Take a moment, and travel with me as we follow St. Paul back to the city of Troas. You may never have heard of Troas. It was a thriving metropolis back in its day. It was so flourishing that none other than Julius Caesar once considered making Troas his western capital for the Roman empire. In fact, you may recall Homer’s Iliad, and Helen of Troy. There was a lot going on in the region of Troas including the Trojan horse, but I think you get it.
Back to Paul. He was in Troas where the beginning of his second missionary journey began with a vision. A vision occurs in the mind and not the brain. The brain dreams. Dreams have a language all their own. But visions take shape in the mind. The distinction between a dream and a vision is more than a semantic one. Sure, dreams are important, but having a vision for life is more important. Paul goes to sleep in Troas, and Scripture tells us, “Paul had a vision: there stood a man from Macedonia pleading with him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us’ (Acts 16:9).”
A vision is based on hope that is unseen. As Paul will write, “Who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:24). So, we move forward in the hope that motivates and leads us into the future and the dawning of a new day. It is what expectation is all about. And expectation develops patience while we progress. In fact, twentieth century author and philosopher Simone Weil puts it this way: “Waiting patiently is the foundation of the spiritual life.”
Paul writes, “love is patient.” With a stroke of the pen Paul ties together words like patience, expectation, hope, love and good. And here is the punch line: good is derived from God. Therefore, we say God gives hope because God is good. With this vision of hope firmly in mind, we move forward with God and stand on the promise of God. There on the shore of Troas, Paul is about to launch into an unseen future that will shape Christendom forever.
I had a vision. It was nothing like Paul. Still, it was a vision of hope. It was based on a promise. Forty-nine years ago, I stood on the promise of love where Mary and I made vows to God in marriage. We expressed hope from “this day forward.” In other words, the vision filled us with an expectation of good and, while venturing into the unknown and unseen, we stood on the promise of hope.
We could not see, nor we did we necessarily want to see, what the future would bring but by casting a vision of hope at the altar of God we tied the knot and stood on the promise as the old hymn sings, “bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord.”