Pioneer preacher J. W. McGarvey (1829-1911), commenting in his famous “Commentary on Acts” on the apostle Paul’s vision of the invitation to go into Macedonia (see Acts 16), made some important observations about the leading of the Holy Spirit.
“Preachers of the present day have no authoritative visions by night to guide them, and the supposition indulged by some, that they are at times prompted by the Spirit, as Paul was, is nothing more than the conceit of an enthusiast, while it is nothing less than a claim to inspiration. But Paul was often guided merely by the indications of Providence, and so may it be with us. If we are attentive to these indications, we shall be under the guidance of that same All-seeing Eye which chose the steps of Paul. If the way of our choosing is entirely blocked up, at times, or some stern necessity turns us aside from a settled purpose, we may regard it as but the firmer pressure of that hand which leads us, for the most part, unseen and unfelt.”
Vision is often defined as "creative thinking." The dictionary definition of vision applicable here is "a vivid picture created by the imagination; creativity." Johnathan Swift once wrote that "Vision is the art of seeing things invisible."
A "vision statement" of a large Nashville church contains this definition:
"Vision is a picture held in your mind's eye of the way things should be in the days ahead. It is a clear mental image of a preferable future. Since vision deals with what is preferable, then vision entails change. Vision is not about status quo, not about maintenance. It is about reaching and growing."
Vision, then, or creative thinking, is the mental activity of those who desire to accomplish the Lord's will in the most effective way possible. Their desire leads them to actively seek those effective ways, which in turn often provides them with insight into how the task may be accomplished. Paul's desire to work "unbroken ground" was so strong he wanted to go to Spain with the gospel, and actually voiced plans to do so (Romans 15:24, 28).
As Brother McGarvey suggested, there are no miraculous revelations from God today. The type “vision” considered here is given to those who desire to be used by God and are willing to dedicate themselves to faithfully utilizing their opportunities. It is given to those who are willing to learn from their meditation on God’s Word and its application to their circumstances and opportunities. The faithful use of the abilities God has given us will allow us to realize many of the dreams we have for the growth of the Kingdom...and maybe even exceed them.
Soon after the completion of Disney World someone said, "Isn't it a shame Walt Disney didn't live to see this?" Mike Vance, creative director for Disney Studios, replied, "He did see it. That's why it's here."
Did Paul dream of going beyond even Spain? We don't know, but his vision no doubt inspired others who would later have their own. What about you? Do you have a vision for the work of God in which he may want you to be involved?