TRUTH.

Our world is defined by this one word. This one pursuit. This one unknown.

We chase it, we deny it, we hide from it. Many of us come to the conclusion that the only bit of it that truly exists, is the truth that it doesn’t exist. We are skeptics by nature.

As a Christian, I claim to have access to Truth. I claim to know and be known by, and in communication with, the One who is truth. Yet even His truth can only be found in the entire story.

“I am the way, the Truth, and the life.” – John 14:6

This was said by Jesus, who was soon after martyred for stating that He is truth. He was seen as simply a man with powerful words, who wandered around the middle east with a group of men for three years preaching, revealing His truth to the world.

Yet the world didn’t recognize it. His disciples, largely, didn’t recognize it. They recognized something different about him, yet didn’t recognize him as the lone truth in a world of lies until His story on earth as a man concluded.

This is a man who had been prophesied about thousands of years before He arrived, living among a people expected to be extremely disciplined and knowledgeable of Jewish tradition and writing, and He wasn’t recognized until His return. In fact, His fiercest opposition came from the men most educated about the prophesies about Him – the Pharisees. Because in this story, as in all stories, truth can only be seen in hindsight, from a distanced perspective of the entire timeline.

And now, we can look back. And because we can look back, truth can be recognized.

An example can be found in the life of a student. What have you learned? Long division, multiplication, and addition, certainly. These are wonderful examples. We can’t be sure of the truth of multiplication without first being sure of the truth of addition. We can’t be sure of division, or the credentials of exponents until seeing the truth found in multiplication. We can’t understand the truth of a current operation without first seeing the truth found in that which was learned in the past. If we could, one wouldn’t need to take basic math before algebra, or algebra before calculus, or calculus before differential equations. If we were able to inherently know mathematical truths without a prerequisite, we could all have degrees in mathematics. But we can’t. And the rest of the world, and life, is the same.

The word “truth” is used 44 times in the New Testament. Seventeen of these times, it is used in John, and in nearly all of these examples, Jesus is claiming He himself is truth – and nothing else is.

Yet no one believed him. Even the twelve men who followed Him everywhere were uncertain of His claim, as evidenced by their actions following His death, hiding in the upper room in a moment of doubt, seeing this man die who was expected to overthrow the Roman government. Seeing this man’s time cut short before He could achieve the goal they believe was the truth and reason for his visit. They were with Him nearly every day, yet they still didn’t recognize Truth in the moment when it was standing before them. It was only recognized after it had been fulfilled. And we are lucky enough to have the entire story sitting before us in one thousand pages, like a connect-the-dots puzzle from the Old Testament to the New, slowly drawing a portrait of Jesus, and the revelation that He is Truth.

The beauty of the Bible is found in the story it tells over its entire duration. The story it tells, which although seemingly disconnected when reading only sections, can be seen as fluent and entangling in its whole. The story which starts in Genesis, and points to the One single Truth in this world all the way through.

Yet until we reach the resolution of the Story, we cannot see its relevance. Until we hear of God’s Son rising from the dead and ascending to heaven, every prophesy and abstract story  of Jesus and His ultimate plan can be seen as a different truth altogether – can be seen as the same truth the disciples and multitudes of people to which Jesus spoke had believed. Without a resolution in the story, Jesus was simply a man who made bold claims, taught many to love, and died as all men before him had – permanently. Yet only God knew actual truth at the point of His death. And it was only to be seen by the world until after its completion.

For the same reason as this, look at Revelation – the book speaking on the end times. While being a powerful book, it is also the most misunderstood. It is full of parables and symbolism which can be interpreted in so many different ways that it has been completely muddled, despite our theologian’s desperate pursuit of understanding it, when in reality, it cannot and will not be truly understood until it is completed. It cannot truly be understood as certain truth until it is past, and God’s glory is found in the story which all of our searching and attempts at understanding will be shattered or confirmed, and concluded by an oh-so-profound “Aha!” moment.

This is the beauty of our God – that He cannot be understood in process, but only in completion. It brings me great comfort to know I serve a god who is too profound to expose the big picture as the brush is put to canvas. It brings me great comfort to know that the God I serve only exposes the true extent of His work by placing the finished product on the wall, enabling us to step towards or away from it, inspecting the beauty found in detail while also stepping back to witness it’s elements work together, creating the beauty found in the art as a whole – stepping back to see the Truth found in the intertwining brushstrokes of individual stories which He has created merging into the greater story of His grace.

It brings me great pleasure to serve a God whose plan for me I cannot understand at the moment, and it brings me great joy that He has already exposed His greatest truth to us through His Word. It brings me great pleasure to be a single brushstroke in the plan of His unknown – knowing He hasn’t yet lifted the brush from the canvas to complete my story. And I can only go about life wondering what I’ll learn when I look back on this moment, because some truths are revealed in minutes, and some are not fully understood until the painting is hung on the wall and viewed from a different perspective.

