in personal growth, power is refreshes and bolsters everyone it touches.
Some people will develop the personal power to ignore what is popular, what the World and ego wants us to see, do what is right. But some people are afraid of their inner power. As children, we feared the dark; now, as adults many of us fear the Light - our power, our influence, and the flow of Spirit through us.
But it is that very Light of God within that guides us and attracts others to us. It is Light that makes right, and right makes might. If we allow a weakened sense of personal power rule us, if we accept the inequalities, hatred, division, and bonds of emotional and intellectual oppression of others, then we are preparing our own backs to be burden by their heavy yolk. We are volunteering to wear the chains of bondage.
As a Child of God, and as a citizen of this Nation, our efforts should be that our individual spirits, and the spirits of our government and its institutions, should be to elevate people and not degrade them. As a citizen, and a Child of God, let us strive to bring people into the Light and out of the dark.
And the last principle for acquiring that God-embedded vision on our hearts is through a sustained attitude of forgiveness. Let us greet each day with a forgiving spirit. We forgive everyone, because if we do not, we are giving away our personal power and are submitting to a bondage that can keep us in an emotional and spiritual darkness.
Some of you are probably like me: We’ve been so angry or upset with someone that all we could think of was that person and the horrible way we’d been treated. We thought about them when we should have been sleeping, and all the things we would have liked to have said or done come to mind. Instead of enjoying our lives and families, the person who offended us is receiving all our energy. We are controlled by our pain and resentment – we are in bondage.
The simple, but little used solution, is forgiveness. It costs nothing to give but is worth billions. When we harness the power of forgiveness, our Light shines, our spirits soar, our souls are freed, and others more freely forgive us. Most people will not ask for forgiveness, and many will never know that they have offended us.
Forgiveness is not something we offer or bestow upon someone who begs for it. It is not condoning behavior and saying everything is ok. The Bible does not teach that we should forgive those who ask for it. No, we are simply asked to forgive. It is not a reward to be earned, but a gift to be given. Forgiveness is the doorway to great personal growth and power. It is the key to attaining God’s vision within our hearts. It is a vital gift to ourselves, and the first person we must forgive is our self. Stop the self-loathing, the self-contempt, and negative self-talk. Arise, shine, and begin anew.
The Gap is our unfulfilled potential; what is yet to become to accomplish our vision. With God’s help, and our perseverance, we will bridge that Gap, and become the co-creating child of God. Let us keep in mind that God’s love for us is the same, whether we ever make it across that Gap, or not. There is nothing we can do to make God love us more or love us any less.
Of course, some people will not see a Gap, in which case they are probably being used by God in an important manner right now. If you have no visions to attain, dreams to pursue, or goals to accomplish, if you have no desire to be anything more, that’s great. We are where we are in our spiritual awareness. All is well. But be ready for God’s Light to shine. It is my feeling that no matter your current state of health or age or circumstance, God is not done with you yet. If you are still in a body, then Spirit is seeking ways to express through you.
It is my prayer that we will remain open to Spirit’s guidance, and we remain responsive and receptive to God’s call to “Arise, shine,” and know that our light has come. I pray that gradually, then suddenly, we will realize that we have grown from shoot to bud to blossom, fully mature and nurtured in the love and light of Christ and the Presence of God within.