We tend to react only to what seems real to us. And as humans, we interpret reality primarily by what we can see. If it happens to be visible, it’s real. If not, it can’t be fully trusted.
But even science tells us that our sight perceives only a fraction of reality. Many “lower” animals perceive the world very adequately without the sight we experience. In fact, many of them sense vast portions of reality we never notice in our heavy dependence on sight.
For example, many animals live in a world of smell. They rely on it to find food, to find mates, and to protect themselves. Pigeons and salmon can apparently use scent to navigate great distances.
Other migrating animals, including certain butterflies and birds, seem to find their way across vast distances of unfamiliar territory simply by sensing the earth’s gravitational field.
Sharks, the platypus, and other species can sense electrical impulses in the bodies of their prey. Rattlesnakes and their fellow pit vipers find their prey through an organ that detects body heat. Bats can fly with incredible agility and accuracy, even picking insects out of midair in the dark, using their built-in ultrasonic radar.
Some animals and plants can predict the weather as well as we can, or even better. They know of coming thunderstorms, earthquakes, or volcanic eruptions because they can perceive electrical charges in the air, hear low-frequency vibrations, or feel tiny tremors to which we are oblivious.
Even in the area of sight, we are sometimes left in the dust. Birds of prey can clearly see what is almost invisible to us, even with our high-powered binoculars. And some insects see colors the human eye can’t distinguish.
All this reminds us that as physical beings, we humans operate on a heavily filtered version of reality. Sight alone leaves us in the dark in many, many respects. And if we perceive so little of what is real in a physical sense, imagine how little we perceive of the realities that are not dependent on matter.
That brings us to Hebrews 11. It talks about people who pleased God by trusting Him, despite the way things looked around them. Noah spent many years building an ark, based purely on God’s warnings about things not yet seen (v.7, NASB). Moses overcame all the trials and difficulties of leading Israel out of Egypt because he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen (v.27, NASB).
All these saints lived wisely and fruitfully by focusing on the reality of God’s presence. Almighty God was always with them. They knew it was true, and they acted like it, even though their eyes could not see Him.
I long to live that way, knowing and trusting that reality, living in full response to His personal presence with me. What a joy it would be to consistently act and react as seeing Him who is unseen (v.27, NASB).
I want to live and serve that way, to pray and worship, to think and talk as being immediately with Him always and forever.
We walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7, NASB)
Live in response to Sovereign God,
not in response to your childish fears.
Walk in the light of all He is,
not in the shadow of your own smallness.