Having just watched Eddie the Eagle again this week I find myself mulling on a young man who had a vision and never let it go. From an early age Eddie believed he was going to be an Olympic Athlete, and when that didn’t look likely, he adjusted his vision and realised he was going to be a winter Olympic athlete. And so it was. Eddie faced many difficulties and set backs on the way, at least twice it seemed as if every door was shut. But time and again he got back up, dusted himself down and took another step. He had set his heart, his mind and his soul on his dream.
In the movie Shawshank Redemption Andy Dufrene’s vision of hope keeps him alive in prison, and more than that, it inspires him to bring life to others. In a place of bars and walls and concrete he sees hope, and won’t stop going on about it. When his friend Red tells him he once played the harmonica, but gave it up, finding no purpose for something like that in prison, Andy saves up and buys him a new harmonica. He puts his money where his mouth is, refusing to give up on his vision of hope.
In Invictus, Nelson Mandela’s vision of a new united South Africa leads him to work for forgiveness and peaceful reconciliation. ‘We must surprise them (our enemies) with our compassion, restraint and generosity,‘ he says. He refused to treat his enemies the way they had once treated him. He could see that the way forward required something new, something different. His vision facilitated a fresh start for his country.
A prisoner, a president and an irrepressible winter Olympian. Three very different people, yet all people who took hold of a vision and refused to let go. In the biblical book of proverbs we are told that ‘Without a vision, people can perish’. The Bible is full of characters who grab a vision and refuse to give up on it. Early in his career as a prophet, Ezekiel was warned by God that no one would listen to him, yet still he spoke out about a future where the dry bones of our dusty lives would be revived. He told of living water washing over the world, making dead things live again. He wouldn’t give up speaking out, even if his audience just saw him as an entertaining sideshow. And thousands of years later we still read his words and discover good news. As people bumped into the builder from Nazareth many found a vision for their difficult humdrum lives. They mattered, God had come looking for them, and they could be a part of his incredible kingdom. That vision revived many, and continues to do so today, helping us to keep going, putting one foot in front of the other, as we fix our eyes on Jesus, the friend of sinners, the beginning and end of everything.
‘Come to me if you’re weary, and I will give you rest. Come and learn the unforced rhythms of grace, for my yolk is easy and my burden is light.’ (Matthew 11 v 30)