When Jan and I lived in Berlin, Germany our ministry assignment during that time was to strengthen and encourage churches and leaders in Europe. As we traveled each week we were constantly crossing national borders. More importantly, we were also crossing ancient spiritual frontiers not defined by modern maps. The personal attack from the guardians of these spiritual frontiers was intense, bringing us face-to-face with spiritual strongholds embedded deep within the European continent.
One night I was awakened at 3:00 a.m. I got up and walked into the entryway of our apartment. Standing in the entry way was a group of angels. I had never seen an angel prior to that night.
The color of the angels was stunning. They resembled neon signs that emitted all the colors of the rainbow. As I stood looking at them, it was like I was seeing light passing through a glass prism. The colors were not reflective, but came from some deep place. I felt that if I tried to touch them my hand would continue to reach through them without making contact with the source of the color. What was unique about this situation was only one of the angels paid any attention to me. The other angels were busy with some kind of preparation. This all seemed strangely familiar to me. Then, I realized what this was – it was a tactical staging area.
As some of you know, prior to my last 30-plus years of serving within the Church, I was a police officer. As a young police officer I was assigned to what was then a new and developing concept within police work, a specialized police unit called SWAT. SWAT stands for “Special Weapons And Tactics.”
As a SWAT officer, I would train every day to get my body in the best physical condition possible. I became familiar with a variety of weapons and martial arts. Each month our team would train in daylong intensives led by FBI instructors who had just returned from combat duty in the jungles of Southeast Asia. These ex-Green Berets and Navy Seals drilled us in the procedures that would keep us alive and give us a tactical advantage in dangerous high-stress assignments.
Whenever my phone would ring with a SWAT “call up”, I would grab my duffel bag of equipment and my weapon and meet our unit commander and the rest of my team at a predetermined location called a “staging area.” A staging area is a command post where communication systems are set up to handle a developing situation and where SWAT team members could gear up and receive their briefing. From the staging area we would then be deployed to engage the threat. The intelligence gathered from our scouts and the readiness of the team all flowed from what we did as preparation in the staging area. To this day, I still view the operation of the Church from a similar tactical perspective.
That angelic encounter changed forever how I see spiritual conflict. I have come to realize that before God moves visibly in our world He “stages” His forces for battle. This staging first takes place beyond the veil of our natural sight in the spiritual realm. Too many times we become consumed with the emotion and struggle we experience on this side of the veil and miss the reality that is developing on the other side.
We are in a staging season. God is assembling His angelic forces over our homes, our cities and our nations. He is releasing new levels of faith to be acted upon at His command. We must be careful not to base the strategy and tactics of our engagement only on what is seen through our natural eyes. We must be like the servant of Elisha when the King of Aram was sending a mighty army to fight against Israel. Elisha asked that his servant’s eyes be opened to see the army God was staging against the King of Aram behind the veil of natural sight.
“When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha. 16 “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” 17 Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire”. II Kings 6: 15-17
To this day, when I meet with someone in tune with the working of God’s Spirit, I notice the point when our conversation begins to make a shift. That shift happens when we move from just casual conversation towards something that sounds more like a spiritual SWAT briefing taking place in a tactical staging area. When I talk with people who have seen beyond the veil our conversation becomes visionary and strategic.
Recently, Jan and I met with Ivan and Erica Roman who are planting a church in the area where we live in Southern Oregon. After saying our hellos, we moved into a visionary and strategic kind of discussion. I have had these kinds of conversations many times with leaders in various cities and nations. As Ivan and Erica build their team to plant a church they will be inviting others to see behind the veil with them into what God is preparing to do through their ministry. This is called vision. A heavenly vision precedes an earthly strategy.
The vision we attach to our lives and ministries must have its birthing place from behind the veil. Our calling as the Church is to import the reality of what God is preparing in the Spirit behind the veil and then make it known in this world. Heaven becoming a reality on earth is the strategy of God that redeems the cultures of this world to become the Kingdom of our Lord.
We are in a time of Kingdom history when God will be making His plans known in vivid forms of revelation. Some will see angels making battle preparations. Others will receive strategic downloads from heaven that will contradict the highest forms of human logic and reasoning. Prophetic artisans will have released upon them a new level of creativity to usher in a deeper reformation within the arts, cinema and music.
The Chariots of Fire, along with all of God’s supernatural resources, have been staged and are now standing ready to be released upon the earth in greater measure. At God’s command, and in response to our faith, a supernatural wave of God’s presence is about to be released. His presence will fall in unexpected places not yet imagined.
We are being invited to exchange an earthly vision for a heavenly one and begin stepping forward in confident faith towards what is not yet visible to natural sight. God has been staging His resources for this time in human history. As we step forward in faith we will never take that step of faith alone. God made a promise that He plans to keep, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”