Revelation is a curious occurrence. The word itself means a disclosure of information by a supernatural source in most dictionaries. As I played with the word, I broke it into two parts, ‘revel’ and ‘elation’ because they describe how I feel when the Lord shows me something I did not know before. I’m aware that the word’s root is about revealing but I don’t believe that all word constructions are accidental. I revel in the revelatory.
Though God has opened up scriptures or whispered pieces of wisdom to my spirit, a particular revelation comes to mind when I go through my catalog of spiritual happenings. I attended a conference at one point of a controversial faith healer. A couple people I knew were healed that night and the speaker was certainly charismatic in the sense of having quite a personal presence. But when he prayed for the attendees that God would open the eyes of their hearts, I had a revelation.
A spiritual revelation, for me at least, is a whole body experience. I don’t mean that I shake and bake like a good Pentecostal. I just mean that disclosure from God is not just an intellectual event. I love intellectual episodes, making connections and discovering new vistas of knowledge, but it isn’t the same. A revelatory experience isn’t merely emotional either, though emotions happen. But then, emotions always happen, at least for me now that I have built a bridge between my head and my heart.
But there is the issue for American Christians. We are compartmentalists. We take the words, ‘body’, ‘soul’, and ‘spirit’ and carefully divvy them up in a to-go container in their individual compartments. But for the Old Testament writers, the visualization was a bit different. When an American says the word, ‘heart’, he or she means the seat of the emotions. All the various well-meaning Bible studies on the so-called wickedness of the heart ignore the idea that for the Jew, the heart was the stand-in for the whole inner being of a man or a woman. Thoughts, feelings, mind, heart and will were all a part of the same system.
And that system is made new by the same power that raised Christ from the dead. Our hearts in the New Testament is the seat of the conscience, or Jesus living in us, making our hearts new and tender. Now don’t get me wrong. I believe we are depraved without the acceptance of the Holy Spirit and the acknowledgment of Jesus’ work on the cross. Well, at least I am aware that I am lost utterly without Jesus.
But the eyes of my heart opened that night. I felt it on every level of my being. I feel it now. The funny thing about revelation, though, is that it is so hard to share. How many times have I gotten some insight from God and I try to share it with others? Their response is barely lukewarm. The worst response is fury. I have gotten that a few times.
I remember telling a woman how awesome repentance is. I really meant it. For me, repentance is spilling out all the debris that gathers in my soul and God comes in and heals my mind and emotions. No matter how hard I tried to explain repentance as this gift that is without condemnation but with the power to change the parts of ourselves that are damaged or broken, the more she heard me tell her she was a bad person. Open mouth, insert foot. The whole encounter was an exercise in futility.
My mother had a similar experience. She tried to explain how wonderful God’s forgiveness was to a woman who, well to be blunt, had harmed some people through her selfish actions. The woman could not understand what my mother was saying. Instead, she became convinced that my mother was confessing that she had an abortion (which she most definitely had not).
And yet sometimes revelation can be shared. If it were not so, then all the Christian bloggers would fall silent. So how to explain this moment of revelation at the conference of an evangelist I’m not sure I even like?
To open the eyes of your heart means that you open yourself up to God first and then others in a new way. In that moment, I realized my heart had been closed before. Remember the heart is not merely the seat of emotion. I loved people. I was empathetic in the extreme. But at the same time, I limited what I was willing to see, willing to experience, even when it came to the presence of God.
Moreover, a life which contains a past filled with pain can cut itself off from so much of the experience of living. My soul lived a half-life, peeking at the hard things only occasionally. But in that moment, I said ‘yes’ to living wholly. I decided to look at the pain and the truth, but also to allow the joy in.
In order to live a life that is filled with revelation, you must be open and willing to see it. Opening the eyes of your heart means listening to the arguments that make you uncomfortable, seeing past the words to the person speaking them. Open spiritual eyes mean being willing to seek what is real, willing to discern between matters of the flesh and spirit. Eyes that are open seek the truth, pursues it, studies it. With the recognition of truth comes the responsibility of action.
This revelation has led me down a path of change and of humility. Things I thought were set in stone washed away. You see, if you open the eyes of your mind, your emotions, your will to see God and His mind, His will, and His emotion then the power of the Holy Spirit can move through you. If you will not look, you will miss what He is doing. Do you have eyes to see and ears to hear what God is saying to you and to the world?
At one point I bought about fifteen of this book and gave them away. Secrets of the Secret Place is that good.