Sometimes we refer to certain people as visionary. They are always seeing visions and dreaming dreams, but their visions and dreams are never realized. Raphael was once asked how he painted his wonderful pictures. He answered, “I dream dreams and I see visions – and then I paint my dreams and visions.” That is what we should do with all the beautiful and noble things which come into our hearts and minds as we think and ponder. Everything lovely that rises before us in thought and feeling, we should set to work to make true in our life and character.
We see heavenly visions sometimes in books, as we read the thoughts that others have written. Every book which is worth reading sets some noble ideal before its readers. The test of a good book, from a moral point of view, is found in the impression it leaves on those who read it, and the vision it puts into their hearts. If it is merely sentimental; if it has no high aim; if it does not inspire us to live more heroically, more helpfully, more kindly, more unselfishly, and to attain better things in character – then it is not worthwhile to read it. But every book which starts the longing in our hearts to make more of our life, or which causes us to desire to be more gentle and pure and Christ-like, is a book worthwhile; and we should be obedient to its vision.
Every beautiful life that we see presents before us a heavenly vision as well. Christ reveals Himself in His friends. There are some Christians whose beautiful life, sweet spirit, and noble faithfulness make us instinctively think of Christ. Someone said of another person, “You only have to shake hands with that man to feel that he is a follower of Christ.” A little child, when asked if he knew about Jesus, said, “Yes, He lives on our street.” There was someone the child knew who was so beautiful in spirit, so gentle, and so kind, that he visioned forth the child’s thought of Christ. Many of us know such a person. In every such life, a heavenly vision is granted to us, to which we should be eagerly and earnestly obedient. It is a call to us to “come up higher.” Its influence upon us should be refining, inspiring, and purifying.
If our devotional life is sincere, we are always looking upon heavenly visions. What is prayer? It is coming into the very presence of Christ. Johnwas not nearer to Jesus when he sat at the Last Supper, nor Marywhen she sat at His feet and listened to His words, than we are when we pray or read the Scriptures. In such sacred moments, there rises before us a vision of what we ought to be, of what Christ wishes us to become, and of what we may attain through grace. In such experiences, all that is best in us struggles to become real in our life and character. In the holy light, we see the faults and flaws in our character, and we are ashamed of them. We have a glimpse of ideal spiritual beauty, and we long to reach it. We should not allow such visions of the true life to rise before the eyes of our soul, and then continue to be just the same faulty people afterward as we were before. Rather, we should go away to grow toward the beauty of our visions.
Every time we worship reverently in our Father’s house, our hearts are lifted up. We look into God’s face and have new visions of life and duty. What kind of people ought we to be after such experiences? How much influence do our Sundays have on our Mondays? How much better are we after seeing Christ? Are we obedient to the His words? We do not need to wait to get to heaven before we can fulfill our heavenly visions. We should seek to make them real – in some measure, at least – while we are still in this world.
Sometimes after ecstatic experiences in certain holy moments, our fervor is kindled; and we think we are ready for great heroisms, large tasks, and splendid self-denials. But the test of life to which most of us are called during the week will not be in conspicuous things which people will talk about; but rather, in the little common things of the common days.
Someone has said that instead of living among the stars, we would do better to learn to love the flowers which grow at our feet. A heavenly vision which we cannot bring down into our common everyday life means very little for us. An artist has made a picture in which we see the interior of a kitchen. However, instead of humans in working clothes, we see angels in white garments doing the humble work. One is putting the kettle on the fire, another is lifting a pail of water, and another is reaching up for dishes. The artist means to convey the idea that we may bring heaven down into all the lowly ways of earth, and that even kitchen service may be made as heavenly as the work of the angels in heaven.
More heavenly grace is often required for the common tasks than for “great things.” There are times when we think we could go to the martyr’s death for Christ; but we cannot even keep sweet under provocation, or be kind to a disagreeable neighbor, or bear opposition. If we wish to obey the heavenly visions which come to us on Sunday, we must pray for grace to be Christ-like in all things on Monday.
How can you bring your “heavenly visions” down to have an influence in the common activities of your everyday life? Have you prayed today for grace to be gentle and pure and Christ-like toward those whom the Lord has placed in your life?
I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on this article! Feel free to leave your reflections and ask your questions below.
God bless you and your family, this day and always.
All for our King’s glory,
photo by Lydia Bennett | Lightstock.com
This post is another installment of Miller’s Monday Musings, a weekly series that is published every Monday on our website. The series features selected writings that have been adapted from the works of James Russell Miller (1840-1912), a much-beloved Christian author and pastor who is well-remembered for his practical thoughts on Christian home and family life. Learn more about this weekly series by clicking here.