“You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.”
“You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand?”
“Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Matthew 16:3, 8-9, 23 (NIV)
Over the winter months this chapter-a-day trek journeyed through the writings of the ancient prophet Isaiah. One of the many relevant and memorable take aways for me from that trek was this:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
On my ceaseless pursuit to observe and plug-in to the flow of what God is doing around me, I am constantly aware of my finite limitations to see, perceive, and know. Today’s chapter is another good reminder.
The religious leaders came with their hearts and minds closed, testing Jesus by asking for a “sign from heaven,” as if all the miracles Jesus had publicly performed were not evidence enough. Jesus walked away. “You don’t get it.”
The disciples had now been following Jesus for some time. They’d been continuously, listening, following, learning, and working together. Jesus had spoken incessantly in parables and word pictures for months. He’d even interpreted parables for them on a constant basis. The boys still couldn’t make the mental shift to think in metaphor. You can almost hear Jesus’ frustration when he says, “You still don’t understand?”
Peter even makes a huge declarative leap of faith to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. Yet in the very next moment Peter proves how little he really knows as he tries to get in the way of Jesus’ real mission. “Peter, you’re only seeing from your own self-centered perspective. You really have no clue.”
Those who didn’t really want to see remained blind.
Those who really wanted to see still didn’t fully perceive.
The one who saw in part still revealed a skewed perspective.
This morning I’m reminded of what little I see, how poorly I perceive, and how skewed that perception can be from my own self-interested perspectives. I’d like to stand in judgment thinking that I’m more open than the religious leaders, sharper than the dull-witted disciples, and more perceptive than Peter. But, I confessed earlier in this post that I’m ceaselessly pursuing, seeking, and struggling to perceive. I certainly have no room to judge.
My prayer today is that I can honestly embrace God’s message through Isaiah. I don’t fully perceive the mind of God, nor do I comprehend all that God does. At least today’s chapter reminds me that I’m in good company.
I take solace in the fact that Jesus did not reject His motley crew of followers or strip Peter of the mantel of leadership that He’d just laid on the ol’ bass master. Jesus urged His followers on, and they changed the world. I think I’ll just keep pressing on and pursuing God’s flow despite my acute lack of perception. Maybe God will use me to accomplish a little something along the journey, as well.
Featured photo courtesy of Jenny-pics via Flickr