I would venture that there are many of you who have read the last couple of my posts who have had serious doubt as to their plausibility or veracity. You have questioned if my presentations have aligned with Scripture, and have perhaps struggled with accepting them as valid for Christians. That is to be expected in the 21st Century, and is most likely the normal reaction from most Believers.
In fact, my friends and fellow Christians who have partook in this spiritual exercise have had varied reactions and experiences. And to be honest, it didn’t surprise me, since we are products of the 18th Century Enlightenment and Age of Reason, which was an intellectual movement that emphasized reason (logical justification for an event), rational thought, and skepticism while challenging the traditional religious views of the prior centuries. Those earlier views readily accepted the supernatural when it came to faith; of experiencing miracles and a spiritual relationship with God. But here we are, with nearly 400 years separating us from the ability to conceive of supernaturally experiencing Jesus and God, and we find it so difficult to do what God made possible … to be brought near by the blood of Christ.
So, I’m going to present some of the skepticism and doubt, along with the questions that arose from those who have participated in experiencing the garden of their heart. I will begin by saying that desiring [or hungering] for intimacy with Jesus is a necessary component for being able to see “the garden” or submitting to any spiritual experience with Him. And it is not unusual for someone who has been raised up in a rigid religious denomination to find it difficult to “let go” of this carnal world in order to experience the spiritual realm. Paul explained this dilemma in Romans 8:5-9, For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit… You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.
That is perhaps the most difficult thing for some Christians to accept — God created us to abide in Him in the spirit; spirit-to-Spirit, so to speak. That’s why He gave us our imaginations — so that we can experience Him beyond the physical restraints of this earthly realm; experience Him where He resides, in the heavenly realm. And that may be hard for other Christians to perceive because they don’t truly believe their Scripture that says we can now come boldly and confidently before the throne of God (Hebrews 4:16), or that we are now seated in the heavenly realms with Christ (Ephesians 2:5-6). We can only do that in our spirit, since our sinful flesh is still delegated to this earth.
But so much of the teaching of the modern Church [to the Body of Christ] has not emphasized that we are three-part beings: body, soul (mind/emotions/will), and spirit. Our bodies [or flesh] are limited to this realm. Our souls are subject to our relationship with Jesus. And our spirits have the ability to commune with Him supernaturally. That last part has been all but purged from our Christian understanding, and the Church only emphasizes our sinful flesh and minds that are subject to temptation.
Much of the skepticism and doubt about supernaturally interacting with Jesus and God comes from the fear of being deceived. It is common for Christians to ask, “But can’t the devil invade our imaginations, or read our minds? So how can we trust that what we are seeing in the garden of our heart is actually coming from Jesus?” Here’s my answer to that: Satan is not omniscient. He cannot read our minds. Only God is all-knowing of everything, including our thoughts. If you are able to [in your imagination] go to your garden, that intimate place of meeting with Jesus, and you experience His overwhelming love, joy, and peace; and you hear Him say something that moves you to tears, how in the world could you ever say that was from Satan? What purpose would Satan have for allowing you to come away from that experience with such an image of a loving Christ?
Now, what Satan will do is this: He will send a spirit of doubt, or a spirt of unbelief against you so that, out of your own free will, you start discounting or disbelieving what you experienced. And he’s always ready to use a spirit of religion to shut down any opportunity for a Believer to come into greater relationship with their Lord. We have a perfect Biblical model for that in Matthew 23:13, when Jesus says to the religious leaders, But woe (judgment is coming) to you, [self-righteous] scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven in front of people; for you do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow those who are [in the process of] entering to do so.
That same spirit of religion that was evident in the Pharisees is alive and active in the Body of Christ today. The rigid religious doctrine that the Pharisees used to stifle and suppress a spirit-to-Spirit relationship among the ancient people of God is still used today to shut down a Believer’s access to that heavenly realm where their spirit resides. They are simply unable to conceive of themselves as anything other than flesh and blood.
But I also wish to remind you that if you are Saved and Redeemed by the blood of Jesus, you are a new creation, wholly sanctified, with a renewed mind. Satan is going to do everything he can to tempt you to use your free will to corrupt the new you. Can you be deceived? Only if you come into agreement with the devil. If you set your heart and your mind upon the things of God, and learn to recognize His voice and see Him in all circumstances, you have nothing to fear. You will be able to judge the fruit of that tree in your heart’s garden and know whether it is a good tree, placed there by the Goodness of God.
Now, I don’t expect that the arguments I have presented here will persuade anyone that has made up their mind that we are not able to supernaturally experience Jesus. But I would hope that they would search their Bibles and meditate upon the Word day and night (Joshua 1:8) and meditate upon the Lord’s precepts and thoughtfully regard His ways (Psalm 119:15). Because, while on earth, Jesus only acted as a man … seeing and hearing the Father; in other words communing with Him supernaturally. He has left us with that model for how the Father wishes to relate with us, too.
In closing, I would like to say that among the participants of our Home Church who attempted to establish the garden of their heart, the majority of these wonderful people were able to experience some aspect of experiencing Jesus in the garden. Some openly wept at what He showed them, and what He spoke to them. Others, who were visiting their garden for a second time, found themselves more open to experiencing it, since their spirits had discerned His presence was real. They ran and played with Him. Still others were going to need a little time to process what they had “seen”. It was a new, and frankly, foreign experience for them. And perhaps you recognize yourself among their varied responses. That’s okay. I would just like to encourage you to ask God to show you how to have an intimate encounter with Him. He wants to visit those who seek Him and desire Him. Let Him show you the way.
Update on Molly: You will recall my post on Molly, the young mother who was in a coma after being in a car accident with her husband and young daughter. She was unresponsive for weeks, and members of our community have visited the hospital in Austin and laid hands on her for healing. She is now in Houston in an intensive rehab facility. Her family has been traveling back and forth to be with her. Last week, her father walked into her room, and said, “Hey, baby girl, how ya doing today?” She responded, “I love you, Daddy”. She is healing! Praise you, Jesus, for You are worthy to be praised!
Jeremiah 33:3 Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.