Seeing into heaven
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."
But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together. They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul.
As they were stoning Stephen, he called out "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
Wow! What did Stephen see? He described it as well as he could, his suddenly-made-clear-vision into a world more real and far more beautiful than the one where he was about to be stoned and killed. Jesus' birth, life, death and resurrection were already part of history. Stephen's privilege was to see into the parallel spiritual world. What changes had been wrought there?
Mostly, I have peanut butter feet. They're stuck to the earth they were born on, and so is my vision. So I cherish the occasional wisps of spiritual sight that I experience, in a waking-up moment, in some bit of a dream, while I'm reading or writing or watching a movie. God knows me better than I know myself. God knows when and how to reach my conscious mind. All He needs is for me to let him in.
What was Stephen like? In the court of his accusers he had the "face of an angel." His words and miracles greatly resembled those of Jesus. He was full of grace and power, and obviously possessed great courage. In spite of these traits (or perhaps because of them), he became the Christ-followers' first martyr.
The young man named Saul who was watching left the scene and traveled to Damascus. On that journey he was struck blind physically so that he could see Jesus clearly. His life changed as much as Stephen's did. What a couple days for the man soon to be re-named Paul.
And like both Stephen and Paul, we never know just what's going to happen next. I'm glad God does.
Let me open myself, Lord, to whatever you have in mind. Now, and next time too.