Hi, I am Dr. Patrick Oben, M.D. I work at MercyOne Des Moines, Iowa (USA) as an Internist (Hospitalist) and the Founder of Patrick Oben Ministries, Inc. Let me briefly share my story of how the Lord led me to experience Jesus in the Word.
A Yearning for God
As a young believer, I had a deep-seated yearning, as almost every genuine child of God does, to know God deeply and intimately. Along with this desire came a longing for divine visitations, special appearances of Jesus, supernatural encounters with angels, and prophetic heavenly visions. This desire had two primary drivers:
- I assumed such visions and encounters would deepen my personal relationship with the Lord and help my ability to “really believe” God and His Word. I knew the scriptures were not as real to me as I wanted them to be, so I was looking for that extra push to believe more firmly.
- Whenever other believers or ministers shared their experiences of similar encounters with the Lord, I was always thrilled and longed for the same. I had seen from scriptures that such encounters are life-transforming moments.
Good Desire, Wrong Perspective
Despite the desire with accompanying repeated prayer requests, Jesus never walked into my room. To date, I have never seen a vision of an angel or had some spectacular ecstatic vision as I wanted. Although my desire was good, my motivations and perspectives had a profound flaw. The Lord has fulfilled my wish, but not by the means I wanted. I know the Lord deeply, have a close relationship with the Holy Spirit and am rooted in my faith and ministry without a single apparition of Jesus or any angelic visitation.
Scriptures reveal such encounters have a profound impact on the lives of those with such experiences. Besides, they are not wrong, nor is it wrong to want them. However, there was something wrong with my perspective. I expected these encounters to establish my relationship with the Lord or my faith in Him. I would build my relationship with the Lord and the future ministry on such ecstatic visions or experiences. Of course, this perspective had some severe problems. However, in hindsight, I now understand why the Lord has not responded to my repeated plea.
A Turning Point
I was in my apartment sometime in late 2013 at Noble Square Cooperative in Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, spending time with the Lord in prayer and the Word. It was my final year as a medical resident at Cook County Hospital in Chicago (now John H Stroger Hospital. I began asking the Lord for encounters with Him—again. And then He dropped a word in my heart that has profoundly affected me and my ministry. I did not hear an audible voice, but it was so clear, as though He spoke audibly in my heart. The message was:
“It is better for you to see Jesus in the Word than for you to see Him physically.”
I paused and digested what I just received. The subsequent months and years will be a witness to the validity of this message in my life. Since then, I have never seen Jesus in a vision, neither angel nor some “powerful visions.” However, something has changed. Now I know you can know Jesus intimately, encounter His power and presence on a deeper and richer dimension without Jesus ever physically revealing Himself to you in some special appearance or vision. Today, I am no longer desperate for such visions or waiting for them to know God and be strengthened in the faith. I firmly believe the Lord still uses these visions in particular circumstances as He chooses, but this will not be the case for most of us.
Visions of Jesus in the Word
Before my experience above in 2013, I had been having profound revelations of Christ in the Word. Yet as a young charismatic, I knew visions of God meant ecstatic open eye visions, extraordinary dreams, or some angelic visitations. And that was part of my problem. I missed the most valuable revelation of God to His people today: His Word given to us in the scriptures.
The Psalmist in the Old Testament cried out and prayed, saying:
Open thou mine eyes That I may behold wondrous things out of thy law (Psalm 119:18 KJV)
The Lord fulfills this prayer in you and me today in Christ. The Lord brought me to the place of seeing visions of Him in His Word, which have altered my walk with Him and ministry.
The Believer in Christ and Visions of Jesus
As mentioned above, the Spirit spoke to me, saying He wants me to see Jesus in the Word than to see Him with my physical eyes. Additionally, the intimate relationship and established faith I desired do not come principally from seeing Jesus physically or having some angelic visitations. Our faith, the like precious faith in Christ, is nourished, built, and established by the Word of God, not by ecstatic experiences or even miracles. God uses these experiences for different purposes rather than to build intimacy with Him or our faith.
Previously, I often wondered why the Lord does not appear to every one of us if He genuinely wants us to know Him and be firm in our faith. If appearances of Jesus or visions of angels were mandatory for our faith to be established, the Father would do it. That physical appearance of Jesus or angels are not promised to be daily occurrences in the scriptures means they are not perquisites to our spiritual maturity. Like miracles, He can use such experiences to bring us to the faith but then uses His Word to mature us.
Today, I have grown to know and experience the power and presence of Jesus in such a deep and intimate manner beyond my wildest imaginations. As a result, it is now common to spend time reading or studying the Word and sense Jesus so real as though He is standing physically by me. Or times in prayer when His presence as a blanket envelops me. Often I can physically feel the presence and power of Christ as I preach His Word – prayer for experiences at last granted, but in unexpected ways.
My story is one of several personal experiences that have been defining moments for me and my ministry. In summary,
- You can see visions of Jesus in the Word, and the Father longs to open your eyes to see by His Spirit.
- Seeing Jesus in the Word will have a more significant impact on your faith, your personal knowledge of Who He is and His ways, and your intimacy with Him than just having physical visions of Jesus, angels, or prophetic visions.
- God continues to use the appearances of Jesus and angels or prophetic visions today as He chooses for His purposes. Some of us will function in this dimension with Him for the specific ministry He has called us. Such encounters have their place but are neither a substitute nor an alternative to the role of the Word of God in our life.
- The Lord brought me to experience His presence and power in the Word. I know you can know Christ deeply, have an intimate walk with the Holy Spirit, and experience that same power and presence without ever seeing Jesus physically or have some ecstatic experience. After all, faith is the substance of our walk with Him.
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