By Femi Aribisala
Everything here on earth is a very poor imitation of what exists in the kingdom of God.
There is a fundamental difference between God-given dreams and God-given visions. Dreams are revelations we receive from God while we sleep. Visions, on the other hand, are revelations we receive while awake.
Visions are communicated through a variety of ways. Sometimes they come through divine or angelic appearances. Or they come through our falling into a trance. But sometimes they are “open;” we perceive them through the natural eye. In open visions, we are privileged to see into the realms of the spirit; even while still aware of our physical surroundings.
Jesus says: “No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (John 3:3). To see the kingdom is to see what God is doing or going to do. This is reassuring. It confirms we are really walking with the living God. Accordingly, Jesus says: “I tell you this now before it happens, so that when it happens you will believe I am the Messiah.” (John 13:19).
Under the Sea
No matter how many chapters of the bible I read, the Holy Spirit asks me to read one more. One night, I read Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, and finally Jonah. Then I told the Lord I was going to bed. But not before engaging him on the issue of Jonah. I said: “Father, you are too much. How did you keep a man alive in the belly of a fish? Your ways are truly unsearchable.”
I went upstairs into my bedroom. As soon as my body touched the bed, the heavens were opened and I found myself lying on the sea-shore. In front of me was what looked like a giant aquarium with rolling waves of the sea. Then this sea-aquarium moved gradually towards me until I was completely submerged in it. To my astonishment, there I was, under the sea, enclosed in an air bubble. In this manner, God showed me how he kept Jonah alive in the belly of a great fish.
The first thing I saw looked like an eel; causing me to cringe with fear. But I quickly reasoned that my fears would jeopardise the vision. Therefore, I said to the Lord: “I won’t be afraid. Please show me whatever you want to show me.”
That seemed to be the cue for the emergence of an incredible array of fishes of different designs and architecture. They were all in very supernaturally deep colours, and the water was brightly lit by an invisible light. I watched this procession in awe and wonder until I was finally washed ashore in what seemed to be a European coastland.
However, on the shore was the building the Lord gave me in Lagos. In front of it were a large number of children from different countries and of different races; all playing and running around. I concluded that the Lord was giving me a ministry with international branches. Then the vision rolled away and I was back there on my bed.
I used to own the largest and most successful video-rental chain in Nigeria. However, my meeting with God was so dramatic; I feared he would ask me to close down the business. I was reluctant to entertain this because I was making a lot of money from it.
Soon, the Lord reassured me he would never ask me to close down my business. It took me forever to realise exactly what he meant by this. Since I knew he wanted me to close it down, he wanted me to do so myself; without his having to tell me. By not obeying, I became like Jonah who went down to Tarshish when the Lord wanted him to go to Nineveh.
Finally, after ten years, I closed down all the branches of Videonet in one fell swoop in one day; then I became a pauper. However, Jesus says: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” (Luke 6:20).
After seven years of poverty, during which God even barred me from using the building he gave me commercially; he finally told me to establish a crèche there. There is nothing like getting a business suggestion from God. You approach it in the confidence that it will succeed above and beyond your wildest imagination. So I poured a lot of borrowed money into the venture.
But after having done so, the crèche flopped. In two years, it had less than 20 children. The expenditure far exceeded the income. Nevertheless, the counsel of God is not mediated through results.
One day, two foreign ladies came to see me. They claimed to be teachers at the oldest multinational crèche in Lagos which, strategically, was only ten minutes’ drive from mine. Their crèche was closing down. The proprietor was retiring and going back to England. Having looked around for alternative location, they proposed that all the children and staff of their crèche should be transferred into mine free of charge; lock, stock and barrel.
That is how God gave me the inheritance of the oldest multinational crèche in Lagos. On the arrival of the new children and staff, I came to my crèche that fateful morning and could not believe my eyes. In front of me was the vision the Lord had given me over ten years earlier. There were all these children from all over the world (over 70 of them), running and playing around in our playground. The only difference was that it was not in a European city, as I had presumed. It was here in Lagos.
Some months later, I got a visit from representatives of one of the most prestigious international firms of auditors in the world. Their head-office is just a stone-throw from my crèche. They told me they had decided to make my Nouveau Crèche their official crèche. They would send me 20 babies of their staff-members to start with. Another reputable firm, an outsourcing organisation, also offered to send me another 20 babies. Overnight, the Lord transformed my struggling outfit into one of the more successful multinational crèches in Lagos.
The revelation did not end there. In 2012, my wife had to undergo surgery for a detached retina. After the operation, a friend of ours treated us to an all-expenses paid trip to Dubai. He flew us there first class and lodged us at the Kempinski Hotel, which adjoins the second biggest mall in the city. At the mall is a big giant aquarium, full of all manner of fishes. It is one of the major attractions in Dubai, visited by many camera-toting tourists every day.
But when I saw the aquarium, I could not be flabbergasted like everybody else. Instead, I burst into tears. There in front of me was a very poor copy of the vision God had given me years earlier. The fishes in Dubai seemed all bleached in colour by comparison. The supernatural light that suffused my Jonah revelation was not there.
The evidence was incontestable. Everything here on earth is a very poor imitation of what exists in the kingdom of God. Jesus says: “Blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear.” (Matthew 13:16).