The reason that businesses create policies and procedures is to be able to make a thousand decisions at one time. Otherwise, they have to make a decision about each new circumstance, each new day. In many ways, clarifying vision is doing the same thing in your relationship. There is power in predecision to guide priorities.
The word division is made up of two parts. The prefix di means “two.” So the word division means “two visions.” The reason so many marriages live in constant conflict is that there are two visions in the home.
Do you have a vision in your marriage or do you have di-vision?
Luke 11:17 tells us,
Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.
Most couples have not consciously thought about this, but there’s great hope for your future if you can start here and now. If you continue to coexist with two visions, your house will reap what you sow. But when you buy in to a shared vision, it is like predeciding a thousand decisions before they are ever made.
One way this plays out for Nina and me is in the way we manage our finances. We have already predecided to do our best to live a life of service and sacrifice. We seek to give more than we receive. While this includes our time, it also has financial implications. This means we don’t have to have a conversation every month about whether we will tithe or give to missions organizations. We have already made those predecisions before any money hits our bank account. This helps us avoid the tendency to overspend or just serve ourselves. When we take a look at our calendar for the month, we are able to avoid many disagreements when we let our values guide our decisions. We have guidelines in place that help us ensure that our priorities are driving our commitments.
In an age in which we use our electronic devices to direct us, it is hard to remember the long, painstaking path that navigators took to help people find their way. Historically, navigation has included dependence on constant objects of the physical world — the sun, the moon, the stars — and using them to find one’s way in the world. For thousands of years, navigators, sailors, and astronomers used the North Star, also known as Polaris, as their true north, relying on it to give them a sense of direction. The North Star lies nearly in a direct line with the axis of the earth’s rotation, making it appear motionless in the sky. This makes it an excellent fixed point to use for navigation.
Vision gives us a sense of our true north. It won’t mean that every decision will be based on a predetermined standard. It just serves as a marker to direct or redirect our path and ensure we’re staying true to our desired course.
In our case, our shared vision helps push those 55/45 decisions in a certain direction. It holds us accountable to make sure that as a whole, we’re always finding ways to allow our marriage to bless outwardly. We don’t use shared vision to force our way. Shared vision is not a rule to follow; it’s a North Star that guides.
You may have a strong sense that there is a purpose for your marriage, but it hasn’t been revealed to you yet. Just like the mountains hidden in the night, you know God’s vision is there, but you just can’t see it yet. You want to know how to get a clear revelation of that vision.
I have a strong memory of the first time my family took a vacation outside of the Chicago area. We arrived in Colorado late at night and drove to our little cabin in a small town called Frisco, near the mountains. It was dark when we arrived. The air was fresh, and the mood was calm. I had been told of the beauty of the region, but because it was dark, I wasn’t able to see it for myself. We went to bed, but when I got up the next morning and walked outside, my jaw dropped. The Rocky Mountains were on full display, spread out before us in full grandeur. The mountains were framed with clouds that brought new revelation to the color silver. I was stopped in my tracks by the glorious reality of the beautiful surrounding. It was breathtaking.
Though it had gone unseen the night before, that didn’t mean it was not present. But when what was present was revealed to me, it changed my perspective. As the apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 1:8-9,
With all wisdom and understanding, [God] made known [revealed] to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ.
Vision Realized in Prayer
Business plans and mission statements have reduced the idea of vision to a simple list of corporate commitments. But, the vision we’re recommending in marriage is a joint vision that is only revealed in prayer. A marriage vision isn’t one that is handcrafted in a brainstorm meeting. Marriage vision is a calling delivered by the Lord.
Vision as revealed throughout the Scriptures wasn’t a small group of disciples sitting down in a boardroom and brainstorming ideas. No, it started with a people desperately seeking God, pursuing with persistence until the Lord delivered.
Acts 1 and 2 tell us how, after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, the disciples followed His instructions before His ascension and waited on the gift the Father had promised. They returned to their upper room in Jerusalem, and for ten days they “joined together constantly in prayer” (Acts 1:14). The disciples had a ten-day detox from their personal wants and individual plans. For days, they persisted in prayer and fasting, asking the Lord for instructions and clarity for their next steps. On that tenth day — the day of Pentecost — they saw a vision of “tongues of fire” on their heads, and they were all “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:3-4).
The disciples of Jesus first did the work of letting go of their plans, and then they were filled with a new vision. That’s when Peter stood up and spoke for the disciples to the crowd of onlookers. He quoted the prophet of old from Joel 2:
‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy’. — Acts 2:17-18
The disciples had done great things in the previous days. But something powerful happens when you let go of your vision for you and grab hold of God’s vision for you. You go from your wants to God’s dream. Might I have the audacity to speak the words of my namesake, the prophet Joel, over you as you read this book today? Perhaps God has something to say, which you haven’t grasped yet because the grip of self-focus still has a hold on your soul. Don’t be so captivated by a vision for self that you can’t step into a vision for your marriage.
The American Dream is about pursuing what you want.
The biblical vision is about pursuing a God-given dream. It wasn’t Peter who came up with the idea to share the gospel with the Gentiles in Acts 10. He was given a God-inspired vision.
PRAYER PROMPT: Ask the Lord to begin to free you from your personal desires and individual plans so He can reveal a shared vision with your spouse.
Excerpted with permission from Praying Circles Around Your Marriage by Joel and Nina Schmidgall with Mark Batterson, copyright Mark Batterson, Joel Schmidgall, Nina Schmidgall.
* * *
You know those arguments that come up over and over and over again in your marriage? You can avoid them! Get together in prayer and ask the Lord to show you how to create a shared vision. Come share how your marriage has changed because of a predicision. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily