Every year since 2013, God has given me a word for the year. The word for 2018 was "humility." That word has come alive in a soft and gentle way for me this year and has given me an even more solid foundation to go forward into 2019. In 2019, God is changing things up giving me three words. This will be a year of deeper clarity as I learn more about vision, insight and discernment.
When He gave me these three words, I assumed one of them was the word and others were descriptive of that one. However, the more I study these words, the more I realize they define a process. Throughout this year I hope to have much more clarity about this process, but here is where I am starting.
This is where we must start. "Where there is no vision, the people perish," (Prov. 29:18). It stands to reason, then, that vision is imperative.
When we hear the word "vision," we immediately think of what we can see with our eyes. We think in physical terms. However Solomon wasn't talking about how good our eyesight is. He was talking about how good our perception, dream or desire is. He was talking about what we can see happening that hasn't happened yet.
When we imagine what we dream of happening, it has a greater probability of coming to fruition. Sometimes God shows us dreams of what He sees in our future. They may come in the form of symbols or numbers or an out-and-out picture of what He wants us to know is in our future.
Vision is a God-given ability to see or perceive what will happen. Don't discount your God-given dreams. They are given to you for a reason.
"Insight" is one of those words I've really never thought much about. However all through the Bible, God tells us of insight's great worth.
Solomon was wiser than anyone else. That's because "God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore" (1 Kings 4:29, NIV).
In Proverbs, Solomon tells us how instrumental insight is in our life and journey with God. "The purposes of a person's heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out" (Prov. 20:5). "There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord" (Prov. 21:30).
Paul chimes in. "This is my prayer, that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight" (Phil. 1:9).
So what is insight and how is it different from vision? If vision is the what, insight is the why. If we have insight into why we are to work with God to accomplish a task, we are more likely to find a way to make it happen.
Insight must come from God. Paul tells Timothy, "Reflect on what I am saying for the Lord will give you insight into all this" (2 Tim. 2:7).
Without insight a vision will just stay a dream. We need insight to know why our vision must happen.
Discernment means to perceive what must happen and when it must happen. It also involves the ability to judge well whether we are doing something we should be doing or not.
Discernment keeps us in line with God's heart. It is the key ingredient in this process of following God. We cannot follow God if we don't know God's heart. Because of this, making sure we have surrendered our will to God's is paramount. If the kingdom of you is still on the throne of your heart, discernment will not be active in your life.
Discernment is built by spending time in prayer, not talking so much as listening to understand more of what God desires. It's in that space that peace will replace confusion. Discernment operates in the midst of peace.
Hosea gives the people a list of things they need to do in order to follow God. Then He says, "Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever prudent, let him know them. For the ways of the Lord are right, and the just will walk in them; but the transgressors stumble in them" (Hos. 14:9, MEV).
Discernment gives us the guidance, assurance and peace we need to go forward in doing what God is showing us to do.
This is another way of looking at my journey and yours. On my journey, God clearly showed me that I not only needed to lose weight, but that I could lose weight. I couldn't see it clearly until I happened to be going through old pictures and saw one of me in my wedding dress. It was a time when I was 250 pounds lighter than I was that day. That picture became a concrete vision of what I wanted to happen.
Later when a doctor diagnosed me with congestive heart failure and gave me five years to live unless I lost weight and kept it off, I got insight into why this had to happen soon. My daughter was 9. She would have been 14 in five years. I wanted to be there for all the great things that would happen in her life. I wanted to be there on graduation days and her wedding day. I wanted to be there for heron the special days in her life. But I also wanted to experience them for myself.
With vision and insight, I gained greater clarity, but it was through discernment of how to walk out this journey myself that I was able to lose 250 pounds and keep it off. I was able to work with God to change my habits, develop my forever lifestyle change plan, work through my emotional baggage and begin to embrace all that God has for my destiny.
In the Year 2019
I'm not sure what this year holds for me. I know, though, these three words will be added to how I teach and lead. From experience I know that God will reveal to me more than I ever wanted to know about these three words.
Let's go forward together!
Teresa Shields Parker is a wife, mother, Christian weight loss coach, speaker and author of Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God's Favor, Sweet Freedom: Losing Weight and Keeping It Off with God's Help and Sweet Change: True Stories of Transformation. Get a free chapter of all her books, plus many other free resources on her blog at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.
This article originally appeared at teresashieldsparker.com.
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