SATURDAY READING: Behind The Veil Of Heaven by Bruce Wilkinson

Behind The Veil Of Heaven by Bruce Wilkinson

From You Were Born For This

You were born to be a living link between Heaven and Earth.

If I were to ask you what you think is happening in Heaven at this very moment, what would you say?

I’ve asked this simple question of religious and nonreligious, educated and uneducated persons the world over.  And since most people believe Heaven exists, ideas tend to come quickly.

People mention angels, harps, God sitting on his throne, a lot of praise and worship.  Others mention higher states of consciousness.  But little involving action comes to mind.

“Any committee meetings going on up there?” I ask.  “Strategy planning sessions?”

Folks laugh.  They think I’m kidding.

“How about God?  Does he do any work?  What about God asking for opinions on important matters?  Does Heaven have anything like an agenda for the day?”

People don’t think so.

I love watching their faces when I ask questions like these.  (They do sound a bit far-fetched, don’t they?)  But the responses I hear are quite revealing.  The fact is, most people think God just listens to worship songs.  Whenever I ask, “And what does God do when he’s finished listening?” all I get is blank stares.  To them, Heaven today is nice but not very exciting.  It’s a place on hold, a celestial waiting room for angels and great-aunts.  And whatever does happen there doesn’t really affect what happens on Earth.

But what if you discovered that the spiritual realm of Heaven and the material realm of Earth are actively linked in billions of ways?  What if you discovered that God is intently at work right now on tasks that matter greatly to him and that he’s constantly looking for volunteers to help him?

Earlier in this book we made some promises: You were born to deliver miracles for God.  You can learn how to partner with Heaven to do God’s supernatural work on Earth.  And it can happen today.

If these possibilities intrigue you, we will show you something astonishing: God wants you to experience a miracle today even more than you do.  To show you why that’s true, I want to pull back the veil of Heaven to reveal what God is doing right now to connect with people in need on Earth.

Snorkel vision

If you’ve ever snorkeled in tropical waters, you know that if you get it just right, you can see one world through the bottom half of your mask, another through the top.  Bottom half – a watery world of coral and colored fish.  Top half – sky.

In 1 Kings 22 we get to have a similar experience.  One verse shows what’s happening on Earth.  The next verse shows what’s happening at the very same time in the courts of Heaven.  I think you’ll see evidence of a Heaven-Earth connection that will revolutionize how you view your world.

What’s happening on Earth, in this Bible chapter, is a turning point in the history of Israel.  A ruthless and corrupt king named Ahab is trying to make a decision.  Should he go into battle against Syria or not?  His advisers – all of whom worship idols, not God – have told him to march north to battle because victory is guaranteed.  But Ahab wavers.  He wants confirmation from an outside source.  On the recommendation of a friend, a prophet of God is brought in.

His name is Micaiah.  Ahab soon learns that God has granted this little-known man snorkel vision: while living on Earth, he can see directly into Heaven.  He actually watches and listens as God responds in real time to Ahab’s question.

Let’s watch with him:

I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of Heaven standing by, on his right hand and on his left.  And the Lord said, “Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?”  So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner.  Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, and said, “I will persuade him.”  The Lord said to him, “In what way?”

Do you see what’s happening in Heaven?  It could almost be called a business meeting.  God wants to rescue Israel from its evil king, but he’s open to ideas on how to accomplish it.

When the spirit (or angel) proposes to mislead the king through his advisers, God not only approves but promises him success.

On Earth Micaiah warns Ahab that his advisers have been mislead.  But the king decides to listen to them anyway.  He confidently marches north against Syria, only to die in battle.

But wait, you might be thinking.  How does this historical incident help me know how to partner with Heaven to deliver a miracle?

Let me show you.  Since every miracle from God begins in the supernatural realm, we first need to find out how Heaven works.  Which brings us back to Micaiah.  His extraordinary glimpse behind the veil of Heaven shows a clear connection between events in Heaven and simultaneous events on Earth.

And it reveals two surprising insights about what God is doing right now that could completely change how you think about your miracle potential.  They did for me.

Let’s start with the first one.

God’s to-do list

Could it be that God has work to do and that he is working right now on an agenda – a kind of daily to-do list?

The prophet sees that God is surrounded by “all the host of Heaven standing by, on his right hand and on his left.”  We know from elsewhere in scripture that the hosts of Heaven are angels numbering in the millions.  At least in this scene, not one of them is singing.  It looks to me as though they’ve been summoned to a meeting with God.  He wants to influence someone’s day on Earth, and believe it or not, he’s open to ideas on how to accomplish it.

While most of us think God is still resting from the demands of creation week, the Bible shows another picture.  He has a real-time, right-now agenda on Earth.

God with a to-do list?  The implications are profound.

But Jesus showed that it’s true.  To those who criticized him for healing a man on the Sabbath, Jesus said: “My Father is always at his work to the very day, and I, too, am working.”  Jesus clearly revealed that his work of healing on the Sabbath was a continuation of God’s ongoing work on Earth.

