By Debbie Desmond
The Apostle John, revealed in the first chapter of his gospel that he had seen God’s glory,
“We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Yet, just before this statement, he writes, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”
I have been mulling over this concept the past week – how easy it is for us to have the glory right before us, and yet, if we do not have “eyes to see”, we turn aside unaware.
At the time of Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, where His disciples were crying out, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” and, “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” there were those there who were eagerly awaiting God’s glorious Messiah, but who never “saw” Him. They were so blind to His glory that they even insisted that His disciples be rebuked. Yet Jesus said, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out,” as if even creation recognized the glory of the Lord. Jesus then went on to weep over Jerusalem’s blindness, that they “did not recognize the time of God’s coming.”
God in His glory was right before them, and they didn’t “see” Him. Jesus said in Matthew 13,
“seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand”.
I am wondering how much we miss of the glory of God because we haven’t got the eyes to see. Having witnessed so many miracles and signs and wonders right in front of me, I know how easy it is for the brain to discount what is before me or the experience that I am having with God. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says,
“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
I can remember praying for a lady on the streets with a lump as big as a golf ball on her leg. When I prayed for her, it instantly disappeared. I can remember struggling to come to accept what just happened despite me having seen it happen with my own eyes. When I prayed for a deaf and dumb man and he walked away hearing and talking, I went home struggling to come to terms with what happened. Even when he returned 2 weeks later, it was still something with which my mind struggled.
On the first couple of occasions when I was overcome by the joy of the Lord, my mind wanted to insist that my laughing had to originate from some external stimulation – that is all my natural mind knew of up until that time. I walked for a while in that cross-roads where I wondered whether this was me being “foolish” or whether this was the spirit.
At some point, faced with these and others supernatural occurances that defy the natural, I had to choose whether I would comprehend with my spirit or my natural mind. I had to decide whether I would take a leap of faith and believe that this was God. Would I have faith in the spiritual eyes and spiritual senses God had given me – more than my natural eyes and natural mind. Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is “the conviction of things not seen” – that is, not seen by your natural faculties. Hebrews is a wonderful chapter on how great men of faith decided to not limit their lives to the natural world. But they believed that the unseen world was superior, that in fact this natural world was a product of the pre-existing, eternal unseen world – “that what is seen was not made out of what was visible”(Heb 11:3). And they lived from that higher reality. They chose to see with their spiritual eyes.
This is a challenge to us all – to live by faith, “the conviction of things not seen” by the natural eye, to truly see and hear, beyond the limits of our natural intellect and senses. This can be a real challenge for many since, in so doing, you have to let go of control and trust God. You have to be prepared to live outside the fixed parameters of your limited understanding. You have to be willing to step into the realm of mystery. This is where you don’t understand everything all the time and you are content to trust Your Father with the unknowns. This is child-like faith that Jesus exhorted us to have.
Whereas the early church embraced mystery, it seems the modern church has largely abandoned it. I enjoy how Bob Kilpatrick interprets the modern-day church’s response to mystery, “Perhaps we don’t like mystery because mystery seems to be God’s way of getting us to surrender… One of my friends said, ‘If I can understand it, I can manage it; and if I can manage it, I can control the outcome.’ This seems to be the goal of some Christians: to fully understand God so they can control the outcome.”
And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’
But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear
Can you notice from this scripture that we have been given the ability to know the mysteries of Kingdom of Heaven? But they are not accessed by the natural man. Another thing that I see here too is that, as you are faithful to embrace these mysteries by faith and steward them, you will be given more!
Two of Jesus’s disciples walked and talked with Him on the road to Emmaus, it was only at the very end of their encounter that the bible said that their eyes were opened and they recognised Him as their beloved Jesus. They said in retrospect, “were not our hearts burning within us”. The first time I heard angels singing, I only realised it the next day when hearing some friends recount their experience of it. I immediately realised I had experienced the same thing, but that in a distinct instant, which I could recall by memory, my natural mind had automatically discounted my experience. On reflection of the memory, I recalled having the immediate instinct that this was the angels that I was hearing, but immediately and automatically, it was as if my brain completely discounted it and I just carried on with what I was attending in front of me as if it never happened. I would never had been conscious of this encounter, if it wasn’t for a conversation with a friend that facilitated an “opening of my eyes”. I can not help but wonder how many instances I have had like that in my life? How many times have I blindly walked past and missed the Glory?
My prayer is, “Oh, that my eyes would be blessed to see, and my ears to hear”!