When we speak of the Lord’s visits, we are referring to the ways in which the Lord makes Himself personally known either to our natural or supernatural senses. He does this for a variety of reasons, but it will always be to draw attention to Himself, not the manner of the revealing. As He visits, don’t assume you know how to interpret or respond—Ask The Lord! He will explain Himself.
Physical / Natural Manifestations
God may choose to make Himself known in ways that are apparent to the natural senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell. It’s fine to ask the Lord to make Himself known in these ways, but even more important is to become habitually aware that He may choose this avenue. A natural manifestation is no more significant or trustworthy than any other way He makes Himself known—take everything to Him and let Him speak to you about it. But do enjoy it when it happens! The Lord does!
We will also be sharing some personal examples in hopes that they will trigger a thirst and hunger for them for yourselves, and to see the diversity and simplicity of the ways in which God communicates. They are not meant to project a standard or establish guidelines, as each of us has the unique experiences with the Lord that He wants us to have.
Here are some examples of the Lord making Himself perceivable to our eyes—The Lord Himself appearing (I’ve not experienced this yet, but am looking forward to it); something “catching your eye” via peripheral vision (for me this happens a lot when I see something in my rear-view mirror while driving); visions, dreams, trances (covers a wide array of ways the Lord communicates to us); unusual, multicolored or flashing lights (the Lord has awakened me several times with flashing blue lights, like a police car, in my room—and no, when I go to look for a police car in the street, there is none); angelic appearances (for me these appear most often when I am very weary and need encouragement); also demonic manifestations (a demon of bronchitis manifested itself as a lizard-like critter while I was trying to work; it disappeared under a door, though there was not enough of a gap between the door and the floor).
Here are some examples of the Lord making Himself perceivable to our ears—Phone ringing (may not sound like your phone, but will be enough to get your attention; may sound like your phone but no one will be there when you pick up, and yes, it could be that someone just hung up—ASK THE LORD!); Knocking or doorbell ringing, but when you answer the door no one is there; Footsteps, but no one there; An annoying sound that I hear a lot is my garage door opening—definitely an attention-getter! Car door slamming. Audible voice calling by name, singing, or even humming. All of these are pretty typical sounds that we probably hear throughout the day. As the Lord sharpens our senses we will be able to distinguish those that are made by Him to get our attention from those that occur circumstantially.
Here are some examples of the Lord making Himself perceivable to our taste—Sweet, bitter, metallic, sour, sudden thirst. Again, these are ways the Lord is trying to get our attention. These sensations may or may not be related to what the Lord wants to say to us. I have on a couple of occasions had a metallic taste in my mouth; when followed up with the Lord I discovered that He wanted me to speed up something I was doing. I’ve also had a bitter taste, which ended up in intercession.<
Here are some examples of the Lord making Himself perceivable to our physical body—touch of a hand from the Lord or an angel; breeze or wind where no source is evident; abrupt change in temperature or humidity. All these are to draw our attention that the Lord wants to speak to us. I’ve many times felt someone brush up against me when I’m working and often when I’m driving.
Here are some examples of the Lord making Himself perceivable by scent—roses, musty/moldy, sandalwood, indescribable. Again, since the purpose of the scent is to get our attention, it is not necessary to identify the odor in order to learn its meaning—we simply ask the Lord!
For myself I have noticed a pattern emerging in the ways God communicates to me in the natural realm: sirens and flashing lights are to alert me to an attack of the enemy or that I’m vulnerable somewhere; more subtle interruptions are to draw my attention to a specific area of teaching or instruction.
You will likely be questioned, if not criticized, by friends and strangers alike, and you may even be tempted to criticize yourself as you pursue becoming familiar with these manifestations. Settle it now that natural manifestations are real, helpful, and encourage you into greater dependence on the Lord, and to not take advantage of them is to shortchange yourself the wonderful relationship God has waiting for you.
Soulical / Supernatural Manifestations
Awareness of the supernatural realm is essential in recognizing and responding to the Presence and Communication of God. Most of us have, at one time or another, in one way or another, “sensed” the Presence of the Lord, heard His voice internally, or recognized His guidance and provision apart from a change in our natural circumstances. Our goal, however, is to actively participate in the learning process to develop our senses and increase our awareness. Through the practice of waiting on the Lord and cultivating quietness as a lifestyle we make ourselves fully available to be taught directly by the Lord. Though attending conferences, reading books, receiving prayer and exercising our gifts are all helpful in this process, there is absolutely no substitute for hearing and being taught directly by the Lord. We rob Him of His throne-rights, rejecting His sovereignty and Lordship, when we substitute other authority or teachings for His personal One-on-one instruction.
