I saw Slumdog Millionaire this week. I hadn't planned to; my daughter and I just went on the spur of the moment. It's hard to talk about its impact. Yes, it had a happy ending, but it was a rough fairy tale. For someone who has seen a lot of roughness in Uganda, it was hard for me. I have sat on the floor in front of thugs pointing an AK47 at me and my family. In a sense I have never fully recovered from the trauma of that incident. Yet it was mild in comparison with what goes on every day all over the world: Christian martyrdoms, about 500 a day, terrible tortures, horrendous crimes. Even regarding the production and follow up of this movie there have been concerns about fairness in the treatment of the child stars from the real slums of India. Throughout the movie I kept my head down a lot, not wanting to imprint on my brain scenes of horror and violence.
But above and beyond all that I have to agree that this story is a powerful one about vision. It was the sense of destiny that kept the hero moving ahead against all odds, until he achieved his goal and dream - to be united with the love of his life. His faith and vision ignited faith and vision in her and enabled her to rise to that destiny. The power of that faith spoke to the brother who had the power to help to make it happen, despite his own lack of faith and vision, his own compromise and corruption.
I am excited about the power of vision. If I weren't I wouldn't have applied for and been accepted this past week into a training program to become a professional Christian Life Coach. Life Coaching is about helping others close the gap between their vision for their lives and the realities they live with every day. It is about implanting in others what God has implanted in me, and what I have to ask others to encourage me in, and have to grow in faith about every single day.
Proverbs 29:18 says "Where there is no vision, the people perish." This is so true. We may not perish physically, but we may perish morally, emotionally or spiritually, if we have no vision, and certainly if we do not have God's vision for our lives. And we know that He works with our visions and dreams, the desires of our hearts, and weaves them into the visions for our whole lives. His grace makes Romans 8:28 true every day, and more especially as we move forward very intentionally in obedience to our calling and vision.
But there are no shortcuts. I was reminded of that as I went onto www.biblegateway.com this morning to find the correct reference for that verse. All across the top of the website was a moving ad from a Christian university saying "There are no shortcuts to the fulfillment of God's plans for you." It was a highlighting of my reading for today in the Bible League Devotional Planner: "We live by faith, not by sight." 2 Cor. 5:7 And as if God was determined I should never ever forget it, Streams in the Desert for today had these words:
There is no way of learning faith except by trial. It is God's school of faith, and it is far better for us to learn to trust God than to enjoy life...The lesson of faith, once learned, is an everlasting acquisition and an eternal fortune made; and without trust even riches will leave us poor.
(from Days of Heaven on Earth)
The hero of Slumdog Millionaire got the money and the girl. We like him getting the money because he didn't cheat, and he went on the program to win the girl. So the fairy tale rings true as they always do, to teach us universal truths, as this one teaches us about the power of vision. But for those of us who know Jesus Christ, and who have our vision for our lives caught up with Him, we must be willing to pay big prices for the fulfillment of that vision, must accept the hardship of having no shortcuts, and must learn true faith by trial.
As I write my mind is flashing back, visually and audibly, to a scene at a conference a few years ago. Members of a Christian worship band were praying over us. One of them began shouting over me: "FAITH! FAITH!! Woman of FAITH!! You are a great woman of FAITH!! It is FAITH that will change your circumstances!!!!". Well, five years down the road, I can see how faith has changed my circumstances, and brought me further along the road to the fulfilment of my vision, of God's vision for my life. And indeed there have been no shortcuts. And often each day I can still feel like a beginner in the school of faith. But I have a faithful Father, who undergirds me and leads me on, and empowers me with faith, through His Holy Spirit.
And the Lord answered me, and said, "Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie; though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come." ( Habakkuk 2: 2-3)