You know that saying, “seeing is believing”? Well, I have decided that I think that is a false statement. There are plenty of times that people see something and simply can’t believe it. And there are plenty of other times where people have seen something and thought it was something else entirely (ex. UFOs). I would like to suggest that as a culture we amend the statement from “seeing is believing” to “perceiving is believing.” After all its what we think about what we see that affects what we believe, right? How we process our sight is what really matters.
I started thinking about this after I read some new insight into the passage in the Bible where Jesus has a two-part healing of the blind man. The insight came from the book “Experience More of God by Bill & Booram. Its a book about experiencing God with our senses and the particular part I read today was about sight.
Anywho, let me summarize the Bible passage and then share with you the insight that followed. So, some people bring a blind man to Jesus and ask him to heal him. Jesus then spits on the guys eyes (eww) and puts his hands on him and asks if he can see anything. The man responds, “I see people, they look like trees walking around.” So Jesus puts his hand on him again and after that he is able to “see clearly.”
When I first read this passage I thought, “how could Jesus make a mistake and not heal him properly the first time?” But after observing the intentional nature of how Jesus did things I was forced to conclude it must not be a mistake but done on purpose. So my next question became, why would Jesus not heal him fully the first time, why was this a two-part healing?
In seeking an answer to that question I came up with a couple of new insights. Firstly, that healing (or perhaps I might venture to say perceiving) is indeed often a process and not something that comes in perfectly on our first try. I think this healing was a mini-parable illustrating the things that are going on for Jesus’ disciples at the same point as this story in Mark. For example, they had to learn several times that Jesus could provide for them bread at will (feeding the 5000, then the 4000, then the bread on the boat). What he says to them as they keep failing to get it is: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?”
Do you have eyes but fail to see? In other words, “you see, but still you do not perceive.” So the second insight of the 2-part healing of the blind man is that we can be healing physically, just as his eyes were able to see when he opened them, but it is often a separate healing that needs to adjust our perceptions. How would them man even known to say I see people but they look like trees? How would he know what people or trees look like? Maybe he thought trees looked like people and just needed new isight into what was what.
All that to say, what we believe about what we see is important because it shapes our reality. Its scary to think that I could be looking at things and seeing but not really perceiving what is going on. Our perceptions affect the ways we behave. If I perceive something as dangerous, I approach with caution, or don’t approach at all… but if its not really dangerous, if its a puppy lets say, and I have never interacted with a dog before… then I might miss out on the playful lick it offers as a hello.
Maybe take a second to think about areas where you operate out of your assumptions, and ask God for a healing of your perspective.
And just for fun… what do you see in the image below?
Can you see both the old and young woman?