It was Easter and I was at Uni. I was walking home from an event along a leafy street when suddenly, I felt Him. Suddenly, I knew without question that Jesus was walking right alongside me. I felt it so strongly I had to walk almost in the hedge to make sure He didn’t bump into the trees planted in the pavement.
I’ve never doubted the existence of angels or demons, and when praying for someone or listening to God for a situation I’ve often had pictures or words form in my mind. But these pictures have always been of things in the natural world around me and never the spiritual realm beyond it. I once thought I could see the glory of God when present at an evening worship meeting at a Christian conference, but this meeting with Jesus on the road was probably the strongest interaction I had ever had with the unseen.
More recently, though, I have come to understand that for some people, interaction with the spiritual realm is a daily reality, and not unusual at all. Seers (see-ers) are a kind of prophet and part of the rich and varied tapestry of gifted people who serve Jesus in the Kingdom of God*. But that all sounds rather over-dramatic and inaccessible for someone like me.
However, I’ve discovered that that might not be the case. One of the core practices in Immanuel (meaning ‘God with us’) prayer is to look around with your spiritual eyes and see where Jesus is in the room. They expect everyone to be able to do it, calling it using your ‘sanctified imagination’, so it does, to an extent, feel like making it up. But the more I do it, the more I find it is no flight of fancy. As instructed, I push in to see what Jesus is wearing, what his posture is, and what I read in his face, and so often I’m surprised by what I find. He is so clever, so funny, so understanding, so gracious and so good.
One time, when I was struggling with the idea that I could ever see him, Jesus was hiding (rather badly) behind a curtain in the room I was in. After a while he stopped his charade and came and sat next to me. He was showing me that he isn’t really hiding from me – he has given me eyes to see. Another time when I was particularly worried for a friend, he simply bent down (he was perched high on my desk) and reminded me of his goodness. It was exactly what I needed to hear.
I’ve been struck by the passage in John 14 where Jesus promises the Holy Spirit. There’s an intriguing bit in verses 18-21:
18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me any more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
That last bit in verse 21 – ‘show myself’ is the Greek word ‘emphanizo’ which means to manifest, to appear, to come to view. So Jesus is in us by the Holy Spirit, but it isn’t just in-dwelling; there is also an element of seeing with our eyes his very person wherever we are.
I wish I could see him more easily and more often – and that comes with remembering to do it, and practice. I know that if I learn to keep him ever before me, then I will know what mood he is in, what he is up to, and what I can join in with. However, I know that he loves the game – he loves me trying, he loves me pursuing him, and he loves to be found.
Spend some time worshipping Jesus – choose a song focused on him, or read a story about him in the Gospels and think about what that story says about his character. Then ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you look around the room you’re in – for some people it works better with eyes closed, others like to have them open. Get a sense of where he is and what he is doing. Push in further – what is he wearing? You could even ask him why! Then look for his face – what do you read in it? Make sure what you see is in line with his character as you find it in Scripture. Enjoy him. Talk to him. See what he has for you today.
*For an excellent book by a Seer about seeing in the Spirit, try ‘Seeing Beyond’ by Sarah-Jane Biggart.
Cover photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
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