It is in vain for man to endeavor to instruct man in those things which the Holy Spirit alone can teach.
— Madame Guyon
I had a dream a few years ago in which an angel came to visit me. I wasn’t frightened, just terribly curious because I couldn’t discern its gender. I kept looking surreptitiously for lumps or bumps under his/her/it’s loose garment that would give something away. It’s quite an unusual occasion, to say the least, to dream of seeing an angel and I wasn’t sure why he/she/it was there or what I was supposed to do. Finally it dawned on me that I should do something hospitable and I offered to make tea. I grabbed an old-style kettle with a long narrow spout and tried to fill it at the sink. The water from the faucet came out with greater water pressure than we had ever had before in that house. The hole in the spout was partially closed and I was having a difficult time filling the kettle through the tiny opening. Water was spraying all over the place.
My guest sighed.
“That,” he/she/it said. “That is the problem!”
“You are asking questions but trying to explain the answers to you is like filling a big kettle through a tiny hole. Take the lid off!”
Why didn’t I think of that?
“You have much to learn but answering your questions is like trying to explain the internet to someone who has never heard a radio, or a seen a light bulb. You need another way to take in information than the way you have been doing it.”
Then I woke up, confused of course, and feeling a little reprimanded – and questioning my sanity because I didn’t know how seriously to take a dream. But I had a sense this was a God-dream. What was I doing now and how was I supposed to do things differently to “take the lid off?” I could study harder, and sign up for another Bible study course! Then I realized that would increase the pressure, and my brain was not receiving it all anyway. I was still stuck in old thinking patterns.
I tried to imagine myself explaining my day to a great great grandmother who knew nothing of electricity or motorized vehicles. I started with the radio alarm going off in the morning and listening to a man hundreds of miles away read the weather forecast for the day and talk about the price of oil in Azerbaijan. Then I took some cooked quinoa from South America I had stored in the refrigerator and warmed it up with raisins from California and cinnamon from Sri Lanka (the old Ceylon, Grandma) in the microwave for breakfast. While the coffee from Columbia was dripping into the carafe in the coffee maker I threw a load of laundry in the washing machine and tossed the wet clothes that had been there into the dryer… It didn’t take long to realize that great great Grandma would have a lot of catching up to do. She would be amazed; she would be overwhelmed. I couldn’t explain it to her. She would have to spend time with me and learn about television remote controls and ignition keys and Google. I’m sure it would be disorienting, so maybe we would start with a light switch.
I have a lot of catching up to do. Sometimes my need for “prudent wisdom” is actually just the fear that the power of the deceiver is greater than the power of the One who gives the gift of wisdom. The result is narrow-mindedness.
Going higher means adopting a wider way of receiving than the physical senses can provide. It means opening up to the Holy Spirit in a way that does not require everything to pass through the tiny opening of mere scientific method and logic. It means knowing that some things can only be ascertained through spiritual senses (taking the lid off) and that requires spending a lot of time with Holy Spirit to learn his ways. If you don’t believe he exists, you won’t hear what he has to say or experience his input in understanding the scriptures or anything else. His ways will continue to seem strange — like explaining to a nineteenth-century person that using a “mouse” to move an arrow on a screen to click a publish button will allow people around the world read your words the same day.
We have not yet even begun to fully understand the basics, let alone imagine all that the Lord has for us.
But a person who denies spiritual realities will not accept the things that come through the Spirit of God; they all sound like foolishness to him. He is incapable of grasping them because they are disseminated, discerned, and valued by the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:4 The Voice)