Friday, September 22, 2017

I Swear It's An Invisibility Mask!

My son has a very active imagination. When he was younger, one of his favorite things to do was to take a mundane object from around the house and decide from then on that it was something very exciting. The plastic ruler became a sword that has to be held a particular way all the time. The spy glasses from the Happy Meal became a mask that made him invisible and if you claimed to see him while he was wearing those spy glasses, he would tell you in all seriousness that you were wrong because the glasses made him invisible. Whatever his imagination decided was what the item became forever, and if you had the audacity to ask him to put it away and call it by its real name, he would act like he didn't know what you were talking about. You couldn't ask him to put away the spy glasses, you had to ask him to put away his mask of invisibility. At that age, it was still kind of cute. But when adults do it, there is something a little disturbing about it.

In the book of Isaiah, God was speaking through the prophet about his people who wanted the world to be the way they imagined it and not the way it really was. He described them this way: They are a rebellious people, deceptive children, children who do not want to obey the Lord’s instruction. They say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy the truth to us. Tell us flattering things. Prophesy illusions (Isaiah 30:9-10, HCSB). The people in the passage wanted safety to be something they could find easily by fleeing to Egypt, but safety was found in facing their sin and trusting God's instructions. Because they enjoyed the thought of their own imagined world better, they would tell the prophets, just like my son would tell me, "Don't tell me the way things really are. Just reinforce my own illusions."

I've discovered, as much as we want to deny it, we still behave this way quite a bite. When someone tries to tell us that we're being unreasonable and we get angry and refuse to listen because they're not being supportive (who cares if they're right?), when we dismiss what the preacher has to say because we're uncomfortable with the standards he proclaims (so what if they come from scripture?), when we blame our child's behavior problems on the teacher (it's just a coincidence every teacher he's had was a bad one, right?), we are saying, "Don't tell me the way things are. I like the imaginary world I've created and I'm not leaving it."

The problem with refusing to acknowledge reality is that reality will still acknowledge us. We may refuse to admit we're being unreasonable, but the people around us still know it's true. We may insist our child doesn't have the behavior problem, but he's still going to get in trouble with next year's teacher, too. So, rather than try to maintain our own little world, as scary as it can be, we must face reality. As embarrassing as it might be to admit that you're wrong, pretending you're right just makes you look worse.

Don't try to silence the truth when people share it with you. Don't be afraid to face the way things really are. You can only live in your own imaginary world for so long before it comes crashing down around you.

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