LOVE AS I HAVE – JOHN 15:12

It’s funny how God knows exactly where your heart is sometimes, and knows exactly what’s frustrating you at the current moment, and speaks directly to it simply, clearly, and without hesitation. Tonight was one of those times. The church needs to realize this simple message, and let it sink into the fabric of their being.

WORRY, FAITH, AND PRAYER

“Resting in the Lord is not dependent on you external circumstances at all, but on you relationship with God himself. . . Worrying always results in sin. We tend to think that a little anxiety and worry are simply an indication of how wise are, yet it is actually a much better indication of just how wicked we are. Fretting arises in our determination to have our own way. Our Lord never worried and was never anxious, because His purpose was never to accomplish his own plans, but to fulfill God’s plans. Fretting is wickedness for a child of God.”  – Oswald Chambers

“Do not fret – it only causes harm.”         – Psalm 37:8

I read this today, and I needed it. It basically describes my life lately, in that it has been filled with worry. Worry that I won’t be fully supported by the time the semester starts, which leads to worrying if I’m in the right place, and all it leads back to, as Oswald Chambers has wisely pointed out, is me not putting all trust in God.

It’s a scary thing not to know where or what you’ll be doing a few months from now. Trust me. But it is a lot scarier to imagine going through the experience without God. Because of that, I’m making a declaration. No worrying. Just prayer, and the prayer isn’t asking God to solve the things I worry about, but rather to help me abide completely in Him and know that if one thing doesn’t work, He has something better for me.

Join me in my prayer to abide and trust, rather than worry and wonder.

O Lord, send me on my way.

That way may not be visible, but I trust that it is good,

Because it has been planned in advance by  You.

If I am on an undesired trail in your eyes, give me a detour and set me right.

And if my trail is true,

 I trust that You will keep building it ahead of me and the details will fall into place.

For You know where I’m headed, and You know where I’ve been.

You’ve prepared me and trained me, and You will put me on the course.

Thank you for guiding my steps. Amen.

LESSONS FROM A BROKEN MIRROR

“There has never yet been a saint who has not lived a maimed life initially. Yet it is better to enter into life maimed but lovely in God’s sight than to appear lovely to man’s eyes but lame to God’s.”   -Oswald Chambers

When we look in the mirror, what do we see? Do we see a ‘good person,’ or a man or woman living a ‘good life?’ We’d probably say so, but we shouldn’t see these things! Rather, we should see a life of repair. A life broken. We should see the ugliness inside ourselves, and the beauty of Christ through His never-ending work in us. We should be in a pursuit to see less of us and more of Him, and as we begin to see Christ, and accept His gift and love given to us, we can begin to see His plan for us and His purpose for us. And that purpose is ultimately to restore us to beauty – a beauty we cannot achieve on our own – because as we are restored by Christ, it becomes more and more obvious to the world who is doing the restoring, and our lives begin to accomplish the ultimate purpose: to bring Him glory!

The greatest amount of beauty in us can only be found by reflecting Him throughout our lives and towards others, and our life purpose should be pursuing that beauty in total disregard of the world’s opinion or persuasion.We are to live life thankfully broken, knowing the only One who can use our brokenness! A shattered mirror is only as useful as what the person looking into it sees. Do you see a purpose behind your brokenness, and a pursuit towards repair? Or are you too busy praying for God to repair the mirror, unable to notice what God can use it for?

“. . . what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour?”

But for this purpose I came to this hour.

“Father, glorify Your name.”     -John 12:27-28

Through our sorrow, and the moments we need repair, let us not ask God to fix us. Rather, ask Him to use us to glorify His name!

ABIDE AND LET IT BE!

“Look at the birds of the air . . .consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin.”      – Matthew 6:26, 28

. . . They simply are!

So often we fret about our usefulness to God, yet in this passage (among others) He simply reminds us of our usefulness in the areas we don’t recognize. Our focus can not be on doing things for Christ, but rather being in Him! For when our focus is on doing for Christ, it is on the action rather than the reason. When our focus is on the reason rather than the action, we can have an influence for Him which is greater than we will ever recognize, and the reason we’ll fail to recognize it is because our focus will not turn away from Him long enough for us to look around at the rest of our lives.

We were created to be focused on God to the point of tunnel vision – unable to recognize ourselves and our lives outside of His purpose and direction.

“Let love be genuine.”   – Romans 12:9

Notice the simplicity again in this passage. We are not to “make” our love be genuine, or “force” it to be, but to simply “let” it be! WE were created to love, and through the recapturing of the Holy Spirit in us, we are to simply let love happen. With the transforming of our hearts comes the transforming of our very natures, and we no longer need to try to be godly, we simply need to abide in Him, and let His qualities shine through!

Have you recognized His transformation and let Him overcome our old nature and make His nature our own? Abide in Him, and let it happen!