On April 27, the new 89 bed Cypress Regional Hospital opened for patient care. This well-designed facility boasts abundant natural light in patient rooms and therapy areas, efficient movement of patients throughout the hospital, elimination of public patient wards, and a much healthier environment for patients and staff. This facility will be a blessing to our region as it serves as a high quality centre of healing care. And because construction started before the cost of materials and labour skyrocketed we have this wonderful facility at a bargain price!
Now that we have the new hospital, it is easy for us to see how it was the right thing to do and that it was done at the right time. But in the beginning, there was a lot of opposition to building a new hospital. This hospital would not have happened without forward-thinking leaders with a vision for the future. These leaders had to remain committed to their vision in the face of criticism. These leaders had to be willing to sacrifice a huge cost to make the vision happen. Without leaders with vision, we would not have a new hospital today.
We are in the midst of a time when the Christian Church is going through a huge change. We used to be the centre of our society, now we are on the fringe. We used to be the default position (everyone used to go to church because that was what everyone was doing.) Now we are often the last choice among many as people consider where to invest themselves. And that’s okay.
The Christian Church actually does a better job of being the Church when it is not mainstream. Throughout her history, it is when the Church is marginalized and even persecuted that she most effectively communicates the Good News of Jesus Christ through words and deeds.
But it is imperative, especially at times like these, that the Church of Jesus Christ has a crystal clear vision for the future, that we remain committed to that vision in the face of criticism and that we be willing to sacrifice a huge cost to make that vision happen. Thanks be to God that we are blessed with the best leadership any group of people could ever have. Jesus Christ is our leader. And what is the vision of our leader? Jesus tells us in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” It was a vision to which Jesus remained committed even in the face of huge opposition. It was a vision for which Jesus paid the ultimate price: He suffered and died on the cross. It is because of the vision of Jesus Christ that we have salvation. He knew you before you were born. He chose you for eternal life in your baptism. He washed you clean of all of your sin. He has saved you from everything that can ever harm you. Nothing can separate you from Jesus and his great love for you. Yet none of that would have happened without Jesus and his vision for your salvation.
So how is your vision? The challenge that we face as we follow Jesus is that we constantly revert to looking at life through our human eyes instead of through the eyes of faith. We fall into the habit of being critical and negative, seeing the glass as half empty and rapidly draining dry. We fall into the habit of living by what we can and cannot do instead of living our lives trusting in what God can do. But trusting in our human ability is not following the ways of Jesus. When his disciples asked him who could be saved, Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)
We live by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7) It takes faith to say we will live forever when it looks like we are headed for death. It takes faith to say that we are pure in God’s eyes when our sinfulness is obvious to us. And it takes faith to say that the glass is half full and has the potential to get fuller when it looks like it is half empty and on the verge of going dry. It takes faith to be positive and encouraging when negativity is all around us. Yet positive people who can see the possibilities in the future are exactly what our families, our congregations and our communities need. We need people with vision. We need people with faith. Jesus has the vision we need. Jesus gives us the faith we need. Let us live by faith, not by sight.
Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that thou art;
Thou my best thought… by day and by night,
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
(Be Thou My Vision, WOV 776)
(This article was written for the May 2007 edition of The Binder, the monthly newsletter of Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, Swift Current SK.)