Ten years ago or so, I went to our church’s women’s retreat. I don’t remember much about it, although my memories of it are colored with fondness. We were in the piney woods of East Texas, but I couldn’t tell you exactly where. I enjoyed great fellowship with other women, but I can’t recall any specific conversations. The teaching was uplifting, but I can’t recall the topic or theme of the weekend.
However, one illustration from that weekend a decade ago is etched firmly in my memory. I recall it often as it was a paradigm shift in the way I live out my story each day. One of the speakers that weekend was Judy Wimberley, a gifted teacher you’ve probably never heard of, but will receive much fanfare when her race is run (a la Sarah Smith of Golders Green in C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce).
Judy was speaking about the excitement in the heavenlies when a sinner repents and is adopted into the family of God by accepting Jesus as their Savior. To illustrate her point, she showed a video montage of the same scene playing out all over the country (but mostly in Texas). Each clip showed a large group of spectators donning green and gold sitting around the glow of a TV awaiting the announcement of the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner. As each large group watched intently, there was total silence – so many people, yet not one sound. Finally, when the announcer said, “Rrrrr,” – not even the whole name – every group erupted to their feet in loud, piercing cheers knowing that their guy, Robert Griffin III, had won the Heisman Trophy.
Judy said, “That’s what it was like in heaven when your name was called.” Her illustration was perfect for Luke 15:10 which says, “…there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” What a thought… we are being cheered on in the heavenlies.
I’m not sure I’d thought of it in those terms before Judy’s illustration. I knew we struggled “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). But I hadn’t ever given much thought to the sacred heavenly realm and being cheered on to holiness – that there are angels waiting with bated breath for my next move to advance the Kingdom of God.
However, scripture verifies that there is more going on in our stories than meets the eye. What we call “real life” is often only a fraction of the story. There is a holy overlay that we can’t see but is no less real.
Elisha the prophet gives us a picture of this in 2 Kings. Elisha was being hunted by the king of Aram who sent a massive army, horses and chariots to find him. When Elisha’s servant saw the vast army coming to attack, he was afraid. “Don’t be afraid,” Elisha said to his servant. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 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 6:13-17). Can you imagine the change in the servant’s perspective (and blood pressure) knowing that they were being wholly (and holy) protected?
Scripture is clear that there is more going on than we can see and makes no mention that these occurrences would cease in modern times. Just the other day I was texting with a group of faithful friends who encourage each other in the Lord. One woman texted the group a passage from Malachi 3:16. The passage describes those who feared the Lord talking with each other and the Lord listening in. It then says that a scroll of remembrance was written about what they said. In other words, God noticed their faithful words and wanted them written down. After reading this, my response to my friends in the text thread was, “May we make the scribes work overtime.” Even our faithful words about the Lord are being kept without our knowledge. May the scribe assigned to write all my faithful words get writer’s cramp… often.
For whatever is going on in your life, there is a heavenly overlay. There is a cheering section that would bring tears to your eyes if you heard just a one-second clip. For Believers, that cheering doesn’t stop once you accept Jesus as your Savior. No, they are cheering you on toward faithfulness and holiness until your assignment is complete. There is a part of your story that you can’t see but is as real – or even more real – than what your eyes behold. I wrote more about this HERE.
When I see Jesus face-to-face, I’m going to request, “Show it all to me. Show me all the times You sent angels to protect me, show me Your divine interruptions that I called disappointments. Show me the chariots of fire on the mountains of my life. Show it all to me.” And He will. And I will barely be able to take it in.
At this time, it’s common to feel isolated and alone. May the Lord give you eyes to see the heavenly overlay in your life. You are not alone. You have armies fighting for you, cheering you on in your faithfulness. We are in unprecedented times, but the Lord sets the clock and the stage. And He’s working behind the scenes in your story for your good (Romans 8:28).
Dear Lord, thank You that there is more to see than what our eyes behold. I can’t wait to get the full commentary when we are face-to-face. Thank You for being exactly Who You are. I praise Your holy Name. Amen.
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One thought on “The Story we Can’t See — A Heavenly Overlay”
Julie, Your articles seem to post just when I need them most. Thank you for your words of wisdom, and how they bless my life!