In 1999 one of the popular movies was The Matrix. It captured the attention of viewers with its special effects and the theme that there was more going on than meets the eye. Could it be that fantasy was highlighting a truth we did not see as we consider the time we are living in?
Read a part of the dialogue that Morpheus speaks to Neo and consider:
“If you’re talking about what you can hear, what you can smell, taste and feel then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain. You’ve been living in a dreamworld, Neo. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.”From The Matrix (1999)
Okay, so maybe not “simply electrical signals,” but it is not off base to consider that the world has so captured our attention that it has resulted in us missing the powerful truth of the unseen world we live in and what has been playing out while we were dreaming (or sleeping).
As our lives have gotten busier and busier and our attention has been focused on screens of one kind or another, there is much we have missed about each other and what has been a slow yet steady shift in the world as we have known it.
Our calendars drive us so that we experience more stress even in leisure activities than we once did. Time for reflection is rare and might only occur on a vacation if we are gone long enough. We keep running faster and cannot seem to catch up on anything despite all the things we have created and designed to help us make life simpler and easier.
We simultaneously live in two different worlds at once. There is the one we see that has us spinning and tired much of the time and there is the unseen world we don’t believe in, have forgotten, or are too busy to notice. The enemy is delighted with either condition because it causes us to miss the activity he is using to reshape our world, its values, passions, attitudes, and behaviors. He wants us to be deceived and miss the unseen war that is going on. He doesn’t want us to look beyond the fog.
That isn’t new to humankind. We have always been captivated most by what the natural eye can see. We forget the unseen war. We forget who the author of confusion is. We forget we were made for something better. We forget that if we are believers we are never alone and have the host of heaven around us as well as the hordes of hell.
One of my favorite Old Testament Bible stories illustrates that perfectly. It’s found in 2 Kings 6. Elisha, prophet and former pupil of Elijah seems to have trouble follow him much of the time and when we find him in this chapter, he had just given advice to the armies of Israel. The king of Syria was none too happy with him so under the cover of darkness, he sent his army to surround the place where Elisha was staying with the intent to destroy him.
Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, awakens early in the morning and discovers they are surrounded by enemy forces and sounds the alarm for Elisha. The servant appeared frantic wondering what to do and what would become of them. Look at how Elisha responds:
“And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”2 Kings 6:17 (NIV)
We may not see an army physically surrounding us, but the chaos and confusion sewn by the enemy’s hand and our proclivity to be deceived by objects around us make us easy prey to fear, doubt, and despair that we will not be rescued from the madness we find ourselves in or believe that we have any power to stand in the midst of the onslaught where our freedom appears to hang by a thread.
Perhaps the Lord has allowed the noise of battle to become so loud to remind us of the unseen world and to remind us we are still here as watchmen and guardians, his representatives, and He would not have us surrender to the forces that are surrounding us that He has already defeated at the cross.
On recent days as noise and confusion have reached high levels, I sense the Lord nudging us to “open our eyes”. I hear the words of J.R.R. Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings where we see the battle between good and evil played out in vivid imagery as power and deceit weave webs to seduce men, dwarves, and elves.
Then in the last film (The Return of the King), we see the reluctant Aragorn, the one who is to be king, take his leadership role in the memorable scene in front of the black gate of Mordor. His words to his armies could serve us well also:
“Sons of Gondor! Of Rohan! My brothers. I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the Age of Men comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we fight! By all you hold dear on this good earth. I bid you stand, Men of the West!”From The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
You may think you are not a warrior and often as believers we focus on loving and serving and forget there is more to us than that. Paul wouldn’t have written about armor in Ephesians 6 if there were not battles to fight and win through the Lord’s Holy Spirit at work within us.
We commonly get in some metal vehicle to protect us when we leave the safety of our homes and we buckle our seatbelts after years of training, but do we put on the whole armor of the Lord Paul writes about when we arise each morning?
Perhaps we need to begin with repenting for being off our posts with the world pulled over our eyes. Perhaps we need to be sure our standing with Him allows us to ask for mercy and help.
Lord, open our eyes!