When we were in Oregon, there were so many beautiful places to take pictures, it was hardly possible to do the scenery justice through pictures. There were the stark, seemingly dead places where volcanic eruptions had erased the vegetation, but even in the places where the trees had sustained incredible damage, there was beauty.
One such place was Lava Butte just outside Bend, Oregon where we came across this tree.
The contrast between its barren limbs and the flourishing evergreens nearby made me think about the incredible strength of nature. And then I saw a yellow bird on the tree’s limb. I didn’t have any idea what kind of bird it was, but it appeared to be resting before going off to further exploits of this land.
When we got home, I looked at the pictures, again thanking the Lord for the beauty of His creation. Trying to identify the yellow bird, I enlarged the picture above, and this is what I saw:
Apparently this “bird” is of the genus “Lady Taking a Picture”.
Perception/Illusion versus Reality.
There are times when we think something is one way, when the reality is that it is quite another. I perceived that a brightly colored bird was sitting on that branch, when the reality was that a lady in a bright shirt was standing beyond the tree taking a picture at the same time I was taking a picture of her. My perception was certainly not reality, but it was harmless and funny.
But the difference between perception or illusion and reality is not always harmless or humorous.
We see people harming innocents and calling it justified because of their hatred. We see people abusing others in the name of ambition. We see the slaughter of babies that somehow becomes less offensive by calling it a “woman’s choice.” This is our perception – but the reality is vastly different.
O LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exult? They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast. They crush your people, O LORD, and afflict your heritage. They kill the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless; and they say, “The LORD does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive.” Understand, O dullest of the people! Fools, when will you be wise? He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see? He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke? He who teaches man knowledge– the LORD–knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath.
God sees –God hears – God is fully aware of what mankind is doing. He is sovereign and in control, even when it appears that things are out of control. He knows the thoughts of man because He created man. The fool is the one who dismisses God as irrelevant or of no concern.
There are times we feel powerless against the foes that confront us. This too is a perception that we are led to believe – but it is not the reality for the Christian. Elisha and his servant confronted the army of the enemy and we read the following about this encounter in the book of Second Kings where it says:
When the servant of the man of God [Elisha] rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
2 Kings 6:15-17.
Elisha was not worried about the forces against them. The problem was that the servant believed the perception that they were defenseless.
In the book of Romans, Paul talks about perception and reality when he tells the Romans that God has revealed Himself through creation but man chooses to believe the lie Satan promotes.
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
- Don’t believe the lie that if your good outweighs your bad, you will get to heaven. In Romans 10:3-18 Paul states that “”None is righteous, no, not one”.
- Don’t believe the lie that all you need is to get along, love everyone and do your best.
- Don’t believe the lie that this world is all there is, so get all you can because God wants you to be wealthy and to have all that you desire.
- Don’t believe the lie that since God is love there will be no judgment.
- Don’t believe the lie that hell is not real and the concept of eternal damnation is ridiculous.
Both the Old and New Testaments describe God’s response to sin and disobedience, and it is powerful, fierce and just! God’s wrath is upon sinful mankind … only His mercy is stopping His hand from executing judgment on sinful man this very moment!
While you are not righteous, and while you cannot wash your sin away, Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection has paid the sinner’s debt and that freedom from sin is available through God’s grace. Paul says:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Perception/illusion versus Reality. In that battle, reality wins every time and Reality has a name – the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent triune God!
Father, forgive me when I have believed Satan’s lies that You do not care, or that You have no plan for me, or that You do not love me. Enable me to see the protection that You place around me, and grant me the grace to reach outside my comfort zone so I can extend your love and compassion to others, through your Spirit and in the power of the name of Jesus Christ.