Too Much Perceiving

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.  Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

  • Genesis2:1-3

At that time Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and their associates went to them and asked, “Who authorized you to rebuild this temple and to finish it?” They also asked, “What are the names of those who are constructing this building?”  But the eye of their God was watching over the elders of the Jews, and they were not stopped until a report could go to Darius and his written reply be received. …
The king should know that we went to the district of Judah, to the temple of the great God. The people are building it with large stones and placing the timbers in the walls. The work is being carried on with diligence and is making rapid progress under their direction.
We questioned the elders and asked them, “Who authorized you to rebuild this temple and to finish it?”  We also asked them their names, so that we could write down the names of their leaders for your information.
This is the answer they gave us:
“We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, one that a great king of Israel built and finished.  But because our ancestors angered the God of heaven, he gave them into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar the Chaldean, king of Babylon, who destroyed this temple and deported the people to Babylon.
“However, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, King Cyrus issued a decree to rebuild this house of God.  He even removed from the temple of Babylon the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem and brought to the temple in Babylon.  Then King Cyrus gave them to a man named Sheshbazzar, whom he had appointed governor, and he told him, ‘Take these articles and go and deposit them in the temple in Jerusalem.  And rebuild the house of God on its site.’
“So this Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundations of the house of God in Jerusalem. From that day to the present it has been under construction but is not yet finished.”
Now if it pleases the king, let a search be made in the royal archives of Babylon to see if King Cyrus did in fact issue a decree to rebuild this house of God in Jerusalem.  Then let the king send us his decision in this matter.

  • Ezra 5:3-5, 8-17

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.”  With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

  • John 19:30

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

  • Acts 20:24

When I have studied, and taught, temperament studies, the key rule is that whatever temperament you are, that is you.  There is no judgment on you.  But let’s get real.  There are four attributes that can swing two ways.  The extreme on any of these areas can become obnoxious.  My wife and I are both finishers, and “perceiving” irritates us to no end.

If you are in the middle on any of these, some analysts say that there may be some psychological problem.  They say we must be somewhere other than in the middle.  I do not know if I agree or disagree with that concept, but I cringe whenever I see or hear the word “ambivert”, meaning neither introverted or extroverted.  I am an introvert.  I live in an extroverted world.  I often do extroverted things, like a one-man comedy show that lasted over an hour and a half.  But after that show, I was totally exhausted.  I nearly passed out while people came by to give their encouraging words after the show.  I simply had to get away.  I am an introvert; I need my alone time.  And when I am alone too much, I need to be around Christian friends, because God wants me to, and Jesus is within me.  Introvert or not, I have a struggle with that.

How can any temperament type be obnoxious if taken to the extreme?  Here are the eight factors to consider:

  • Introvert: Your voice is never heard.  You miss the social gatherings that could advance your career.  Or you find a cave, and no one ever hears from you again.
  • Extrovert: You never stop talking.  It is said that extroverts open their mouth long before their brain is in gear.  Meet our youngest grandchild.  He is constantly talking, constantly saying he is the master of everything – especially the things he has never tried to do – and he thinks his constant speech is entertaining.
  • Intuitive: In basing your entire value system on the possibility of what may happen, you may miss the here and now and you may experience what they call in the military “analysis paralysis.”  You keep looking at the “what if” without moving forward.
  • Sensing: You are so stuck in the here and now that you never measure the consequences.  But tomorrow is coming, and you may have painted yourself into a corner.
  • Thinking: Have you ever stated a fact and made someone cry?
  • Feeling:  Have you ever expressed your feeling and the listener states that you are not tuned to the facts?
  • Judging:  When you make a decision with very few facts, it may not be the right decision.
  • Perceiving: Well then, I will simply never make a decision.  I will sit here and gather information instead.

Ah that last one…

I read an example in a book about the extremely perceiving farmer.  His wife asks if he would plow the field.  The farmer agrees, but as he goes to the barn to get the tractor, he notices that there are eggs to gather in the hen house.  He then goes to the tool shed to get the basket, but before he gets there, the cows walk up to the fence, wanting some grain.  He goes to the storage shed to get a sack of grain, but he realizes that they had been out of grain and the new sacks of grain were in the back of his truck.  He finds a tire is low on the truck, so he goes back to the tool shed to get a tire iron for the truck, but he realizes that he is thirsty.  He goes to the garden hose, and before he can turn on the water, he sees that someone has run over the hose and the hose is broken. …

At the end of the day, the plowing of the field has never been started and has long since been forgotten, but the eggs have not been gathered, the cows have never been fed, the sacks of grain remain in the truck with now a flat tire, the garden hose is still broken, and the farmer is exhausted from all his “labor” and he cannot express his exhaustion to his frustrated wife, because he is so thirsty that his tongue is glued to the roof of his mouth.

