In college, I took a psychology class called Sensation and Perception. Sensation is the physical detection of a stimulus (e.g. sound waves, light waves, heat, pressure), while perception is the organization and interpretation of these stimuli to allow us to “make sense” of the things around us. Many have seen images and games like the one below, illustrations that show us how our brain sometimes misinterprets or only partially interprets the things we see.
With technology nowadays, our minds are bombarded by stimuli that can deceive us. This weekend, my 6-year-old was watching a you tube video of a girl around 9 “driving” a car around town. It was obvious to me that this was some sort of video trick but explaining and proving this to him was nearly impossible. My 13-year-old even tried to make her own video of a car driving all by itself to show him how part of it was done but he just couldn’t grasp how what he saw so clearly wasn’t real.
And isn’t this true of us and God? We think we can know and understand everything in the world around us. We think we see things clearly. Yet His Word reminds us again and again that we cannot. The end of Isaiah 40:38 says “his understanding no one can fathom” and stories throughout the Old and New Testaments show this.
In Genesis 16, Sarah thinks that she and Abraham are getting too old to have the baby the Lord promised so she asked him to sleep with her maidservant so they could start a family, not trusting and seeing God’s plan.
Don’t we so often not trust his plan today?
In 1 Samuel 16, Samuel is looking for the one the Lord has chosen to be King and the Lord says to him in verse 7, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
And don’t we see only the outward appearance yet act as though we can see the heart clearly?
In John 18, Peter thought he saw clearly when he went to draw the sword to defend Jesus from the Pharisees but Jesus rebuked him in verse 11, saying “”Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
Don’t we jump too quickly to fight for God instead of waiting for His direction?
In Matthew 20, the mother of James and John requests that Jesus allow them to sit at His right and left side in His kingdom and Jesus tells her “You don’t know what you are asking.”
Don’t we ask for things that look good from our perspective but are not what we think?
In Luke 13:10-17, Jesus heals a woman of sickness on the Sabbath, the Pharisees rebuke Him, and Jesus says “You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water? This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?”
How often do we think we know best and yet completely miss the point?
In Matthew 7:3-5, Jesus says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
What are the planks in your eyes today? Will you take some time to ask God to show you the ways that your planks are making it hard for you to see clearly? Whether it be your spouse’s “angry” tone, your child’s “defiant” behavior, the “impatience” of the person in line behind you, or the latest political scandal.
Ask Him to help you to see the situation through His eyes.
Ask Him to help you to trust Him even when you can’t see clearly.
Ask Him to help you to wait for Him before taking out your sword.
Ask Him to help you see ways your perspective keeps you from seeing the whole picture.
Ask Him to show you how you may be missing the point.
Ask Him to remind you to take the plank out of your eye before removing the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Pray as the Psalmist prayed:
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.