Summary: If we are to understand what is happening around us, we need: 1. New eyes to see. 2. New ears to hear. 3. A new heart to believe.
We have just read about a man named Jacob who checked into what some have called “The Hard Rock Hotel.” He had a vision which turned his ordinary world into the extraordinary. He saw something that he had not seen before, but which was there all the time. He would never have believed it in his waking moments, so God had to show it to him in a dream. In the very place where he had stopped to lay down for the night, there was a stairway to heaven. The angels of God were going back and forth between heaven and earth, and God himself was standing at the top of the stairway. When he arrived, the only thing Jacob saw was a flat place on the ground where he could lay down and a rock on which he could rest his head, when all the time he was surrounded by the glory of God and the host of heaven.
When I read that story I often wonder how many times I only see the natural world, when the reality is that I am surrounded by the supernatural. I am so preoccupied by the ordinary that I fail to see the extraordinary. I live so much in this world that I fail to see the real world. I am so good at observing the material world, and so poor at seeing the spiritual world. I want everything to be explainable, so I never see the unexplainable. But what I pray for are eyes to see the stairway of God. I want to see the supernatural as easily as I see the natural. I want to see the miraculous as easily as I see the laws of nature operating. I want to see the spiritual as easily as I see the physical.
The kind of thing that happened with Jacob is the kind of thing happened often throughout Scripture. One day as Moses was walking through an ordinary day, he encountered an extraordinary bush that was aflame with God. He had been tramping over what he thought was ordinary ground when God told him to take off his shoes because he was on holy ground. I sometimes ask myself how many times I have been tramping through some familiar place and failed to see that it is aflame with God. I have been walking on what I thought was ordinary ground when all the while it was holy ground. What will it take for us to see what is really going on around us?
The first thing I need, if I am to understand that there is more going on than I realize, is: I need new eyes to see. I do not need better eyes, I need new eyes. I need spiritual eyes that come as a gift from God. He enables me to see, hear and feel things I had not experienced before. We talked a couple of weeks ago about the fact that we are involved in a spiritual battle. We need to see that. The person you are having a conflict with is not the problem, and they are not the enemy. The problem is your spiritual enemy who is trying to maximize the differences between you and someone else so that he can divide you and quench the love you once had. The little frustrations and disappointments of the day may be caused by your spiritual enemy to distract you from the goodness of God. The major discouragements and depressions you are experiencing may be the result of the enemy who is trying to make the future look hopeless, and get you to believe that God has forsaken you and does not love you. Seeing this is a part of having spiritual eyes, for things are not always what they seem. The Bible says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (1 Peter 5:7-9). You are not alone. Many others have experienced what you are experiencing. There is an explanation for all that is going on which goes beyond the obvious presenting problem.
But don’t focus on the dark side. Understand it and deal with it, but don’t dwell on it. Focus on the other things that you don’t see — the great and good things. I have always been amazed at Jesus’ appearances after his resurrection and the spiritual dullness of the disciples who failed to recognize him. After the resurrection several people reported having seen and talked with Jesus, but Thomas would not believe until he had placed his hand in his wounds. The disciples who went fishing after his death heard him call to them, and even though he spoke to them as before, they did not recognize him. The most amazing story is when two of the disciples where walking along the road to Emmaus. Jesus came up and began to walk with them, but they did not know who he was. It was obvious they were depressed, even though they had heard stories that he had risen from the dead. He began to teach them from the Scriptures about what the Christ was destined to suffer, but still they did not recognize him. He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken ” (Luke 24:25). Slow indeed. Their hearts were burning within them, and they still didn’t get it. They sat down to a meal with him, and even though their hearts were drawn to him, they were clueless as to who he was. But then he broke the bread and gave it to them in his usual way and opened their eyes.