With that picture in mind, I was going through my altered morning things to do.  I had moved my toothbrush a few days ago so that I could brush my teeth and not wake up my wife.  I have yet to return the toothbrush, so my morning routine is out of rhythm.  I took my weight.  I brushed my teeth, and then my wife came in and I recorded her weight, blood sugar, blood pressure, and pulse into a logbook.  She suggested something for breakfast, but I had not taken my morning medicines, being out of rhythm.  One of those medicines requires an empty stomach, and I would have to wait 30 minutes before eating.  But the clock on that 30 minutes had not started, since I never took the pill.  I went to the living room to get my pills, and I noticed the book that I wanted to finish. …

A long story shortened, I took the medicine in time to have a late lunch, and the book is still unfinished, along with another half dozen tasks that I started.

That inspired this lament on becoming too much of a perceiving person.  As I get older, my brain gets more scattered.

My wife said that our sons love me, but I disagree.  She then said that I was too military, although that was only a few years of my long life.  What she meant was that I focused on getting the job done and if it meant using a bulldozer and leveling everything in sight, you better get out of the way.

I was the ultimate, even to the point of being obnoxious, “judging” person.  Bosses loved me, but they used me and discarded me.  I was the guy that got things done.  “Finished” was my middle name, I suppose.

My wife was saying that our boys had a hard time living up to such a model, although the older one became a finisher, very responsible.  The younger one has some things he can finish, but for the rest, he still resists.

I ran into someone recently that wanted my wife and I to travel some distance and attend an event.  We were highly interested, but we needed to know a variety of things.  My wife is on kidney dialysis.  We had to schedule a remote dialysis site two-weeks in advance.  This person had a meltdown, screaming that she cannot function when others are imposing their schedule upon them.  Our attendance at the event was then cancelled due to one person’s schedule imposed upon another person’s schedule.  Hmmm.  Good luck ever getting a job and keeping it.  That is what a job is, other people imposing their schedules upon you.

So back to this morning (the day I wrote this), there my evening fast from last night had a few hours added to it while I half did a half dozen things.  Marking them finished started with eventually taking my medicine and then waiting an hour or so before lunch.  I could have eaten after 30 minutes, but I was blissfully in finishing mode, and that satisfaction superseded hunger.  Some of the items are not finished, but most are.

But let’s look at the Scripture above.  God is a finisher, and often circumstances get in our way when we puny humans try to finish things.

In Genesis 2, God finished Creation.  He looked upon what He had done.  He saw that it was good, and He rested on the seventh day.

Then, in Ezra 5, we see the word “finish” twice and “finished” twice, but as of the last “finished” in Ezra 5:16, the Temple of the Lord was not yet finished.  Of course, the neighbors did not wish for the Temple to be completed.  A finished Temple might be the harbinger of a resurgence of Jewish rule in the area.  And now Ezra is fighting, with diplomacy, to make it clear that Cyrus had signed the orders to rebuild the Temple.

In John, on the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished.”  He then gave up His spirit and died.  But what was “finished?”  He would rise again.  His life was not finished, but His mission on earth was finished.  He paid the death penalty for our sin so that if we believe (and trust) in Him, we would be saved.  This was the ultimate in “finished” tasks.  Of course, rising again was part of the deal.

Then Paul states that he is running a race and the race is to spread the Gospel and his work is not finished until he finishes the race, crossing the finish line.

I can see the gates of Heaven open someday for me.  I will have struggled and made my mistakes along the way.  My road toward sanctification will come in spits and spurts, but I will continue to run my race.  As I reach Jesus, who stands at the gates of Heaven to welcome me, could it be that His first words will be…

“It is finished.”

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

3 Comments

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  1. The farmer had ADD— that’s how I clean house — and as a teacher I could stand in front of a room of teenagers all day long, but put me in front of adults… 😬

    Liked by 1 person

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