Vision and sight

4/30/2021

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision!” -- Helen Keller
 
My friend and brother, the late Rev. Dr. Junius Dotson, tried his best to get the folks in The United Methodist Church to see things through a different set of lenses.  He challenged each of us to look, not through our limited eyesight, but through belief and faith in Jesus Christ, to look through the loving eyes of Jesus. Dr. Dotson’s mantra was, “See all the people!”
 
Jesus challenged us by reminding us that the “harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” Jesus clearly saw “all the people.” He also saw the workers and quickly concluded that more workers were needed if we were serious about reaching people with the Good News of the Gospel.
 
I am often asked, as a Bishop, to share my vision for The United Methodist Church or for the IGRC. My vision has a few nuisances and growing pains, but it basically remains the same. I want folks to come to faith in Jesus Christ and to serve him as their Lord and Savior. I want the clergy and laity that I am so blessed to lead to be so passionate and enthusiastic about following Jesus that they will be compelled to bring people to Jesus Christ and to assist them in the process of becoming fully devoted disciples.
 
My vision is for a denomination and an annual conference filled with churches that are propelled by the power of prayer, anchored in the Word of God, led by the Holy Spirit to engage in ministries that matter and make a difference, while transforming the world, one person at a time with the life-changing Good News of the Gospel. My vision is for Christian community, Christian unity, and Christ-centered justice and love to be at the heart of all that we do. My vision is that it will be said again about the church, “they are turning the world upside down!”
 
John the Baptist is my number two Bible hero.  I love his attitude and understanding of his call.  He summed it up in this simple statement about himself and Jesus, “He must increase, and I must decrease.” John was willing to be set aside for the sake of the kingdom of God.
 
One of the lessons I have learned during this pandemic is that it really is not about “me.”  Don’t get me wrong, the Lord wants to use each one that is willing and available for service, in some form or fashion. We get it twisted when we think that it’s all about us. As members of The United Methodist Church, we have grown up reciting the Wesley covenant prayer.  This simple prayer is all about being fully surrendered and pliable for God’s use, no matter what.
 
There is a big difference between vision and sight. A recent trip to Mayo Clinic revealed that I am losing my battle with glaucoma. While I still have physical sight, it is rapidly deteriorating, and a more drastic medical approach is needed. I am not sure what the future will hold but I am sure that even blindness will not hamper my Kingdom vision.
 
My personal medical challenges will not hinder the vision of the IGRC from moving forward. It will be necessary for me to take a brief ministry break to address my eyesight issues.  I apologize for any disruption this may cause you or our Conference.
 
I am working with the Conference leaders to determine our next steps. I do so with confidence that this Annual Conference can and will continue to move forward in achieving God’s vision for us. I will be requesting a brief Medical Leave to deal with my eyesight problems. This Medical Leave will become effective July 1, 2021. An interim Bishop will be assigned by the Council of Bishops. Please keep this interim Bishop and me in your prayers.  
 
My vision for the IGRC is not nearly as important as the Lord’s BIG PICTURE vision. Only the Lord knows where and how each servant should be deployed. My job and your job are to be available and ready to serve.
 
I invite you to join me as I pray again this prayer of full surrender:
 
“I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.”
-- John Wesley

God Bless,
Bishop Beard