Many of the above natural manifestations occur as supernatural events as well. For instance, instead of audibly hearing knocking, you may “hear internally,” while having a conversation with a friend, or driving, for instance. The Lord trains us during our waiting periods to learn to recognize His intrusions on all levels and under all circumstances, and we are to respect His right to make Himself known to us at any time during the day or night regardless of the activity we are otherwise engaged in.
The resources available to us in the supernatural and spirit realms can be likened to the informational resources available on the internet. The vast majority of “information” or web sites are personal (opinion) or business (profit-making) in nature. Many are also using the internet as a way to dissemi-nate news and information, though these also can be categorized as personal opinion and profit-making. So on the internet, how do you know what to believe? For those topics that truly concern you, do your own research and follow the facts! Though we are all entitled to our own opinion, we are not entitled to our own facts. Those sites that habitually deliver facts that are independently verifiable are more likely to also deliver opinion and information that is likely to be closer to reality. You are responsible to do your own research.
Likewise regarding the supernatural realm, it is our responsibility to test what we hear and not rely on the name on the door or a teaching or ministry’s popularity to provide veracity. We must test it for ourselves, check out the facts, see if it really works. It truly takes a lot of effort and time to learn what’s available to us in the supernatural realm, but it is thoroughly worth it. Because we have Truth within us, we are learning to distinguish between what is True and what is merely opinion, no matter how well presented, highly regarded or commonly accepted.
Experiencing the supernatural is better “felt” than “telt.” You have to experience it for yourself. The Lord encourages us to taste and see that He is good. Not See and Taste, but Taste and See. Experience first, understand second.
When I was in grade school in Michigan we had a new student in my class who had just moved from Hawaii. His first week we were all excited, because we were expecting a “big” snowstorm, the first snowfall of the winter. Of course, our new classmate had heard of snow, seen pictures of it, and imagined he understood what it was. But he couldn’t understand our excitement, even though we enthusiastically related past winter’s stories of building forts, snowball fights, sledding and, of course, ice skating. He just didn’t get it. Until it started to snow. By the time recess came around there was already a good accumulation, and he had started to get an idea of what it looked like firsthand. But it wasn’t until recess, when he could play in it for himself (with us enjoying his first experience of snow), that he began to “know” what snow was. Likewise, have you ever tried to explain a flavor to someone? Vanilla? Root beer? It’s just so much easier to let them taste for themselves. Sharing with others creates a thirst, not the satisfaction. Trust God that what He has planned for you will be from Him, and will stir up your hunger to want to know Him more.
Sense of His Presence
Perhaps the best example of needing to experience the Lord firsthand is in regard to recognizing His Personal Presence. As your senses become sharpened (through much waiting on the Lord and cultivating a quiet lifestyle) you will more quickly and easily begin to be able to identify His Presence, and over time will be able to discern His purpose, direction and intention with confidence, not because you’ve studied much or tried hard, but because the Lord has removed the veil separating your senses from His reality. Again, knowing the Lord is simple.
Though there will be times the Lord makes Himself known during the times we are specifically focusing on Him, the majority of the time we will be engaged in other activities when He does something to get our attention. He doesn’t want to have to “shout” at us—it’s a GOOD thing if the Lord doesn’t have to send an angel or perform a miracle to get our attention or encourage us. One of the ways we show respect to a person is if we are at their “beck and call.” So to strengthen our attention, the Lord will engage us to attend to Him at what may seem to be odd times. Learning to pay attention, and how to promptly respond, is essential to moving into being led by the Spirit, and eventually living, moving and having our being in Him.
The Lord’s Night Visits
You will likely find that the Lord is much more active in our lives during the night seasons than during the day. There are several reasons for this: 1) Our body is less active, which lessens its demand for attention from our soul and spirit, freeing our soul to respond; 2) Our soul (mind, will and emotions) is less distracted by the cares of this world, the demands of the clock, external and internal voices, and its need to control. Therefore the soul is more available to receive unconditionally what the Lord wants to share unconditionally; 3) Because our conscious mind is subdued, the Lord has greater opportunity to override, change or ignore the parts of our belief system that hinder His revelation. This is done by the Lord from His Spirit through our spirit to our soul; 4) The Lord also likes to test what we have learned during the day by visiting us at night.
There are two general ways the Lord visits us at night—without waking us, and by waking us up to be with Him.
Communing with the Lord
While our body sleeps, deep calls to deep, and the Lord changes our mind, quiets our emotions, and gives new direction without our conscious awareness. Things that during the day we’d argue with Him about are readily accepted during the night. The result is that in the morning, or perhaps days, weeks or months later, we realize that something has changed, about us, about a situation, about our relationship with God, ourselves or others. For instance, we may have an answer to a situation that never occurred to us before, or our mind or emotions toward a person may have changed without our realizing it. Very often God does His greatest and fastest work as we sleep so that He is not interfered with. Since waiting for Him and cultivating quietness are engaging with the Lord in His purposes, there will likely be an increase in responses in this way, as we have given God the opportunity to release His healing, strength, and understanding in His ways and according to His time.
