The oft-quoted phrase “Where there is no vision, the people perish” is something that comes to all of our minds from time. These words were penned by King Solomon, the icon of ancient wisdom, in Proverbs 29:18. The man had seen it all (both good and bad, positive and negative), and if you don’t believe that, read his writings: Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Proverbs. Though this is but one of his many wise observations, it is certainly among the most powerful.
The Passion translation of Proverbs 29:18 reads:
“When there is no clear prophetic vision, people quickly wander astray.
But when you follow the revelation of the word, heaven’s bliss fills your soul.”
The power of prophetic vision cannot be overestimated. It serves as a compass. In a life of constant challenge and change, it keeps us moving forward, steady on course. Often it’s “two steps forward and one step back,” and that poses no problem, so long as the two steps forward are indeed FORWARD toward the goal. Vision sees the goal.
Vision frames our conflict. It captures our passion. It motivates our actions. Everyone has a vision for their lives, and everyone is deeply affected by it. One modern word we have seized upon to describe this phenomenon is “paradigm.” A person’s paradigm is the set of glasses they wear that affects everything they see in their world.
Theodore Roosevelt was a man lived a life framed by vision. His life was an ever adjusting aperture that focused and acted upon his world. It was his passion to live the adventure of conquest, whether his foe be his own limitations, his own appetites, enemies abroad or at home, or animals in the wild. His life was lived in “the arena” of challenge. Here are the famous words, lifted from his speech in Sorbonne, France in 1910:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Indeed. The same vision that frames our life, determines our steps and forms our actions. Maximus, in the movie Gladiator, said it well:
“What we do in life echoes in eternity!”