Then Jesus went on to describe an active partnership.

The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do; for whatever he does, the son also does in like manner.  For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all things that he himself does.

So all during Jesus’s lifetime on Earth, Father and Son were hard at work on Heaven’s to-do list.  God intervened in human affairs, and amazing miracles resulted!

Since Jesus is no longer on Earth, we need to ask whom God is looking to now to complete his agenda.  Micaiah’s glimpse behind the veil can change how we think about that too.

Let’s revisit the scene in more detail.

Inside Mission Central

The prophet sees that God is holding a meeting.  The hosts have been assembled for a strategy session.  “Who will persuade Ahab to go up to war?” God wants to know.  It sure sounds like he’s looking for a volunteer.  And he’s obviously open to suggestions.  As Micaiah watches, an angel comes forward to volunteer.  He says he has a strategy in mind that will persuade Ahab.

“In what way?” God asks.

When the angel tells God his plans, God approves and sends him on his way.  “You shall persuade him, and also prevail,” he says.  “Go out and do so.”

Which brings us to the second surprise:

Could it be that Heaven today should be thought of as Mission Central, where God is actively looking for and sending out volunteers who will carry out his agenda on Earth?

We know from scripture that God has three options for getting something done on Earth:

  • In person, as when he dictated the Ten Commandments to Moses
  • By an angel, as when the angel Gabriel announced the upcoming birth of Jesus to Mary

But from scripture and history, we must conclude that God has chosen these options only rarely.  That leaves…

  • Through a human being

Think about it, today, tomorrow, and the day after, our all-powerful God will choose to work through ordinary people to get done on Earth what he has decided in Heaven that he wants to do.

If God is so intent on finding volunteers, it only makes sense that he would communicate his wishes to human beings everywhere.  It only makes sense that Mission Central would be sending out requests – miracle missions included – to people all over the world all the time.

But that can’t be true.

Or can it?

Signals sent, signals not received

When The Prayer of Jabez was still at the top of the New York Times bestseller list, I was invited to speak in Hollywood at an unusual gathering of movie-industry insiders.  The film director who called said that his colleagues – most of them agnostics or atheists – couldn’t figure out why a book on prayer was outselling Stephen King and John Grisham.

“I’ve been working in this business for twenty-six years, and this is the first time an evangelical Christian has been invited to speak,” he said when he picked me up at my hotel.  “I’m guessing the crowd will be small – maybe twenty or thirty.”

But God was up to something.  We walked into a packed house of at least four hundred.  I has just started explaining the second part of the Jabez prayer – “Lord, expand my territory!” – when a man in the back interrupted.

“I have a question!” he shouted.  “Do you really believe that prayer works?”

“Yes, sir, I do.”

“Every time?”

“Yes.”

“Get out!”  He clearly wasn’t buying it.

“Let me ask all of you a question,” I said.  “How many of you would say that at least once in your life you were clearly nudged to stop and help a person but you didn’t?”

Almost everyone in the room raised a hand.  Instinctively they recognized that they had been nudged to act by a supernatural force.

“That’s why God always answers the prayer of a person who wants to do more for him,” I told my audience.  “Because God nudges everyone, and almost everyone says, No!”

Are you beginning to see why you can be a part of as many miracles for God as you want?  Everywhere around us God has urgent work to be done.  At all times he is looking for volunteers who will partner with him.  And he isn’t just passively on the lookout; he is actively, constantly, and passionately sending out requests.

Miracle agents can develop new sensitivities – or rediscover buried ones – that will help them stay in tune with God’s intentions.  You can learn miracle-specific signals from God, from others, and even from yourself.  By learning to read the signs effectively, you’ll learn to be a living link between Heaven and Earth, recognizing a miracle opportunity right in front of your where others see nothing at all.

By now, you might be wondering why anyone would miss Heaven-sent invitations to a miracle.  In my experience, longtime Christians are especially susceptible to missing them because of a common misunderstanding about God’s motivations.

I suffered from it for years.

Praying (fervently) for the wrong thing

Early one morning I was asking again for God to do a miracle in the life of a friend.  My part (I thought) was to persuade God to answer in a big way.  Specifically, I was earnestly asking God to use me to deliver a miracle in my friend’s life.  What could I do or say that would change God’s mind and release his favor?  What kind of intensity or desperation would it take on my part to get God’s attention?

Suddenly, in midprayer, I felt compelled not to say another word.  I felt drawn instead to reflect silently on the assumptions hiding underneath my prayers.  What did they tell me that I really believed about God and his desire to act?  What did they reveal about how I thought God was hearing my prayers at that very moment?

It didn’t take long for my actual theology of prayer to rise to the surface.  Clearly, I believed that God was reluctant to do miracles.  That’s why I needed to try to persuade him – give him reason after reason, day after day, so he would finally relent and decide to act.

In the middle of these thoughts a familiar Bible verse came to mind:

The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole Earth, to show himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to him.

Now, I’d always understood this verse to mean that God wants loyal servants.  And of course he does.  But for the first time I read these words for what they showed me about what God is doing in Heaven right now.  Do you see it?

