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Isaiah 30:8-17, A Rebellious People

Friday, November 24

We Hear What We Want to Hear
and See What We Want to See

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

God has sent prophets to Israel so she might change her ways, but Israel is unreceptive to their harsh words. Instead, they want prophets to speak "smooth things," words of comfort and not of destruction. Sure, prophets were speaking both, but the people only heard what they wanted to hear. They only saw what they wanted to see. Until it was too late.

Human beings have an incredible capacity to overlook the things we don't want to to acknowledge. Sometimes these have devastating consequences. Like spouses ignoring the warning signs of distancing and isolation until one partner finally ends it. It's upsetting, but not always surprising, because the the signs were there, even though they were unwilling to see them. 

Trafton Drew, an attention researcher at Harvard Medical School, did a study where radiologists were were asked to study lung scans to find evidence of lung cancer. They were so focused on looking for the cancer, that 83% of them missed a gorilla on the scan.

Can you find the gorilla on this brain scan? 83% of researchers missed it.  Trafton Drew and Jeremy Wolfe

Can you find the gorilla on this brain scan? 83% of researchers missed it. 
Trafton Drew and Jeremy Wolfe

Our problem is, of course, that when we see what we want to see and hear what what we want to hear, we miss seeing or hearing what's right in front of us. We lose our awareness of the world around us. We miss cues and clues that might help us in in some way.

All this to say, we are only human. We will miss things. But we can also cultivate our awareness if we work at it. We can let go of our expectations so that we might see and hear differently. We can pay close attention -- so close, in fact, that you might even notice that five times throughout this blog post certain words were repeated twice. Did you see them? Gotcha!

Narrative Lectionary Text: Isaiah 30:8-17

Go now, write it before them on a tablet, and inscribe it in a book, so that it may be for the time to come as a witness forever. For they are a rebellious people, faithless children, children who will not hear the instruction of the Lord; who say to the seers, “Do not see”; and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions, leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.” Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel: Because you reject this word, and put your trust in oppression and deceit, and rely on them; therefore this iniquity shall become for you like a break in a high wall, bulging out, and about to collapse, whose crash comes suddenly, in an instant; its breaking is like that of a potter’s vessel that is smashed so ruthlessly that among its fragments not a sherd is found for taking fire from the hearth, or dipping water out of the cistern. For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. But you refused and said, “No! We will flee upon horses”— therefore you shall flee! and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”— therefore your pursuers shall be swift! A thousand shall flee at the threat of one, at the threat of five you shall flee, until you are left like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain, like a signal on a hill.