Perception or Reality?


When God told Moses to send men into Canaan, the land promised to the Israelites, there was purpose in the exploration. Moses instructed them to report back what they found once they got there. He also asked them to bring proof of the fruit that grew in the land. God had already promised that the land was fertile, that it was flowing with milk and honey. However, the people wanted evidence.

They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is the fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large.” Numbers 13:27-28

When the report came back to Moses and the people that indeed the land was rich, just as the Lord had promised, fear crawled in and took its grip on their hearts. I hate to admit it, but I can so identify with these people! I have consciously acknowledged God’s promise, seen evidence of His faithfulness, and I still got hung up on a “but.”

The truth is that God allowed it all to happen according to His awesome and perfect plan. And His plan involved tackling a perceived impossible thing: a powerful and strong people. Numbers 13:33 says, ”There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” (NKJV) The people were so focused on themselves instead of the God who promised to lead them that they could not get past their own perception of the situation or their own view of themselves.

The Israelites got hung up thinking that their own efforts would determine the outcome. They quickly lost sight that God knew this land was occupied by this mighty group of people. It was all part of His plan to make sure the people recognized that only by His hand were they able to take the Promised Land.

It is so easy to point out the Israelites’ mistakes, but I catch myself doing the same thing. I look at the situation I’m in from time to time and determine ahead of time how it will turn out and believe in my own perception of the issue instead of trusting God to do something remarkable.

There is a similar story in the book of Mark. Jesus called his disciples to climb in a boat and sail to the other side of the lake. Before they reached the shore, a furious storm came upon them. Listen to the disciples’ fear ring out as they question Jesus:

“Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’” Mark 4:38

Their perception was that Jesus was not aware of the certain death that seemed to be waiting for them. Their perception was that He did not care. The reality is that He is always in control. And He always cares. Had they not been overcome with fear, they may not have jumped so quickly to this conclusion, but their perception caused them to believe that they needed to take action and wake Jesus. The reality is that the disciples’ efforts did little to stop the storm.

Ever been there? Ever caught yourself thinking it was your job to calm the storm? Ever allowed something to hinder your faith that God really is in control? He is the Maker of all, so if you are looking around, wondering if He knows what you are going through, He does. He knows. He cares.

I remember the time when I was blinded by my own perception. It was a time when I believed my efforts could change the hurt my heart was experiencing. I had gotten pregnant after what felt like an eternity of months, each slipping by with a negative test and a heavier burden. Early in my pregnancy, we learned that something was wrong. I miscarried shortly after. It was just a few days before my husband’s thirtieth birthday. We had a big party planned for him, and all of our friends and entire family were planning to attend.

I was in no mood for a crowd, nor a celebration. But, determined to carry on, in my own strength, I plastered a smile on my face and told myself I was going to be fine. I was determined to have a good time, at least for my husband’s sake. Moments before the party started, the beaded necklace around my neck began to unravel and hot pink beads spilled out everywhere onto the floor. It wasn’t even a special necklace, but upon watching that slow motion spill, I sank to my knees and started sobbing. I managed to utter out, “I can’t do this.”

My mom, unsure of what to say, just hugged me. I felt like that necklace. I perceived my life as unraveling, wildly out of my control. I believed that I had to do something to fix it. But I was never in control in the first place. God was. God is. My vision had gone blurry in the midst of my sorrow. Philippians 4:13 is one of my favorite verses. It says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” When I finally admitted to myself that I couldn’t do it alone and allowed God to take over, He immediately began a work of healing in my heart. He never intends for us to do life alone, apart from Him. I thought I needed to just be stronger. The reality is that God wanted to use my weakness to display His strength.

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10

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