I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart might be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you…” (Ephesians 1:17-18 NIV)
When I am hunting for something around the house, my wife has a saying, “You have eyes but cannot see.” For some reason, the object of my pursuit becomes invisible to my eyesight. When I do find it, it is out in the open, obvious to all but me. My grandmother used to say, “If it was a snake, it would have bit you!”
However, there are some realities that are invisible to the naked eye. Love is imperceptible. We can see signs of love, but love itself is invisible. Same with God Himself. He is no less real, but He is not perceptible to our senses.
God would like all of us to see that which is invisible to the naked eye. Let’s see what we learn as we move from the Apostle Paul’s prison song, to his prison prayer in Ephesians 1:17-18.
In this prayer from prison, the Apostle Paul said that he kept asking that God would give the Holy Spirit of revelation and wisdom to God’s children that they might “know Him better.” What did he mean by this?
The Greek word here translated “know” is very different from book knowledge. This word “know” is “to know by experience.” It is like the difference between knowing the quality of a meal by reading a cookbook versus eating that meal prepared by a gifted cook.
In our area, a good example of this concept is FARMING. People can say they know what farmers do, but how accurate is that? I know from my own experience, coming from the suburbs of Chicago to rural Missouri, that I was clueless before moving here. Even now, I would have to admit that I only “know” a small fragment of what it means to be a farmer.
Oh, I now know the difference between hay and straw and I have ridden in a combine on two occasions. But I hardly know what it means to be a farmer. But many of the farming families in our area KNOW what it means to be a farmer in the Biblical sense of “knowing.” They know first hand the long hours of planting and harvest, they know the anxious nights waiting for a storm to blow through to see what the damage is, etc.
So Paul prayed for the believers to KNOW God the Father, really KNOW Him in this hands-on kind of way. And then he prayed that the “eyes of their heart” would be enlightened, that they would be opened to see things that were invisible to us.
The primary thing that God wants us to see is “the HOPE to which He has called us.”
What do we mean by Hope? Often, it’s a pretty weak idea like, “I hope it doesn’t rain on our vacation.” Or “I hope the Royals and Greinke win when I go to the K next week.” And “I hope the Chiefs and the Bears meet in the Super Bowl.” It’s more wishful thinking than anything else.
But in the Bible, God means much, much more. We could define Biblical Hope as “A Confident Expectation that God Is Willing and Able to Keep His Promises.”
For instance, such Hope changes how we deal with death. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13, it says that we do not grieve like those who have no hope. Just a short time ago I was in the chapel at Lafayette Regional Hospital with a man from my church just minutes after it became clear that his father had passed away. This man turned and said to me, “I know that he’s in a better place.” Why could he say this at such a traumatic time?
Because he had the sure words of Jesus in John 4:1-3:
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.
We rest in these words of Jesus when we lose a believing loved one. What’s ironic is that we can have great peace at a moment like this, but we are filled with worry or fear over other things in our lives, often those less severe.
But we need not be. We have sure promises from God for all of the tough times in our lives. We know this in our mind and can even quote from Romans 8:28 – “We know that God works all things together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”
But we fail to grab hold of this as something sure and rock solid in the midst of the up and down circumstances of our lives. Years ago I was on a ferry out in the North Sea in a heavy storm. At first, I and my fellow college students thought it was funny. We were in a beautiful dining room set up with a twenty foot long banquet table loaded with a mouth-watering Smorgasbord. We laughed as we swayed through the buffet line and found our seats. We were less entertained when it took all we had to keep our drinking glasses from spilling on us.
Finishing my food quickly, I got up and went to talk with another student. I knelt down beside him, laying my arm on the table which was bolted to the floor. Suddenly, a wave grabbed the ferry and the floor tilted almost ninety degrees. People rolled out of their chairs and everything slid off the tables. The beautiful Smorgasbord slid into a horrible mess and crashed into the opposite wall.
I watched all of this as if watching a movie. Entirely by accident, I had found the safe spot in the room. My fellow students were slipping and sliding, clothes dripping from food and drink. Yet I was anchored to the bolted table on the high side of the room and free from all harm.
When we are in the storms of life, God wants to open our eyes to see that we are in a Safe Spot in Him. We can have peace because our Hope is anchored in the very person of God
We’re not just banking on the most reliable weather man or the best sports analyst. The Hope to which WE have been called is backed up by GOD Himself.
In Hebrews 6:18, He tells us that “it is impossible for God to lie.” Then in Hebrews 6:19-20 we read, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.” I picture an anchor chain snaking from around my ankle and disappearing behind the curtain of heaven itself. I picture it as wrapped around the ankle of Jesus. I am secure in Jesus in the midst of the storms of economic meltdowns, cancer diagnoses, family troubles, vague chronic illnesses that defy diagnoses, layoffs at my workplace, etc.
God wants our eyes opened to see His faithfulness and His purposes, to see His Hope that He has specially given to His children. It is a Hope to which He has called every believer in Jesus Christ.