Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Finish the course

I got word from some friends last night that Robert Jordan had passed away.

Who is Robert Jordan? He is a fantasy author. His most famous work is a series of fantasy novels in the Wheel of Time series. Being a fan of science fiction and fantasy, I got hooked on this series in seminary. To date there are eleven books in the series with a prequel, some short stories, and an encyclopedia.

Fans of the series have been waiting for Jordan to publish the final book in the series. That was expected to come out in the next year or so. Now, that work will be finished by another's hand or never be completed.

Jordan had been fighting a heart condition. He was fighting the good fight, though. He did not want to face defeat. He wanted to make the best of his life. He kept the vision for his last book in mind.

Jordan's story reminds me of the story of one of my heroes. Walt Disney faced his final days (battling lung cancer) with strength and never giving up on the vision he had.

There is the story that while Walt was laying in his hospital bed he was talking with his brother and partner, Roy. They were talking about what would be come Walt Disney World outside of Orlando, Florida. Roy related that conversation of how Walt, using the ceiling tiles as reference points, laid out the vision of streets and where different attractions would be situated. Walt died that next day.

Jordan didn't get the last book finished. The vision was complete in his mind. He even passed the "skeleton" of the story on to loved ones. So how it goes from this point forward will depend on how his family understood the vision.

It begs the question of what we all have in our own lives that needs to be pursued. I have spoken of dreams in the past. But there are visions of things that we all want to accomplish and just haven't accomplished them, yet. Maybe "life" keeps getting in the way. Perhaps we believe we have "grown up" and passed them by. But there may be visions that we have yet to see made reality and are fully able to bring them to reality.

I deal with vision every week. As a pastor it is part of my job to conceive the vision for the church. It doesn't happen in isolation. It happens through intimacy with God, the congregation, and the community. And at times the vision seems very blurry or impossible. But without the vision, there is chaos and confusion.

We are all being called by some vision. Perhaps it is betterment of self (sanctification in good Wesleyan terminology) or bettering the world around us (mission) or perhaps contributing something to the world. Whatever the vision we are called to, we should pursue it. If we aren't going to finish the course, at least make provision for passing the vision on to another generation who might bring it to reality.