January 11, 2022

The Visions of Others


With many dreams come vanities and a multitude of words; but fear God. 

Ecclesiastes 5:7
My grandmother told me a story of Mormon missionaries visiting my grandfather several times back in the 50's. He wasn't a religious man himself, but he seemed interested in what they had to tell him. But it was only curiosity. Finally my grandmother told them this wasn't going anywhere and that they should probably stop coming around. But when she told the story, she made sure I knew that she was not putting down someone else's religion. "Joseph Smith said he saw an angel, and who am I to say he didn't?" she told me.

The point of her story, I think, was twofold. First, don't denigrate another person's religious experience. But second, just because I won't deny your experience does not mean that I need to share it. If we have had a vision of something supernatural, perhaps God wants us to tell of it so that the person we're sharing it with can open up about their own experience of the Divine. 

Too often, a person who has had a deep experience closes their mind to others, insisting that theirs is the only one that counts, that it's the only way. This may have been alright for the Prophet Daniel or Saint John, but nobody today is writing scripture. God wants us to learn from our experience, to discuss it in the beloved community, and to grow with and beyond it. 

Visions are never the end of our experience of God. Much less are our own dreams and visions to become other people's articles of faith. God has a multitude of ways of opening our minds to new possibilities, and sends us a variety of ways to share our faith while listening to others' stories. This is how we can fit our own experience into the magnificent tapestry of the scriptures and of Christ's church.

Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud, and they are not connected to Christ.
 Colossians 2:18-19 (NLT)
Prayer after thinking about today's devotion:
Thank you for my own experience of you, O God. In your mercy, help me to tell of it and inspire others to tell their own stories.
✙ 
After your own thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.

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Text selection ©2021 Evangelische Brüder-Unität. All scripture quotations from the New Revised Standard Version, unless otherwise noted.