A Room With a View
Why it’s important to see in the Spirit.
So here’s my question: what do you see when you look out of your window everyday? I’m not talking about your bedroom window. If the eyes are the windows of the soul, what’s the view from your room? Can you see the heavenly realities that surround you…or do the eyes of your heart have their curtains drawn?
Basil Fawlty. Quite possibly the rudest (and funniest) hotel owner in television history. There’s a famous scene in the British comedy series ‘Fawlty Towers’ in which he stars, where Basil talks to a disgruntled hotel guest. When she complains about the lack of sea view from her seaside room window, he remarks explosively:
“What did you expect to see from a Torquay hotel window!? Herds of wildebeest roaming majestically across the African plains?”
Rude. But funny.
So I’ll ask again, if the eyes are the windows of the soul, what’s the view from your room? In the Spirit, do you see herds of wildebeest roaming majestically across the plains of Africa, or just a pair of stripy curtains?
You have eyes in your heart
It all depends on the eyes of your heart. The Bible has a lot to say about the eyes of our heart. In one of Paul’s apostolic letters he prays for the Ephesian church, “I pray also that theeyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Ephesians 1: 17-19 NIV)
So what do the eyes of our heart do? Why are they important?
Well, because they are spiritual eyes, they can see into the spiritual realm that is invisible to our natural eyes. And seeing what’s happening in the Spirit is rather important, as that’s what we’re supposed to be focused on:
"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
(2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV)
"He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God…For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him."
(Colossians 1:16 NIV)
“By faith he (Moses) left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who isinvisible.” (Hebrews 11.27 NIV)
This is the part where I’m like a two-year-old trying to explain Astrophysics.
What we hear, see, feel and touch on a daily basis is real (unless you’re playing virtual reality games… “Put the Candy Crush down and back away from your tablet”). But there’s a greater reality: what’s happening in the dimension of the Spirit.
Or perhaps this is a better way to put it; it’s more important to see what’s happening in the Spirit realm than in the natural realm. Because the Spirit realm trumps the natural realm. It is eternal. What we experience is temporal but what God is doing is from and to eternity.
Seeing as I’m getting way out of my depth with this stuff, it’s a good thing there’s a story in the Bible that brilliantly illustrates why it’s so much better to see with the eyes of your heart.
Back in 2 Kings 6, the prophet Elisha keeps revealing the king of Aram’s military strategy to the king of Israel and foiling his plans. The king of Aram gets fed up so he decides to deal with this pesky prophet once and for all. The story continues in 2 Kings 6 v 14:
“Then he (the king of Aram) sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked. (NIV)
Elisha’s servant is totally freaked out to wake up one morning and see they’re surrounded by a mean-looking army that’s out to get them.
But when Elisha looks out the window he sees quite a different view. Not herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically across the plains, but something infinitely better:
“Don’t be afraid”, the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6 v 14-17 NIV)
“We really need to see through the eyes of our heart into the spiritual realities of God around us.”
Well, what a difference that made! When the reality of the fiery angelic host encamped around them was revealed to the servant, he was able to go back to eating corn flakes and listening to the radio without even the slightest fear of imminent disembowelment.
Open my eyes so I can see
Ahhh, wouldn’t you like to have your eyes opened like that – to see the angels around you (Psalm 91:11)? To see what God is doing? To be aware of the presence of God himself with you all day, every day, hemming you in behind and before, with his hand on your shoulder (Psalm 139 v5, v10)? We’d probably freak out a bit less.
We really need to see through the eyes of our heart into the spiritual realities of God around us. But sometimes it’s like we have a pair of stripy curtains drawn in front of our spiritual eyes. We are looking in the right direction, but we still can’t see the view. Not until someone opens the curtains.
That someone is the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation. In the same prayer in which he prays for the Ephesians to have their eyes opened, Paul first prays this:
“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so you may know him better.”
In the Greek, the word for revelation is ‘apokalypsis.’ The root meaning of apokalypsis is ‘to lay bare or to disclose the truth.’ The Spirit of God is the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation (see Isaiah 11: 2) and wonderfully, when we ask Him, he will draw back the curtains and show us the truth of what is going on outside the window. Just like he did for Elisha’s servant.
