In a Chinese restaurant otherwise devoid of life, an elderly man sits alone. His mouth still burning from the kung pao chicken, he is relieved to see a young girl carrying a pitcher of water towards him. In her other hand is a small cellophane wrapper. She places it on the table while filling his glass. A non-descript, almost non-existent object, the man doesn’t even realize it’s there until he has cooled his tongue with the glass of water and is preparing to leave.
But there it is… a fortune cookie.
He almost ignores it. After all, he is not a superstitious man, never has been. Not once in all of his life did anyone notice him or pay attention to the fact of his existence. It was sheer lunacy to think that now, the universe had suddenly discovered him.
He was not a religious man, either. He knew the Bible, but simply didn’t believe it. He knew that Jesus supposedly died for the sins of the world, yet somehow, he was sure that Jesus had not died for his.
He was simply an old man who had never mattered to anyone, not even to himself. He never married because he knew he had nothing to offer a potential mate. He spent every day alone because he knew he had nothing to offer potential friends.
Now, with anger towards an empty universe, contempt for his empty life and bitterness in his empty heart, he waited to die.
While he waited, he decided to open his fortune cookie. Slowly, he removed the tiny paper and brought it up where he could read it. As the words passed through his eyes and into his soul, tears began to stream down his face.
The pain of those 7 words was worse than the lifetime of self-loathing and loneliness he had already experienced.
Because he knew it was true. Because suddenly, inexplicably, he knew he had no one else to blame for his life than himself.
His perception had become his reality.
The man in this story was fictional, but unfortunately, also very real. He had spent his entire life believing something that simply wasn’t true. He believed that he had nothing to offer and that there was no one who cared for him. Now, at the end of his life, he was finally able to understand that he was the cause of the sad, miserable life that he had led.
But it was too late now. He lived his life based on a false perception of himself. A false perception that was based on a choice he had made.
A choice that had cost him his life.
Perception Is Not Reality
It is very common nowadays to hear the phrase “perception is reality.” But is it, really? Is what we perceive to be true always true?
Of course not. Sometimes, we simply don’t have all of the facts. Other times, we have the facts, but we don’t know how to put them together to achieve actual truth.
And sometimes, our hearts and minds just flat-out lie to us.
Depression is a great example of that.
As someone who fights through periods of depression in my own life, I can truly say that when it comes upon me, it is nearly impossible for me to see anything except my own misery. I believe that nobody loves me, nobody cares for me, and everybody is out to hurt me. That’s the nature of depression.
But is it the truth? No. It is only my perception of the truth at that specific time. It can becomemy reality if I allow it, but it is not reality as Jesus sees it.
And the only way to really see the truth is to view it as Jesus sees it.
Circumstances & The Truth
I may see things one way and you may see them another, but there is One who sees them as they truly are. He offers the benefit of His spiritual eyes to us through simple faith in Him and His Word.
And that is the key to living beyond our perception. We simply must accept that there is a Truth greater than what we can perceive within the confines of our small minds, and reach out in faith to the One who can change our perception.
That’s what happened when:
Noah began building an ark in a world that had never seen rain before.
Abraham left his home without knowing where he was going.
Moses took the Israelites into the desert with no food, no water and no means to sustain them.
David took 5 smooth stones to fight a giant twice his size (maybe 3 times!)
John the Baptist went to live in the wilderness to prepare people for the coming of the Messiah.
They could have chosen to believe only their tiny perception of reality, or they could look through eyes of faith and see that God was calling them to do something that had never before been done.
God is calling people all around the world to do things that have never before been done.
Maybe He is calling you.
Do you want to reach the end of your life and look back and regret what you should have done, but didn’t do?
Or do you want to be counted as faithful to Him who called you to do a great work in the world today?
I know He is calling me. But I am afraid to take the next step. Because I am looking at the world through physical eyes only. Lord, give me Your vision. Give me Your spiritual eyes to see.
I pray for the faith to step out and the strength to be found faithful in your sight.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”