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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Faith Is: To keep the vision even in darkness

To keep the vision even in darkness:  the third faith characteristic listed in Alton’s letter is a juxtaposition of opposites.  The vision pulls us up and lifts our spirits while darkness represents a serious threat to this vision that would pull us down to humiliation and defeat.  Two examples come to mind.  A secular example is Steve Jobs who envisioned user friendly electronics.  Threats to that vision could include days of void when practical ideas to realize the vision did not seem to flow.  A religious example is Christ whose vision of holiness was under threat from the sins of the world.  I have written in an earlier blog of the holy structure of the Trinity amidst muddy rainy weather—the recurring state of worldly affairs.

Have you ever looked out your window to see a dog trotting down the street?  Unlike some dogs that meander about, this particular dog seemed to have an end in view, a definite place that he was resolute on reaching—a dog with a mission.  I have seen such a dog and admired his obvious determination.  In a similar way, we admire people who keep the vision even in darkness.  They display positive character traits including courage, determination, discipline, integrity, imagination, persistence, optimism, and a resolute faith.  They have the ability to focus amid distractions, pessimism, and the burden of foreboding futility and gloom.  We tend to view such persons as positive, transformative people who can lead us out of doldrums, fear, and stultifying ambivalence.  If anyone can redeem the situation, it is the person who can maintain a certain vision even in darkness.

The phrase “the vision” implies something worthy.  I can have a fixed ambition to be the drug lord of Saint Petersburg with minions of underlings, thugs, and hit men at my service.  Such a mental image can have similar psychological effects as visions.  A clear picture of what I want can energize and stimulate motivation and discipline.  But here, rather than arising from faithfulness and love the drive is seated in ruthlessness and hate.  Therefore, rather than being a redemptive vision it becomes a corrosive obsession.  To keep the vision even in darkness serves faithfully the forces of light.

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