Further up and further in – the words of C. S. Lewis. That is where we’re being called, you know.
Looking at that mountain, we somehow get the vague sensation that this journey just might get a little dangerous.
And it will. Deep inside, we know this.
Now, if you’re like me, you just might question whether you’re ready for this. That’s probably a good question for us to ask ourselves. In order to survive, we really need to see what we’re up against.
But before we can fully understand we need to learn to see things in a different way.
In the movie, Jesus of Nazareth, there is a telling scene. Judas talks about how the Temple scribe has “an open mind.” Jesus admonishes Judas and tells him, “Open your heart, Judas, not your mind.”
We have to learn to “see” with our hearts.
So just how do we do this? Well, I can’t speak for you – but I can share what works for me.
I’ve always felt that the mind was sort of a “gatekeeper” into our beliefs and into our hearts. This series of posts is going to introduce three simple concepts that, if you’ll really get your mind around them, can radically change the way you “see” with your heart.
I’ve borrowed these concepts from the writings of John Eldredge. We get a quick overview in his book Epic, and he further develops these concepts in Waking the Dead. Now, please don’t misinterpret me – I’m not some blind follower of anyone. Eldredge’s writing stirs something – something long hidden, buried deep away.
I have no intention of reprinting his work here. Rather, I want to share how these concepts have impacted me and helped me to go “further up and further in.”
The Big Idea, Part 1:
Things Are Not What They Seem
At first, this sounds so obvious. If you’re like me, you probably thought to yourself – I already knew that.
But just knowing it isn’t enough. Say it out loud. Things are not what they seem. Remember it. Commit it to heart.
The reality that there is more going on than meets the eye is evident throughout Scripture.
What appears to be “just another serpent” is the sworn enemy of God – and a major part of his agenda is to destroy YOU.
What appears to be “just a baby” in a manger is the Lion of Judah, the Son of God, the Savior of mankind, come to do battle on our behalf, to destroy the works of the devil.
What appears to be “an angel of light” may, in point of fact, be Satan.
And from our own experience, as well as Scripture, we see people who appear “godly” that are anything but godly on the inside.
Everywhere we look we see people “peddling” another gospel – throwing in just enough references to Jesus to make it sound authentic.
People calling themselves “prophets” who would have us believe that they get more “prophetic words” from God, every single day, than are contained in all of Scripture. But they’ll be happy to sell you a word.
And what about prayer - the ones that go unanswered. Ever hear this one – “I guess it must be God’s will.” Oh, really?
What about that part of the Lord’s prayer, spoken by Jesus, that goes “Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven?” Did you ever stop to really think what this implies? That maybe, just maybe, God’s will is somehow not being done as it should?
Now, before you fire off at me, understand this – I am not questioning whether God’s will ultimately prevails. Remember your Scripture – the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
Not was under control of the evil one - is under control of the evil one.
God’s plans will come to pass. In the meantime, though, there is an evil that works constantly to hinder, to thwart, to delay this.
It is an evil that never sleeps, that is relentless and cunning beyond our limited ability to imagine. An evil that is constantly and tirelessly hunting us, to steal, to kill and destroy us.
Read the book of Daniel, Chapter 10. In it, Daniel prays – and doesn’t get an answer. For 3 weeks he fasts. And then, an angel shows up. The angel tells Daniel that he was sent with an answer to his prayer on the first day that Daniel prayed.
So what’s up with this? Where has he been? Did he take a vacation on the way?
Most of the Christians we know today would probably read a book on the silence of God. Or, maybe your pastor has preached about “when God doesn’t answer.”
Neither of these would give us the real answer.
The real answer is more than a little disturbing.
The angel was intercepted by the Prince of Persia. A powerful demonic spirit. And he’s been in a fight for those 3 weeks. Hand to hand combat. Michael, the archangel, is fighting with him now, so that the angel could deliver the answer to Daniel.
The angel has to leave quickly, to rejoin the fight. And then, he has another fight waiting after this one.
So much for unanswered prayer.
Following the Resurrection, Jesus appears to some of His disciples on the Emmaus Road. And they don’t recognize Him.
After living with Him! It’s only when He blessed the bread that their eyes are suddenly opened. Later, as they recalled the incident, they said “were our hearts not burning” as He spoke.
Something was speaking to their hearts, not to their reasoning.
Given the nature of our lives today, just where do you think that puts us?
At best, we’re stumbling along in the dark, surrounded by the densest fog ever known. As John Eldredge puts it – awake and alert times zero.
Is it any wonder that we get blindsided?
Ours is a world consisting of two parts, the seen and the unseen. Scripture commands us to give more weight, more attention to spiritual matters (the unseen) than to the natural (the seen) world.
And just why do you think that is?
Could it be, possibly, that the reality of this unseen world, in fact, influences our natural world in ways that we’ve never considered?
Inside this dense fog that surrounds us there is a reality that is hidden from our view. This is a reality that our feeble (yes, feeble) human minds cannot grasp, a reality that our logic and our reasoning cannot begin to comprehend.
It can only be seen through the eyes of our hearts.
Things are not what they seem.