By Robyn Chapman
On Kentucky Derby Day, as I looked out my backdoor at how quickly the clouds were moving, I immediately saw one that looked like a thoroughbred. I guess I had racehorses on the brain. About as quickly as I noticed it, the cloud shifted and changed, but something stuck with me in that moment. We see what we want to see.
I saw a racehorse on Derby Day because I had been thinking about it being Derby Day. We often see things we expect to see.
It’s called motivated perception. How we see things is often selective and based on our beliefs and desires.
Basically, we’re biased, and it alters what and how we see things.
As I dwelt on this concept in the days that followed, I couldn’t help but think about how we see God. Does our perception of God work the same way?
I thought about all those kings in the Old Testament. Some of them followed God and did what was right. Others, well they were an absolute mess that did the exact opposite. I was reminded of the Israelites coming out of Egypt, wandering in the desert, and getting so angry at God when they got hungry or thirsty.
How could they see God show up repeatedly and still doubt Him and not see His goodness? How can I? Ouch.
How do we see God? Do we see Him as just the means to an end? As a good story? As a last resort when life is shifting, and we need something solid? Hopefully, we see Him as an active part of our lives.
I prayed about this and sat quietly, all noises off, phone in another room, journal in my lap, and listened for God. Sometimes when I do that, lots of words flow. That day the only words that made their way to the paper were “unchanging God.”
I looked at those words on the paper for a long time, and it began to clear in my mind. I can’t speak for those Israelites or all those assorted kings with names I can’t pronounce, though I would wager they had the same struggle that I often do - a tendency to focus more on outcomes and results than on God.
My friends, outcomes can change. Ever wonder how kids from the same genetic pool can be so different? Our perceptions of outcomes can change. Do we savor a victory against a weak opponent as much as we do against a strong one?
If we’re focused on anything other than God and His goodness, we can expect shifting and instability.
His goodness never changes. Our perception of it might, but He never does. I don’t know about you, but when I let my perceptions and expectations overwhelm my focus, I get turned around and lost. We can’t be surprised if a little motion sickness hits us when we’re focusing on things that shift.
Perhaps you’ve watched or can remember riding a carousel as a child and looking for your parent or adult to be in the same spot with each trip around. As you circled around riding up and down, everything seemed to move, but then when you whipped that head back around and found your person standing still in the same spot, it settled you.
Life is constantly changing and often bumpy. Let the words of Malachi 3:6 be a reminder for you to keep your eyes on what doesn’t change:
For I am the Lord, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.
Friends, don’t be deceived by shifting clouds in your world or your perception based on today’s outcomes. God is good, and He is unchanging. Don’t lose sight of that. It will keep you steady.