Reflecting on Presumption….Seeking the sacred amidst the ordinary

We all take shortcuts to get through the day. We bundle things together, like our trips into town to run errands. That sort of effort saves us time and energy, but what about when we begin to bundle how we think about ourselves and each other? Take this photo by my good friend Pat of her cat Fred and a young possum enjoying a very interesting dinner party. Who do you presume is hosting this unusual event? The easy answer is the cat. After all, he has a name and someone who probably puts out food for him. There are two bowls, one with dry food and one with canned food. If the cat is the host, he is simply tolerating his friend the possum, allowing him to eat the dry food while he enjoys the better portion of the canned food.

On the other hand, consider if the possum is the host. He is offering the better option of the canned food to his guest while he eats the dry food. The possum also gives the cat the better place, a cool, shady spot while he eats in the sun. We view this picture based on more than an assumption – we presume to know who is the host. To presume is a farther reach than to assume. Assumptions are an extension of known facts, at least based on what we know and can reasonably expect in the future. By contrast, presumptions project information from a past experience onto the present. Presumptions take things for granted, suppose things to be true. Presumptions often start with an assumption, then apply it far beyond what reason and good sense might dictate.

In the Christian tradition, we speak of the sin of presumption, better described by a fellow blogger:

Those who sit on a premise instead of standing on a promise, slip over a precipice. Faith says God will “give us this day our daily bread”; unbelief says He won’t; doubt says He might; but presumption believes the bread must be hot and buttered — an assumption. It might be, but God’s under no obligation.

https://www.gracebiblefellowship.com/blog/2019/7/31/what-are-presumptuous-sins

Presumption is a sin against hope, dashing any chance of success before we even begin to make an effort. The sin of presumption only considers what is probable without allowing for what may be possible. When we rush to judgment or make a decision based on presumptions, we no longer make room for God’s grace. We don’t even allow room for what others might do to help us. We have no time to learn from others or look for another path toward our goals and desires.

The sin of presumption can lead us to judge others based on superficial appearances or behavior. We may avoid others based on how they look or dress. Without much effort we are prejudiced for or against another without getting to know them. Most of us have learned to look beyond skin color and sex, but what about piercings and tattoos? Hair color or style? Where they live or what they do for a living? Sometimes presumption is more of a slippery slope than a precipice.

Make time today to ask more questions than you are comfortable with. Look beyond the obvious and hold open space for God’s grace. Allow time to pray over a decision or judgment before making up your mind. Break open your heart to see more than just the facts and figures. Most of all, let the Holy Spirit soak your soul in God’s will rather than your own.

Text by Connie Chintall ©2021, All Rights Reserved

Photo of ‘Fred and the Possum’ in Burlington, NJ  by Pat Dandrea©2021, used with her permission, All Rights Reserved.

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