Everyone has seen those lovely pharmaceutical commercials that advertise anything from decongestants to antidepressants, that have the best looking people in the the most beautiful gardens or walking along a beach, smiling in the sun with the wind blowing through their perfect hair. The voice they use is soft, kind, friendly and caring. It's all about this drug that just might be the perfect one for you to finally be happy, just like these people you see and hear on the ad. And once they tell you how perfect you'll be, they start that familiar sounding list. "Common side effects may include: fatigue, dizziness, weakness, feeling light-headed; tired or loss of coordination, nose or throat irritation; nausea, constipation, diarrhea, upset stomach; or headache, muscle pain. aggression, suicidal thoughts or depression..."
But all the while, the camera still shows the beautiful scenery, the smiling woman hugging her adorable children, and the music lulls you into a daze as the sweet voice reading off those horrible side effects, just becomes background noise. Nobody wants to hear the yucky stuff, everybody wants to see the pretty stuff. And as ridiculous as we know it is, these commercials keep cranking out these same old rosy looking ads and their sales skyrocket. It's obviously all an illusion, but the ad companies know exactly what they're doing. They don't mind investing millions in these ads, because they know they'll get billions back. Human nature likes to be deceived.
There's a saying in the ad industry (so I hear, never been there) that perception is reality. What people perceive, even if they know logically that it can't be true, they'll act upon it because it felt true at the time. Coke is for the cool hipster crowd? I want it. Pepsi is blasé? Ewww, get it away from me. But on a blind taste test they rate equally in flavor. It's all in the perception, all in the ad campaign.
So you know where I'm going with this... the devil is the best Hollywood producer/director/screenwriter/actor that ever was. He knows how to create the most convincing perceptions that hit us at the core of our being.
A false perception could be: Your future looks so bleak, no one seems to care about you and it feels like none of your hard work has been noticed or appreciated by anyone. You want to just walk out and you don't even know where you'd go. But you don't see that just a few changes in your behavior, a few kind words, a show of support and encouragement could start the process to turn everything around. Your family can be happy, your children can become loving and affectionate, and its all just waiting under the surface for someone to act by faith. But the perception of bleakness is so heavy...
Or: You are doing so great. You are the best at your job. You're so on top of your game, you have no idea how you keep getting better, but you do! Don't get distracted with church or God right now, you're on a roll and you're too smart to mess up what you've go going. But meanwhile your wife is drowning her depression in alcohol, and you can't see that your company is about to go bankrupt in the year to come. But you know you're the man...!
The only perception that matters is God's Word. It's a mirror that reflects back upon who we truly are, and also what we truly can become. Some things we see make us ashamed of how proud and self-centered we are, but other things are so amazingly great and beautiful that we are even afraid to believe they could possibly be true. If we have no standard for truth, we'll always choose our perceptions as reality, because we won't know better. The Word of God has to be our foundation, to pull us back and give us the right lens to see the world through.
One of my favorite stories is of Elisha the prophet who was so close to God, he would know the plots and plans of the enemies of Israel before they had a chance to implement them. He would report their plans to his king, so that the enemies plans were always foiled. When the king of Aram found out about this prophet, he was furious and wanted to have him killed. Stupidly he didn't connect the dots - if a prophet is being told my plans of attack by God Himself, what chance to I stand against him? But he didn't ask that question and just marched out his armies to surround the little hut where Elisha and his servant were living. The servant looked out the window at this huge army with hoses and chariots and full battle gear, waiting to chop off Elisha's head. The poor guy was terrified, but Elisha was just fine. Elisha had a totally different perception of what was going on that day.
Elisha felt sorry for his servant, and asked God to open his eyes. Immediately the servant saw a sight he had not imagined. Behind the armies of Aram, was an even greater army. It was a massive army of angels that covered the hillsides with flaming chariots of fire. Elisha sauntered out of his house, prayed for God to strike them blind, and the whole army of Aram went blind because of his faith. He told them to follow him, and they had to stumble along as he led them to Samaria, into the stronghold of the king of Israel. Now they were captives, and no longer attackers. "Shall I kill them?" asked the king to his prophet. Elisha knew that better than killing these men, would be to embarrass them. So after removing their blindness, he had the king prepare a feast to feed them, filled their stomachs with delicious food, and sent them home like little lost boys. Their perception of the people of God drastically changed that day. And they never attacked Israel again. THE END.