Visiting with the Lord
There will likely be an increase in occasions when the Lord will wake you up to be with Him. Though He deals with each of us uniquely, just being expectant regarding His visits will make you more aware of His approach. So when He does come for a visit, you will know how to respond. Some of the ways the Lord will announce His visit through supernatural manifestations have already been mentioned: knocking, calling you by name, audible noises, hearing a song internally or audibly, His footsteps, strong odor, or rising within of His Presence so strongly that it breaks your sleep.
Often the way in which the Lord awakens you will be an indication of His purpose. A soft calling of your name may reflect that the Lord is seeking a time of intimacy with you, whereas a sharp knocking may be an alarm regarding an issue or a need for intercession, and the content of a song heard inwardly may give some indication of the topic of conversation. Over time, the Lord Himself will teach you the meaning of His approach, as long as you ask and don’t try to figure it out yourself. You will begin to just “know.” If you do begin to experience these night visits, count yourself well on the way to knowing the Lord on a far deeper level than most Christians today.
We can also acknowledge the value of visiting with the Lord in the night seasons in the following two ways:
Seeking the Lord at Night
We can ask the Lord to wake us for a visit, if He chooses. Before going to bed, simply ask Him to visit you: “Lord, if You want to speak with me tonight, that would be alright with me.” Or, “Lord, don’t let me miss You if You want to come for a visit tonight.” So we’re not talking some specific language that will get Him to come to us, but rather an attitude toward acknowledging His value and being receptive to His visits. This takes discipline, though. You can’t stay up late into the night, then go to bed with all the cares and worries of the day swirling around in your mind, and then expect to be able to stay up with the Lord! Put Him first by dealing with those things that need to be dealt with in a timely manner during the day, so that when He comes for you, you will be attentive. (This is the secret of the illustration of Mary and Martha. Both women had their assigned household tasks, but while Martha was listening to Jesus speak in public, Mary was at home doing her work. Expecting Jesus in her home, she wanted to have her work out of the way so that she could give Him her undivided attention.)
Now don’t expect that just because you ask Jesus to visit you in the night that He will do so that very first night! It’s doubtful that He will! So then why do it? Because the next night you will do it again. Over many nights, days, weeks, months, your soulical senses are being tuned to be receptive to Him. Even the nights that you aren’t aware of His responding, know that He is taking note, and that these times are as valuable to Him as when He does reveal Himself openly, because you are living according to your identity as a spirit being, and making yourself available to Him to do His work. Your behavior is lining up to the truth of who you are in Christ—patient, confident, trusting, available. Eventually He will respond objectively, and it will be worth it.
Getting Up on Your Own
If you are really interested in speeding up the development of your soulical senses and experiencing greater dependence and intimacy on the Lord, schedule a time to wake up on your own in the middle of the night simply to spend time keeping Him company. Set your alarm clock for a time that is about the middle of your designated sleep time; this will mean that you will have had enough sleep so that you can stay up with the Lord without falling asleep, yet enough time afterward so that you can get some sleep for the rest of the day. Get yourself fully awake (that means getting out of bed, sticking your head under the faucet, whatever), then just sit with Him in your Waiting Room (which could be a chair in your bedroom, for instance). Acknowledge His Presence (remember He is always present), and just listen. Don’t necessarily hear something, just listen. As in all the above cases, don’t expect that you will see an instantaneous or reciprocal response from the Lord. But there is a guarantee that those who seek, and keep on seeking, find, and that for those who knock, and keep on knocking, the door will be opened. Let the Lord respond as He chooses; you just make yourself available.
If you find you can’t sleep, rather than trying to quiet your mind, or find something else to fill the time, like reading, watching TV, or cleaning the fridge, seize this prime opportunity to spend time with the Lord, turning your focus from yourself to His grace, and simply making yourself available in the sheer naked faith that He is already there waiting for you to wait for Him.
A Word of Caution
The reasons the Lord likes to visit us at night are also the reasons that make the night seasons an excellent time for demonic activities. When we are asleep we are most vulnerable to the enemy’s suggestions, and if he can get us to believe his lies at night we are more ready to accept them as truth in the cold light of day. So be aware that the night is a battleground. Especially if you are choosing to seek the Lord on your own, you are treading into territory the enemy has (illegally) laid claim to. He will put up a fight! So be prepared to recognize his presence and exercise your authority as necessary. Over time you may find much more going on in your life in the night seasons than you ever thought possible, which may in turn cause you to change your priorities during the day. This is exciting and important stuff, and the Lord wants us to enjoy learning to depend on Him for this warfare as well!
Adapted from Knowing God by Dianne Thomas