God is not reluctant or uninterested when it comes to showing himself strong.   Rather, he is looking “to and fro throughout the whole Earth” for people who are loyal to him.  Why?  So he can reveal his supernatural power in their lives!

Let me summarize what we’ve learned so far about partnering with Heaven for a miracle:

  • God is constantly at work in supernatural ways in our world, and he has much he wants to get done.
  • God is actively looking for loyal partners – people who consistently care about what he cares about.
  • God is regularly nudging people to respond, but most people miss his intentions or simply say, No.

What would it look like in your life if you started saying, Yes?  Let me share a family story.

A network of nudges

When our daughter Jessica was a teenager, she went with a group on a short-term mission to Europe.  Their purpose was to assist local churches in youth outreach, but along the way Jessica found that her most important ministry seemed to be with Leila, a girl her own age in the group.  As the two girls become friends, Leila began to confide in Jessica.  A family member was sexually molesting her, she said.  Jessica was the first person she felt safe enough around to reveal what was going on.

Jessica listened in shock.  “What’s happening is not your fault,” she told Leila.  She made Leila promise to get help immediately.

Not long after Jessica returned to the States, our family moved to Africa.  But Jessica and Leila stayed in touch by phone and email.  Even though Leila’s circumstances didn’t improve, she resisted getting help.  Then she seemed to drop off the map.

One afternoon Jessica sensed strongly that Leila’s situation had reached a crisis point.  She couldn’t explain the feeling – she and Leila had been out of touch for a month.  But Jessica decided to act.  She called and emailed a network of Christian friends, including some friends from the mission trip.  Her urgent message read: “I don’t know why, but I think something terrible is happening with my friend Leila.  Please pray for her right now!”  Jessica still had no idea whether Leila was okay or not, but she had decided to act on the leading she felt.

The next day, a friend called with news.  Two hours after her friends had started to pray, Leila had made a serious attempt to take her life.  Thankfully, she hadn’t succeeded.

“I’m so glad I acted on what I sensed God was telling me,” says Jessica.  “I believe Leila is alive today because of the desperate prayers of friends.  Her narrow escape convinced her to break the silence and get the help she needed.

Today Leila is full of life and happily married.

What do you think could have happened if Jessica had decided not to follow that nudge from Heaven?  My second story illustrates what can happen when people ignore what God wants.

The consequence on the corner

A few years ago our creative team was shooting a feature film in South Africa in the dead of winter.  The story centered on a Zulu boy who became orphaned when his parents and relatives all died of HIV/AIDS.  To survive, the boy left his village and took up a hardscrabble existence fending for himself on the streets of Johannesburg.

One bitterly cold winter morning our crew was scheduled to begin shooting at five o’clock on a particular street corner.  It was so cold that production assistants had arrived early to set up tents with gas heaters where we could keep ourselves warm.  We all showed up at the set wearing scarves, gloves, and heavy coats – not the attire that usually comes to mind when people think of Africa.

By the time I arrived that morning, several police cars were already there, emergency lights flashing.  The film team looked as if they were in the depths of despair.  I asked the director of photography what was going on.

“I can’t believe this,” he told me somberly.  “Last night, right across the street, a homeless boy froze to death.  They found him this morning.”

I was stunned.  Everybody was.  Then, as we contemplated what had happened, the terrible irony set in.

Here we were to shoot a scene about a homeless orphan, and right across the street a homeless orphan boy died because no one gave him a blanket or a coat.  No one gave him shelter.

Finally I said to the crew, “You don’t think that boy’s death reflects God’s heart, do you?”

Based on what you’ve learned, what do you think?  Wouldn’t you say that God heard the prayers of that little orphan boy, decided to intervene, and began nudging all kinds of people toward him?  But no one came.

That would mean what God urgently wanted to happen on that winter morning in Johannesburg didn’t happen.  Someone – perhaps dozens of people in different places during the preceding days – said, No, to Heaven’s nudge.

A door marked, “Yes”

Each of us was created for nothing less than a miracle-filled life.  It’s not a special existence reserved for the select few but is for everyone.

We’ve seen that a life marked by the miraculous is not just possible, not even just desirable, but is at the very center of God’s will for every one of us.  When we settle for less, our lives lose delight, fulfillment, and purpose.  Personal needs of people we  meet get overlooked.  Extreme needs in our communities and around the world go unmet.  When a whole generation settles for less, the character and motives of God get called into question.  His shining presence seems to fade in the world.

But you were born to be a living link between Heaven and Earth.  You were born to be God’s ambassador in the Everyday Miracle Territory, making him visible in unforgettable ways.

The miraculous touches of Heaven that God wants to accomplish will come in all sizes, but mostly they’ll be of the personal, everyday sort that you can be a part of.  Why?  Because God passionately desires to show himself strong for you and through you, and because every person you meet has a significant need that only God can meet.

One of the simplest and the most profound ways of living a life of predictable miracles is to find a door marked, “Yes.”

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