Take a moment and close your eyes. Imagine for a moment that you have unable to see with your natural eyes. Tell me what you see. How does the darkness make you feel? Does it overwhelm you? Does anyone sense anything beyond darkness? At the count of three, open your eyes. How did the loss of your vision make you feel? How do you define the word “vision”? Your reaction to the exercise reveals your definition of the word “vision.” According to the dictionary, vision is the sense of sight but it is also the power to perceive in your heart what has not manifested in the natural realm.
Vision can be a goal in your heart. It may be something you want to accomplish for the future or a supernatural vision or dream God put in your heart. When you have a vision for something you want to achieve, you set goals to attain it. In Hab 2.2-3, we read that Habakkuk notes to write the vision and make it plain because the vision is for an appointed time. In this passage of scripture, Habakkuk is questioning God concerning the events of his time. Through his natural eyes, Habakkuk does not see that God is working things out. Habakkuk could not envision the hand of God upon the wickedness within his society. However, after receiving and obeying his instructions, Habakkuk realizes that at the appointed time, which is the timing of God, the vision will surely happen.
In 1879, a visionary by the name of Nannie Helen Burroughs was born in Culpepper, Virginia. Although her parents had been born into slavery and her father died shortly after her birth, Nannie Burroughs saw beyond her situations. At Washington Colored High School, she studied business and domestic science and graduated with honors. After graduation, Nannie Burroughs began looking for teaching positions. Due to her race, the board of education of the District of Columbia refused to hire her. Their decision caused Nannie Burroughs to pursue a vision beyond her natural eyes. She began to desire to build a school for African American girls whereby they could receive an excellent education.
In spite of many obstacles, Nannie Burroughs continued her pursuit toward her vision. She became the associate editor of a Baptist newspaper in Philadelphia in 1897. After returning to Washington, D.C., she took a civil service exam and qualified to teach in the public school system; however, she refused the position. Nannie Burroughs chose to work temporary jobs as a janitor and bookkeeper instead. In 1900, she accepted the corresponding secretary position of Foreign Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention. During that same year, Nannie Burroughs delivered a prophetic speech, “How the Sisters are Hindered from Helping.” This speech marked the beginning of her career. She became the president of the Women’s Convention the following year.
Nannie Burroughs called upon National Baptist Convention to establish a training school for black women. Initially, they denied her request. However, in 1909, the appointed time of her vision arrived and the doors of the National Trade and Profession School for Women and Girls opened. She became the first president of the school, which was renamed, after her following her death. Nannie Burroughs looked beyond her situations and saw her vision. She wrote it upon the tablets of her heart and believed it would one day happen.
Close your eyes again and envision beyond your situations. Take a few moments and write your dreams upon the tablets of your heart. Now, open your eyes and imagine seeing yourself doing that which you desire. Daily set goals and purse them as Nannie Burroughs did. You must be persistent and see beyond your situation because at the appointed time the vision will happen.
Arashal Lawson is a student at McAfee School of Theology, Atlanta, Georgia.