Future Vision

My cousin Cliff usually posts silly jokes on Facebook. For example, he offered one that said, “If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving’s not for you.” Hilarious. But today he posted something that really got my attention.

Anyone who has never heard “The Vision” by David Wilkerson should check it out. It’s from the 70s and details what he saw in a vision about events to transpire in the not to distant future. I remember thinking I would never see such things. Today I am seeing those things. At the end he said there were 5 words that kept running thru his mind: “God has everything under control”. Indeed he does. I pray that those I love are on board when that train leaves the station. Time is truly short.

I have to admit that I had never heard of Wilkerson’s book or anything about the writer. Looking into him, I discovered him to be the author of The Cross and the Switchblade, which I had heard of but hadn’t read.

Since I had some work to do on the ramp to my deck, work that involved driving 384 screws into floorboards, I decided to give The Vision a listen. I found an updated version of the 1973 book on YouTube and listened to it as I sent those screws into the wood.

Wilkerson claimed to have a vision of the future, but it’s not entirely clear where his vision ends and the apocalyptic portions of the Bible begin. Still, he nailed a number of things that either suggest he had some divine insight into the future or was simply very good at reading the signs. For example, would he have known in the 1970s that pornography would be streaming into our homes or that hotels would be making serious coin by selling that stuff on their TVs? Who would have guessed that open hostility toward anything Christian would begin to gain such a foothold in our society? Maybe somebody would have, but Wilkerson seemed pretty spot on.

So was Wilkerson prophetic in the sense that Nahum and Habakkuk were? I’m not sure, but he was prophetic in the sense of proclaiming pretty clearly the words of God.

One of the things that really struck me was the great danger that affluence and comfort hold for today’s Christians. As I sit in my comfortable home and look at my dazzling wife, I know that I could easily think that something I’ve done has made me deserve the blessings that have come my way. When we do that, then we can be lulled into either inactivity or pointless, self-serving activity.

Then, as my cousin suggests, when that train leaves the station, we run the risk of looking out the window and seeing people whom we might have helped to get on board. I don’t worry about end times, since God can work those things out. But I do hope that when I stand before my Creator, I don’t have to be ashamed of the things I failed to do before “the train left the station.”

The Outside Voice (Hebrews 1:1)

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways. (Hebrews 1:1)

We live in a communication-rich world. Just this morning, I’ve managed to communicate with my two oldest daughters without setting eyes on either one of them. Between the ubiquitous cell phone, the text message, Twitter, Facebook, and good, old-fashioned hollering, we can communicate through many channels and with the greatest of ease. Emily, on a train to Chicago, managed to take a photo of the grandkids with her phone and, using Amtrak’s wifi, post it to Facebook. That so beats the squalling I heard when they rose at 5:00 this morning.

I appreciate the ease of communication that we enjoy, but that ease does not equal profundity. Even that most prolific of the prophets, Isaiah, wrote relatively little by the standards of the world. Compare Isaiah’s sixty-six chapters to the 1,056 lines that comprise Milton’s Paradise Lost. Or the 100 cantos of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Yes, both of those works are quite profound, but many even longer works–think of perhaps one of James Michener’s vast novels–make up for their lack of importance with a hefty page count.

God spoke to our (Hebrew) ancestors at many times and in various ways, but he did not blather on endlessly. Read the life of Abraham to see how a series of powerful experiences were interrupted by long years of normality. If Isaiah wrote at a steady pace, which he probably did not, he would have churned out just the equivalent of a chapter each year throughout his career.

A young Christian expects God to speak clearly, powerfully, and pretty much nonstop. As we move through our lives, we recognize that most of the time even the still, small voice is a great deal more definite than what we hear from God. We need to learn a lesson from those Old Testament prophets, listening carefully in order to be ready for those rare eruptions of God’s “outside” voice.