“Hearing is orders of magnitude from listening.”
Believing in an unseen world never posed a problem for me. I operate on the assumption that I don’t know everything. By extension, I am convinced I don’t see everything there is to see. Ask detectives what they think about this concept, and they’ll tell you: ask a dozen witnesses for descriptions of the suspect, and you’ll get a dozen different descriptions.
We can’t agree on what is plainly manifest to us; how then have we become so dependent upon visual images for our daily dose of reality?
Then there’s the strong possibility that what we see isn’t half the story. We watch documentaries exposing “behind the scenes” actions, blowing the lid off a scandal.
But what about the unseen forces in our own lives?
I developed my fascination with the unseen world in biology class. Youth is a time of insatiable curiosity if we’re fortunate. I didn’t live in a materially wealthy household, and I’m grateful. We usually had what we needed. But to get that substance, we worked hard — to cultivate crops, care for livestock — and we used a lot of faith, believing the plant would manifest from seed and multiply, the calves would be born healthy. Jesus spoke of this when he spoke of the principle of the unseen manifesting the seen world. “The kingdom of God is as if a man plants seed into the ground, and he goes to bed and rises in the morning, and the plant springs up, and he knows not how.”
Much of the rules of warfare simulate the biological processes that go on every day –unseen — in our bodies. Foreign Invaders enter the bloodstream. T cells and B cells rise up in defense against these foreign bodies. Viruses attack cells, moving in and forcing cells to operate under a new regime. Parasites lay siege until the host is vanquished.
Why, then, is it so difficult for us to believe in that which we cannot see? Microscopic worlds dominate the seen world every minute. That has never been more clear than now. As I write this, the world is battling the first global pandemic. Lives, economies, families, livelihoods hang in the balance. All because of a strange virus with RNA replication;. a microscopic organism for which humans have no microscopic defenses holds the world captive.
If you ask Elon Musk or Stephen Hawking, they would say that we’re living in a simulation. The unseen world is not only controlling this one, but something in another dimension is manipulating reality, to the degree that we live in an illusion. The Apostle Paul told us that we “see through a glass darkly, ” but when we enter the Kingdom of Heaven, we will see “face to face.” John, the writer of Revelation and the Gospel account, said our ability to see the Messiah, Jesus, cannot happen until we become “as He is” in manifestation — in other words, in His dimension. Seeing, then, is a problem of dimensionality.
When we grow impatient with others, it’s important to remember our own blindness. We are all living in this present darkness, and religion won’t save us. What we need is the ability to see what God sees. This is, in part, the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives; however, most churches behave as if the Holy Spirit is a loud, obnoxious uncle who must be controlled or else the family reunion will turn disastrous.
I always worried that if I were too embarrassed to entertain the Holy Spirit, He might be too ashamed to let me into His Family Reunion.
Learning to discern the still, small voice of the Good Shepherd is the first priority and the true business of the believer. This takes time, and as an added benefit, gives us less time to criticize others. For what we see of others’ lives is only a fraction of the unseen forces operating beneath the surface. We have grown up in a material world, dominated by what we see. We judge others by our own experiences — worse, by a voyeurism courtesy of media images of “reality.” We believe in our best intentions and judge others by their results. We overreact to our children’s behavior because we think that will ensure they won’t turn out like us. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. It is the mirror image of ourselves that most often sets us off.
God is doing a work in an unseen realm. It is not visible on a daily basis but it is “at hand,” “within you,” and manifest just as the plant breaks ground from the seed in that miracle of new birth.
It is possible that more people were late to work on 9/11 than any morning in the history of the World Trade Center. After the event, hundreds of stories surfaced, many along the same lines: something strange happened that never happened before and they didn’t make it into the building. Children complained of hunger, begging to stop and get breakfast. People overslept. Traffic tie-ups on trusted routes caused delay. In some cases, people felt compelled to wait and trusted the instinct. At least two reported hearing an internal voice telling them to stay home.
What was the difference? Why didn’t everyone get the message?
Because we must train our will to surrender to His will, especially if we don’t understand. His ways are not our ways. He sees the end – unseen by us — from the beginning. Hearing is orders of magnitude from listening. I can listen and mock. I can dismiss, while listening. But hearing comes from discernment and rightly dividing the Word of Truth. Hearing has one fruit: obedience. Obedience in spite of what our friends will think. In spite of how crazy it seems. Often, the instructions go against tradition. How many people dismissed the small voice, thinking, “But my boss expects me to be on time.” Even then, the planes were on the way. Within an hour, there was no more work. Within an hour, 3000 people were dead.
If we are in a simulation, it follows that we are easily deluded. The miracle of God’s Kingdom is that He resides in us if we have trusted Him. And He speaks to us every minute of every day. It is time we stop relying on our lying eyes. And hear.