Paul prays that the Ephesian church folks would have the eyes of their heart ‘enlightened.’ They already had the equipment (spiritual eyes), it’s just they needed the Spirit of wisdom and revelation to show them how to use it (illuminate what they were seeing). The word that Paul uses for enlightened is ‘photizo’ – which means to light up, to bring something to light, to give understanding to, to bring focus to. To me it carries the same sense as “I’ve seen the light.” It makes me think of that same unveiling, curtain-pulling back, lightbulb moment you experienced when Holy Spirit revealed the truth of the gospel to you:
“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4 v 3-4 NIV)
The light of the gospel shines brightly, but there is a veil over unbelievers so they can’t perceive the light until Holy Spirit pulls back the curtain. As believers, we are fully saved and eternally enlightened by the truth of the gospel. But it seems like some aspects of the invisible realm can still be veiled to us even after salvation and we need to press into Holy Spirit and ask him to unveil our spiritual eyes so we can really see. Paul prayed that for the Ephesian church – and kept praying it for them…so he must have felt it was essential.
“Ta-dah!” says the Spirit of Revelation. “Aha!” You say.
The Spirit of Revelation gives you lightbulb moments. One minute the angels surrounding Elisha’s servant were hidden from his eyes, then the curtain was pulled back and he really saw the truth of what was going on. “Ta-dah!” says the Spirit of Revelation. “Aha!” You say. That’s what revelation feels like – I love that feeling. One minute you totally don’t get it, the next minute the veil over your understanding is pulled aside and you see. Brilliant.
If the curtain analogy isn’t helping you, think of it another way. Seeing with the eyes of your heart is a bit like riding a bike. At first you can’t get the hang of it at all, it looks impossible even though everyone else seems to be doing it effortlessly. But you keep going, because cycling looks fun and you want to be able to do it. And then one wonderful day, you get it. And from them on you instinctively know how to position yourself to be able to balance. Sure there are a few wobbles, but you know what it feels like when you’re doing it right.
“Wisdom from God often comes as a small thought, easily missed, that once you seize it, can open incredible doors in your life.”
If you’re not already overwhelmed with curtains and wildebeest and bikes, I’d like to introduce a final analogy. It’s a classic – the key. Wisdom gives you keys to unlock situations in your life. Anywhere in life where you’re staring at what appears to be a locked door – ask for wisdom. Call out for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. Wisdom is the little spontaneous thought that opens up the whole seemingly impossible situation. Some situations require many keys, but God’s Spirit of wisdom will guide you through, putting the right key for the right door in your hand at the right time. He’ll guide you through the series of doors to reach your destination. A key is such a small object, yet it can open a mighty door. Wisdom from God often comes as a small thought, easily missed, that once you seize it, can open incredible doors in your life.
Asking is the key to finding keys
No wonder Proverbs is packed full of encouragements to get wisdom, to cry out for wisdom, to value wisdom more than rubies. And that’s the key to finding the keys – ASK. Ask God for the keys you need, for the wisdom you need. Ask him out loud or write it down. Because in the asking, you become more awake and alert to the answer. When we’re not expecting God to help us with our locked door situation, we can miss it when he puts the key in our hand. We can miss that inspired but small and spontaneous thought. But when we ask and we keep on asking, it keeps us alert so when God’s Spirit gives us divine intelligence to crack the case wide open…we won’t miss it.
“Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost you all you have, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7 NIV)
“Blessed is the man who listens to me (wisdom), watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For whoever finds me, finds life and receives favour from the Lord.” (Proverbs 8.34-35 NIV)
Yes, God knows exactly what we need, but he wants us to ask Him for it. Proverbs tells us to pursue wisdom, call out for it. Because in the act of asking it creates a space in us, it creates a place for him to give us the answer. Ask then, believing he longs to give you the keys and to pull back the curtains, because he does. You don’t have to ask because he’s not willing. You have to ask because asking puts you in relationship with him. That’s how we build relationship, we express our need to him and we trust him to respond with something good. Father doesn’t want us to ask him for stuff for his benefit. In the asking we are benefitted, and in his answering we are benefitted. It’s a win-win situation.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, he who seeks finds and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7: 7-8 NIV)
Glorious Father, I’m asking (and I’ll keep asking) you to give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so I may know you better. I pray also that the eyes of my heart may be enlightened. And as Elisha’s servant had his eyes opened, I ask, O God of the angel armies, open my eyes so that I may see.