My wife and I recently had the blessing of going to Mexico for some relaxation and some great scuba diving. It was one of the most amazing experiences that we have had on a vacation. Not only was it great company and beautiful surroundings but it was extremely eye opening in a spiritual sense as well.
As a child growing up in Oregon, I had the chance to visit the coast often. Every time I would look at the ocean, I would see the whitecaps on the surface of the water. Rarely would I acknowledge the world that existed below those waves. A few years ago, I had the blessing of learning how to scuba dive with my wife and her family. We were certified up in the Puget Sound in Washington. In that cold water, it was extremely hard to see anything and if there was visibility, it was ten to fifteen feet at most. Even in that cold, murky water though, I was able to see a world that was never apparent to me before. Ling Cod, Jellyfish, Octopus, and all sorts of vegetation was in front of me and I realized that there was a world below the surface that was much more beautiful, immense, and complex than I could have ever imagined. Through that experience I learned that just because I had never seen this world before, and could not understand it, did not mean it did not exist. I just did not acknowledge it until I started to see it for myself.
When we went to Cozumel, the warm water allowed us visibility for 75 feet and in that kind of water, you are able to see abundant amounts of life. Vibrant coral is everywhere building itself into swim through tunnels and towers, amazing cathedrals of the sea. We were able to see turtles, thousands of fish, stingrays, spotted eagle rays, eels, and much more. Possibly the most exciting revelation on this trip though, was the fact that the more I dove, the more I was able to take my mind off of the technical aspects of diving and start paying more attention to the environment around me. When I was not worrying about all the gauges, navigation, and so on, I was able to take in all the God has created around me and revel in it, knowing that most people spend their entire life never seeing this portion of creation.
The parallels in this are numerous within the spiritual realm. As a new believer, I finally acknowledged the existence of the spiritual realm and the work of God in my life when I accepted and confessed that I am a sinner in need of the grace and mercy of the resurrected Jesus Christ. But even then, I was only acknowledging what I could feel with my emotions and senses. I was only seeing a small portion of the full picture. As I walk with Christ more and more each day and I allow the Lord to take my mind off of the religious task list I always find myself making, I start to see that there is so much more going on around me.
I start to see all that is going on in the war for my soul on the spiritual plain. In those moments I wrestle with my own temptation and sin, I am locked in a battle not "...against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." Many hear this passage and they picture Christ and Satan trading punches blow for blow. Unfortunately though, this stems from our ignorance of biblical truth and our lack of visibility to what is really occurring. I am reminded of what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:12 when he said, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. ”
The trick is to get our minds off of the technical aspects of religion like fighting sin, trying to be good, trying not to be bad, and instead just grow in our relationship with Christ each day. Focusing on what we “do” within Christianity will merely end in more failure and disappointment. Focusing on Christ and what He already did on the cross to do away with the punishment for my sin will give us a better understanding of what is going on around us. In so doing, we will acknowledge the spiritual struggle going on beneath the surface but at the same time, we will revel in the beauty and power of what the Lord has for us through those battles. He wants to bring us out the other side as people who truly submit in obedience to His will for our lives and are used mightily to spread His good news. When we take this perspective, we come to the conclusion that Christ truly has given us victory (1 Corinthians 15:57) and we will rejoice and have confidence in all that is occurring behind the scenes of our walk with Him. Lord, open our eyes to see what You see and in doing so, help us to be in amazement and awe at the victory You have given us as we cling to You. Amen.