Perception; December 13, 2022

Luke 1:62-63 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.”

The total lack of understanding shown here of the people about handicaps has always struck me. I don’t know that people today are that much better. Zechariah was not deaf, he was just unable to speak. There was no reason for them to “make signs to him” to ask him a question. This is just another example of the insensitivity that is so common throughout mankind. We have our mental frameworks, and anyone or anything that falls outside of those frameworks is not understood, or even not perceived. Even the prophets had trouble with this, when God showed them visions that were totally outside of their normal experience. Ezekiel and Daniel come to mind, as well as John on Patmos. They recorded as best they could, but they had no clear context, other than their lives to that point, to identify what they actually were seeing. It’s relatively easy to recognize this sort of thing in others, but we are generally blind to it in ourselves. We need to constantly ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate and explain what we are seeing and experiencing, but we have Jesus’ word that He will do exactly that. (John 14:26) Our biggest job is simply to be aware that we don’t grasp the whole picture, and so depend on the One who does.

I have experienced this from many angles. Living in Japan I have seen countless cross-cultural misperceptions. I could probably write a book on them! As a pastor and teacher I have seen very many medical misperceptions. One that I always quote to my medical students is the discovery that people in deep comas can sometimes hear, understand, and remember what is said to them. A young man in my church in the US was in a car accident and entered a deep coma after a traffic accident. When he came out of the coma six weeks later his family was astonished that he remembered all the things I had said to him in my frequent visits. We don’t know what others are perceiving, and we often don’t recognize what we are perceiving! I need to remember that at all times, not getting angry or lashing out at people but remembering that they are acting congruently with how they perceive things. I need to pray for them and for me to understand things as God knows them to be, because none of us perceives perfectly.

Father, thank You for this reminder. I too am very self-centered in my understanding of things, assuming that my perception is right. Help me have the humility to seek You in order to gain Your perception, so that I may speak and act as an instrument of Your grace, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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