Parched and exhausted, our hero staggers along in the desert. Suddenly, he spies an oasis—water and palm trees—not too far away. Discovering a final burst of strength, he drags himself towards the vision that represents freedom, only to find it is a mirage.
In a movie, two friends are wandering in the Australian outback, thirsty, disoriented and exhausted. Suddenly one of them spots a four-wheel drive. He gets in and finds to his amazement that a slurpee—frozen cold drink—is sitting in the console waiting for him.
His mate looking on cannot believe his eyes. His deluded friend is sitting on the desert sands miming the whole thing.
The audience laughs.
The Deception Of A Mirage
A real mirage is not like the hallucinations we see in cartoons or movies. It is an actual visual phenomenon.
A mirage can occur in extreme heat, such as is produced in the desert, or as we more commonly experience, on a scorching highway or tarmac.
Layers, or ripples of air of different densities rise up from the ground. Sunlight encounters these ripples and bends, or refracts, upwards. What we see looks like water, but is in fact a reflection of the sky. 
The danger of a mirage in a desert is its potential to lead someone in a different direction from where he or she should be going—further away from the source of real water.
The Power of Prophetic Vision
A true prophetic vision for our life is a picture of God’s plan for our lives. It is our guiding purpose.
We may receive a prophetic vision from God for our lives in many ways, whether through:
· The desires He places in our hearts (Ps 37:4)
· Scripture that has a significant meaning for us personally
· Recognising the gifts and abilities God has invested in us (1 Peter 4:10)
· Prophetic revelation—prophecies, dreams, visions (1 Tim 1:18)
· An inner sense of God’s call or purpose
· A cause that burns in our heart—a problem that we desire to be a part of the solution for
· The witness of Christian leaders and people that are close to us (1 Tim 4:14)
A prophetic vision for our lives can come suddenly, such as Paul’s call in Damascus (Acts 26:16-18) or it can emerge slowly as we walk by faith (Prov 3:5-6)
Counterfeit Prophetic Vision
A counterfeit prophetic vision appears real, but is a false and misleading picture of God’s purpose for our future.
The Bible warns us of false prophets and false prophecies. Most of us would like to believe that we have enough discernment not to be deceived by a false personal prophecy. 
However, like a mirage, counterfeit vision can be also created by a very subtle distortion of the true vision the Father has intended for our lives.
I have come to realise that I am indeed vulnerable to these subtle distortions, through personal weaknesses that the enemy knows only too well.
Like the mirage, a counterfeit vision can distract and lead us away from God’s true purpose, causing us to settle for less than God’s best.
For many of us, this is the true danger.
At worst, it can lead us into deception and away from God’s plan altogether.
Some Causes of Counterfeit Vision
A mirage is caused by light that is bent, or refracted. Likewise, ‘refractors’ that exist in or around our lives can distort God’s vision for our personal future.
Some of these refractors are:
1. Our Personal History
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Cor 5:17
God sees us according to our destiny. However, the enemy wants us to live out of our history.
Counterfeit vision can occur when deep down you believe that history will repeat itself—that the failures, rejections, or frustrations of your past will inevitably be a part of your future,
‘What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.’ Job 3:25
Fear can affect our vision as we continually foresee a negative outcome. Fear causes you to hold back. The danger of fear is that what you see, you inevitably head towards.
This can include fear that words spoken over us by others or ourselves hold truth.
3. Low Self-Esteem
‘When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”
…”But Lord,” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”’ Judg 6:12,15
Low self-esteem can warp our vision of God’s intended purpose for our lives. We don’t see ourselves as God sees us—therefore, we don’t rise to fulfil our destiny and fall short of God’s best for our lives.
‘Then they despised the pleasant land; they did not believe his promise. They grumbled in their tents and did not obey the LORD. So he swore to them with uplifted hand that he would make them fall in the desert.’ Ps 106:24-26
The call of God is always going to be bigger than what we can comfortably achieve on our own. Unbelief will cause you to waver between the true vision of God and what you deem ‘reasonable’ or ‘achievable.’
‘Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.’ Prov 16:18
Pride can distort our God-given vision, causing us to move too quickly and presumptuously.
‘Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica.’ 2 Tim 4:10
Worldly enticement is like a mirage that leads us away from the call of God.
We are presented with a tempting, alternative picture of how we can use our gifts and talents to gain recognition or success in an arena that is not God’s intended purpose for our lives.
Escaping Counterfeit Prophetic Vision
Recently I have recognised at least two of the factors I have mentioned above affecting my vision. If you can identify with any of these, the following action points may help: 
1. Refresh your desire for pure vision, to see as God sees.
2. Recognise the things that are distorting your vision.
3. Repent of seeing less than God’s best for your life
4. Renounce the counterfeit vision—acknowledge and verbally dismiss it
5. Reveal any issues that have been hidden; find a safe person to share with
6. Restore—do whatever you need to do to get healed up in areas that I’ve mentioned above
7. Refocus on God’s vision for your life.
 For more information on the fascinating science of mirages, see the following:
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© Helen Calder 2011 Enliven Blog – Prophetic Teaching
On team with David McCracken Ministries