More than meets the eye

Written by Charles Ekong

26/02/2024

Growing up, I was often told: “There’s more to life than meets the eye”. It was a typical way an older person would insinuate that I wasn’t aware of the whole story in a particular situation. The Bible unequivocally tells us there’s more to life than the material universe. It explicitly states what we see is a product of an unseen realm [Hebrews 11:3]. Like a peek backstage, some individuals in Scripture caught glimpses of the invisible world, which coexists with the natural world and permeates it with such subtlety many are oblivious to its existence [Luke 17:20-21]. Unfortunately, those who ignore or discount the unseen realm invariably miss the whole story, leaving themselves at a disadvantage as they face the vagaries of life.

Genesis 28 captures Jacob’s first encounter with God. Like many of us, Jacob schemed his way through life. He took advantage of his brother and deceived his father, with the aid of his mother, to obtain the coveted covenant blessing passed down from his grandfather until it all eventually caught up with him [Genesis 25:29-34, Genesis 27]. Jacob lived a questionable life, although he knew about his father’s and grandfather’s experiences with God [Genesis 18:19]. So, unsurprisingly, he wasn’t as attuned to the divine as his forefathers until later in his life. Consequently, he was oblivious to significant spiritual activities around him during his first encounter with God [Genesis 28:12-16]. Unfortunately, this continues to happen to many of us today, even Christians, because our spiritual senses are dull [Romans 1:20-21].

For years, I had erroneously assumed encounters were only akin to Peter’s experience on the Mount of Transfiguration [Matthew 17:1-13]. Scripture records that as Peter witnessed Jesus in His luminous glory, he was so bewildered he amusingly suggested building physical tents for their heavenly guests [Matthew 17:4]. Who could blame him? Ezekiel, Isaiah and others had similar overwhelming experiences with their divine encounters [Ezekiel 1:4-28, Isaiah 6:1-7]. Yet the Bible also reveals that God isn’t always in the spectacular. When God met with Elijah as he ran away from Jezebel, we read that God was neither in the earthquake nor fire but in a still, small voice [1 Kings 19:9-18]. At first, it seems strange that the God of the universe would approach a man in such a subtle way. But as John can attest, encountering Jesus as He is can be terrifying, even for His closest friends [Revelation 1:9-20]. Furthermore, the reactions of the Israelites who saw Mount Sinai quake and smoke should probably caution us about craving to see the spectacular [Exodus 20:18-19]. 

God has no interest in exciting us with encounters that don’t produce changes in our lives. So, while some may still experience spectacular encounters, most of us will encounter God in the still, small voice. Neither experience is superior: They’re both supernatural because the God of the universe is revealing Himself and His will to us, and that’s key. He does so because He wants to accomplish something in and through us. The psalmist affirms that while the whole universe and everything in it belong to God, He has given the earth to humankind [Psalm 115:16]. As such, God doesn’t do anything on earth without the participation of a human being, despite His sovereignty [Amos 3:7]. That’s a humbling thought that also demonstrates our value to Him. If God has no favourites, it must mean He’s willing to partner with anyone who makes themselves available to Him on His terms to do His will [Romans 2:11]. However, how many of us actively prioritise this partnership over our desires?

Like me, you’ve probably said or heard people say they want an encounter with God. That’s admirable because such desire suggests the seeker believes God exists [Hebrews 11:6]. Nevertheless, it’s imperative to examine the motive fuelling the desire. We cannot use God to satisfy our self-centred longings and ambitions because He’s the Creator, and we’re His creatures. As such, our heart posture matters if we want to encounter God. Abraham was the first to call God Adonai, a title that means Lord and Master [Genesis 15:2]. By addressing God as Adonai Abraham told God: “You always have the final say in my affairs”. That was an act of submission on Abraham’s part that opened the door to a covenant friendship with God. So, for instance, when it was time for God to judge Sodom and Gomorrah for their iniquity, He consulted Abraham about His decision because of their friendship [Genesis 18:17-18]. Some only saw the fire fall on that fateful day, but Abraham knew the whole story. Such is the reserve of those in covenant with God. He never keeps them in the dark [Psalm 25:14, John 15:15].

I’ve heard and acted on the still, small voice and seen great results. However, there’s much happening in my sphere of influence, catching me unaware. I’ve read enough of my Bible to understand that much of what we see, especially patterns which limit our advancement towards destiny, is sponsored by principalities we cannot see [Ephesians 6:12]. So, we need heaven’s help to overcome these adversarial forces and cause God’s will to manifest in our lives and spheres of influence. This is God’s desire for His children, and He stands ready to partner with us to accomplish it [1 John 5:4-5]. 

Even as a child, I found not knowing the whole story unsettling. Now, I’m even more keenly aware of the consequences of ignorance [Hosea 4:6, Ephesians 4:18]. Consequently, I’m even more desperate not to be in the dark. So, like Abraham, I must set apart Jesus as Lord in my heart [1 Peter 3:15], press into His word to obtain light and listen out prayerfully for the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit to order my steps and guide me into all truth [Psalm 37:23, John 16:13].

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