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RELIGION: Perception vs. reality

by Gene Linzey | April 21, 2021 at 5:22 a.m.

"I don't believe my eyes!"

"What are you seeing that you don't believe? Or are you trying to be funny again?"

I suppose I tease a lot, and even after being married almost 55 years Carol sometimes doesn't know when to take me seriously.

"Look out the window. There's a round light with a flat top. Its side has an oval, fuzzy decoration. And it's floating just beneath the big pine tree in the back yard. It isn't a flying saucer or a UFO."

"You don't believe in them anyway."

"I know, but this is strange. Where's my camera?"

"In your pocket."

I hadn't taken my eyes off this ... whatever it is ... and I wanted to get a picture of it. But when I put the cell phone to the window to take a picture, the image disappeared.

"It's gone. What happened?"

When I moved away from the window, it reappeared. I suddenly realized what it might be and looked around.

"Precious," I told Carol, "we've lived in this house for 11 years. We put in this big window 10 years ago. And the light in the front hallway has been there all the time. But I've never seen it's reflection in this window before today."

"We normally don't turn it on during the day when the curtains are pulled back."

"Very observant. But look at the reflection."

"It looks like something real floating under that branch."

Still wanting a picture of my mystery light, I positioned myself a little differently and got the picture I wanted. It looked very much like a large Christmas bulb hanging underneath a Christmas tree. The fuzzy decoration was the blurred reflection of a floral arrangement painted on the side of the round light fixture.

At first, I perceived it as a real object, and my camera (cell phone) got a picture of it, but it was only a reflection -- an apparition.

What have you observed that appears real but may be merely an apparition? Let me mention several ideas that I've heard and see if you identify with them.

Financial security. There's nothing wrong with gaining financial stability. We are wise to plan for the future, including for retirement. But throughout history, money has disappeared like that light under my pine tree. Stock markets around the world have crashed. Expenses due to sickness have soaked up saving accounts. Casinos have gladly emptied people's bank accounts. You can think up many other scenarios.

Business ownership. I am definitely in favor of free enterprise. The United States of America has been the home of millions of entrepreneurs who created companies that have given financial security to countless millions of people and have helped make America a great nation. And, indeed, a great many owners became prosperous and retired with an abundance of wealth. But many businesses fail. The average failure rate is 20% within the first year, and up to 50% within five years. Like the light under the tree, businesses disappear.

Tree branches. I cut several branches off the trees in our back yard. When the grandkids saw them two weeks later, the younger one exclaimed, "Grandpa, the branches are still alive. We could plant them and make some new trees." I explained that the needles on pine tree branches will stay green for almost a month after it was cut off the tree. The branches look alive, but they're really dead. Appearances are deceiving.

Financial security and business ownership are wonderful, and grants freedom from worry. I thank the Lord for the employment I've had through the years that has enabled me to have a home, food, cars, and the rest of our abundance. I'm thankful for green trees, and for all the rest of our blessings.

But when our blessings disappear, when our securities vanish, when our health turns sour, when our lives become unstable, when all that we perceive to be real dissolves, what should we do?

For those of us who have a dynamic relationship with God and have been trusting Him for our REAL security, the disappearing lights are disappointments but are not personally destructive. Our faith is not in temporal things that can vanish, but in Jesus Christ. In Hebrews 13:5, Jesus is quoted as saying, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."

And He won't. Therefore, get to know Jesus and put your trust and your faith in Him. He is no apparition; He is Alive!

-- S. Eugene Linzey is the author of 'Charter of the Christian Faith.' Send comments and questions to [email protected] Visit his website at The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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