Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | June 1, 2012

Perceptions Change, by David Bower

Time is Speeding Up

OK! OK! I know time really isn’t speeding up but sometimes it honestly feels that way to me; it seems as if the older I get the faster time goes by. Do any of you have that feeling too?

The weeks, the months and even the years are just flashing by as I think back on my life. Our children are in their 50’s, how can that be possible; I remember so vividly when they were just little children and now they have adult children of their own, that’s startling when I think about it.

When I see a young woman with her child walking down the street one of the first things that comes to my mind is how brief a time it has been since the mother was the child’s age. As I approach 80, the passage of 20 – 25 years does not seem to be a very long time.

I suppose this is all involved with the way we perceive the passage of time and as we’ve all heard, “perception is everything.” Our perception of life is a learned quality and is dependent on our social environment, our cultural heritage, our general upbringing and our age among other things; it has a profound impact on the way we view people and circumstances.

Thinking in Stereotypes

I have always been intrigued by the way many people, it appears, try to hastily assess other people. Although they may have little or no factual information about the other person some try and produce a label for them so they can pigeon hole them and move on to whatever catches their attention next.

A good example of that occurred when our children were in high school. At that particular high school the kids were placed in one of three groups by the other students: the heads, the kickers, or the jocks. If a particular student wasn’t a really good fit for any of those groups they would be squeezed into the closest group that seemed to fit.

On reflection that approach does seem childish but sadly one still finds that among adults who prefer to quickly classify people by some preconceived notions of dress, speech or mannerisms. I have occasionally commented to Bible classes I’ve taught how strange it is that the only part of us that has not been redeemed just happens to be the only part that can be seen, our physical bodies.

The Visible is Not the Most Meaningful Part of Who We Are

When we look at one another all we can see is the temporary tent we are occupying which is, in fact, in the process of returning to the dust from whence it came. My recent work as an online missionary has brought this forcefully to my mind.

I connect via the internet with a large number of Christian brothers and sisters all over the world that I’ll never see in person in this life. I have no idea how they look and must form my impressions of them by what they write.

This has brought home to me the relative unimportance of our appearance by comparison with what we think and the nature of our priorities.  For me these precious souls are letters and words wherein they express their hopes and fears. They obviously have bodies but the appearance of their bodies never enters into the matter.

I have frequently reflected on the complete lack of a physical description of Jesus in the Bible. We are given no clue whatsoever as to how Jesus might have looked; it is who He is and what He did and is doing that counts, not how He looked.

I must admit I have somewhat mixed emotions when I see paintings of Jesus, idealized in the mind of some artist to reflect the qualities they suppose He must have had. I fear this may be presumptuous to paint the physical appearance of the Son of God; we’ll know in due time what He looks like.

The Time Perspective

Another thing I’ve noticed is the way individuals of various ages see people and circumstances in distinctly different time frames. Younger people seem to be able to isolate an evening and the individuals involved in that evening into an independent box of time and view all of the components as they exist only in the context of this brief span of time; how they look and act at that moment seems to be the totality of who they are. The evening is the beginning and the end of the event and it’s as if once the event is over the people as they appear cease to exist or become someone else.

As the years pass by that ability seems to be lost; it has become normal and natural for me to see people as total human beings with a past, present, and future; I cannot isolate the present from the past and the future. The fleeting nature of life presses upon my thinking; the time we have on earth seems like the brief flicker of a candle.

I’m reminded of Psalm 103:15-16, “As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.”

Psalm 103:17-18 offers words of comfort, “But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children–with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.”

I find it very exciting when I consider our mortal lives are but a prelude and death is our doorway to eternal life with our Lord Jesus Christ. What a rich blessing, what a glorious future!

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