Seeing is believing, so they say. What about not seeing? Can we believe in what we don’t see? How often do we respond only to what we see and never question what’s beneath—what’s beyond? I asked myself these questions as we toured a massive, live cave in southern Arizona last week.
On the surface, no one would ever know there was a world beneath rocks and cactus and sagebrush. And then, one day, two cavers trekked upon desert land and noticed something curious—ocotillo. An unusual patch of ocotillo signified presence of limestone. And limestone meant possible cave! Searching through the ocotillo, the men found a hole in the earth just wide enough to crawl through and down they both went, headlamps on.
Down, down, down two men crept and came into an underworld of beauty—a discovery of a lifetime. Fourteen years these men kept the newly found cave secret from the public. Fourteen years they spent with a multitude of others intent on preserving this cave for generations to come who would enjoy the wonders within.
Through two steel doors we entered. We were prepared for the cave with verbal instruction and fine mist watering, so as not to disturb the delicate environment within. Massive rooms with majestic columns and delicate, ribboned mineral displays brought all to a wonder hush. We walked carefully so as not to touch anything within because we were told that even the lightest brush against the surfaces would start destructive growth.
As we toured and listened to our guide, I couldn’t help but think of all those above, waiting to see what we were seeing. On the surface, no one would know what lay beneath. On the surface, the land looked just the same as the surrounding ground. But down below there was a whole other world. Before we entered the unseen world, we paid money—good money—trusting there was something worth discovering. We were not disappointed.
Our trip to and through this magnificent cave made me think about all unseen realities, especially God and His kingdom. How often I have heard people say they don’t believe in God—an unseen God. How often people rely only on their five senses to determine what’s real—what’s worthy of time and attention—what’s worthy of life investment. What if there’s a whole world we can’t see that really exists? I believe there is. And I believe we see glimpses of that world all around us every day, if we’re willing and able to see with more than physical eyes.
The kingdom of God is like this cave. It exists. Some see it. Some see as Jesus saw when He said, the kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21). The kingdom of God is not just some physical place. It’s more. The kingdom of God begins with the word of God’s Spirit in people’s lives and relationships. We need to look within. We need to look beneath skin and into people’s hearts if we want to see the unseen kingdom of God.
Appearances mean nothing in God’s kingdom. Heart means everything. Like the heart of the cave, unseen on the surface, so is the heart of humankind. And only God completely knows the human heart.
We see only the surface, unless we look through God’s eyes. God sees the depths. God knows why surfaces are cracked and parched and unfruitful. He sees beneath and longs to heal the deep-down empty spaces no other sees. He can bring to life the deep-down-dead places. He was raised from the dead to raise the dead! Believe, though you can’t yet see!
We all have cavernous spaces beneath our surfaces. And some aren’t so beautiful. They’re dark and scary death tombs. But God comes down into them and shines His light of life. He is careful to treat fragile places tenderly lest damage be done. And just like the cavers worked to preserve the integrity of the cave, Jesus died to save us all for eternity. He enters our dark spaces to shine, not to shame. We are that precious! We are worth that much to our God that He would leave His place on high and come searching for us in dark and unseen places—seeking to heal all broken heart spaces.
Yes, we can’t see Him now—at least not with our eyes. But He’s alive and He’s at work in our world, preserving and restoring. And He wants to work in our hearts.
Jesus stands at the door of our hearts and knocks (Revelation 3:20). Will we allow Him entrance? Will we allow Him to shine His light of life into all our dark and dead spaces? All we need do is open the door. Wonders within await the light of His presence.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us form all sin. 1 John 1:5-7
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD. Psalm 89:18
My God turns my darkness into light. Psalm 18:28
And one day, we will yet see the fulfillment of John’s prophetic vision . . .
I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. Revelation 21:22-23
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. Isaiah 60:1