Years ago, someone had the wrong perception about me. They discovered that I was a long-time Beatles fan, which was an appalling flaw, apparently, since I was a leader in the church. Another time, someone was shocked to see me laughing and dancing around with my small grandchildren at a social event. They had the perception that Christians weren’t supposed to have fun. More recently, there have been some who frown upon my current lack of church affiliation, as if that were an indication of declining spiritual commitment. All these perceptions were and are based on people’s personal belief systems and not on actual conversations with me. In most cases, they didn’t really know me at all.
Perception: The act of perceiving or of receiving impressions by the senses; or that act or process of the mind which makes known an external object (Webster’s Dictionary 1828).
We all have notions and ideas – perceptions – that came along for the ride as we grew up. These were formed as a result of what we saw around us, what we were told by our parents, teachers, friends, or the media. While many of our perceptions may have been based on fact and are therefore correct, a whole lot of them were not. We act on those perceptions and they become what we believe. Then we become what we believe.
Think about God the Father and what you believe about Him. Is He going to reject you unless you come to Him in a certain way or believe the right things about Him? Will He love you less if you don’t measure up to the standards of the world, the church, your family, or most of all, His expectations of you? Does that specific sin cancel your ticket to heaven?
You probably answered no to those questions because, of course, everyone knows that God doesn’t operate that way, right? But come on, who hasn’t heard the “God is going to be so disappointed in you” phrase, whether it be a voice in your head or from someone else.
And so, another question arises. Do you believe and know the Father God? Or do you perceive and so believe and trust something else?
Really knowing God for myself – not someone else’s perception of Him – is an ongoing game-changer. It’s an amazing process. I spent most of my life listening to other people tell me about God, the bible and what His will was for me, and I just accepted it all until it became my perception too. It was gaining knowledge about Him rather than an experience of knowing Him. There’s such a difference. When I allowed myself to respond to the nudging of the Holy Spirit and put aside all those notions and ideas (perceptions) of who I thought He was so I could know and experience Him for who He really is, I also began to know myself in Christ.
Discovering who you really are – who God created you to be in Him – will lead you out of old ways of thinking which keep you convinced that you aren’t who you are. These are Satan’s weapons. Deception. Lies. Surrendering old thought patterns (perceptions) can be scary to your mind, and the devil knows it. Who do you think put the fear there in the first place? When you introduce something new, the neurons in your brain throw up warning flags. It takes work to change how you think. It’s always easier to give up and not make the effort. But there is no victory in that.
For me, there was, and still is opposition. Opposition from others who cling tightly to their perceptions and tell me I’m heading down a dangerous path. Opposition from within – the fight to dredge up my own perceptions and look at them through God’s microscope. Change is hard. Questioning why I believe what I believe is hard, and it’s a process that doesn’t always have simple answers.
But I trust my Father, so I think I’m in pretty good hands. I know He is real. I know He hears me. I know He speaks to me. I know He is in me and around me all the time. I know He loves me and cares about what I think and feel and do.
He is good.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Psalm 34:8 (NKJV)
Another translation puts it this way:
Drink deeply of the pleasures of this God. Experience for yourself the joyous mercies he gives to all who turn to hide themselves in him. Psalm 34:8 (TPT)
If you’re looking for me, I’m hiding in Him.