It’s been another busy week here, as I’m sure it was for each of you! On Friday, a contractor friend replaced a basement window which, unbeknownst to me and Ed in the past, had water damage with carpenter ants establishing a home, destroying the wooden window frame. Thankfully that was all cleaned out and replaced with a new water-tight and draft-free window.
Changes over time can take their toll, unseen to outward visible scrutiny. And thus it is with truth. Some might claim their truth is what’s right, until you dig deeper into the so-called facts and discover they don’t stand up to intense scrutiny at a deeper depth than simply that which is “visible” and sounds good. What one might want to see and believe as truth may truly not be accurate. What matters is the foundation – for right or wrong.
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What Is Truth… – Eighth grade English and writing essays – one of my favorite school subjects. And that only because of my seventh-grade teacher, Miss Clara Breeman – a woman who looked to be about 100 years old with a beehive hairstyle. Before starting junior high, I heard rumors of how mean she was among neighborhood kids. She was the most dreaded seventh grade teacher. No one wanted to be in her class… and I got her for both homeroom and English!! I was discouraged and scared before classes even started that fall.
Coming from a small private Christian school, I was utterly overwhelmed by the vastness of public junior high, and the attitudes and behaviors of nearly 1000 peers in three grades. And I had to get Miss Breeman. Truth be told, she was neither 100 years old nor mean. She had class rules and took guff from no one – hard-and-fast truth and consequences.
But make no mistake about it… as tough as she was, Miss Breeman was an awesome teacher! And, I learned to treasure my time with her. Sentence structure, diagraming those sentences, writing composition and memorization of the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution have remained with me to this day. She also held to a standard of treating her students fairly. She even suggested, back in 1967 or 1968, that we could use the Bible’s book of Psalms as our source of a poem to delineate its meaning into an essay… and I was not the only student of hers who did just that.
Moving up to 8th grade English, our young teacher gave us a list from which to pick an essay assignment, and I chose “Honesty is the Best Policy.” Speaking truth was my theme, earning the coveted A. Unfortunately, the paper has long been gone from my possession. But the theme has remained with me for life.
We long to know truth… to speak truth… and to live truth. Truth is an innocent honesty, lacking guile. Truth speaks for itself, is factual, the opposite of the evil of lies. “He who speaks truth tells what is right, but a false witness, deceit.” (Prov 12:17 NASB)
But what truth… and whose truth? Sometimes, our life’s core beliefs blur and become shades of gray, rather than black and white absolutes. Yet, as we age, and grow wiser, the depth of our heart’s beliefs should become strengthened by the truth of God’s Word. “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” (Eph 4:15)
Life often forces us to look deep within ourselves… especially when problems attempt to draw us aside and off our self-established path. I once knew a pastor and counselor who held out his hands as though balancing a scales of justice, stating that he had a situation where he didn’t know who was telling the truth. There are several ways to determine who speaks truth, including having each party tell their story multiple times on different occasions, with interruptions and questions. The one who does not veer from the story, or timeline, is telling the truth because the liar, the perpetrator, cannot keep their story straight. When we confront these tough issues, we draw from a foundation of values. And those values essentially come from the depth of who we are in the midst of what goes on around us… an inner integrity. This honesty and integrity that we draw upon comes from our faith. But, again, faith in what?
There are many avenues of faith in the world to which we give credence… especially when confronted by the bad versus the good in life. Within life’s turmoil, it’s reassuring to turn to our core values, our faith, and wisdom from the depth of truth we rely on. Because, when we are faced with issues like how to overcome blatant evil that roils around us, to what or whom do we turn when life falls apart? Upon what foundation do we stand? And why? What truth formed our values in the first place?
As Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) In knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior, we seek to please Him and become more like Him. For me, my goal has been to reflect truth and values learned in the Word of God, for truth expresses His wisdom. Unfortunately, I have not always adhered to the truth and values within my heart when younger. For I, too, have failings.
Yet, I’ve known a tugging in my heart, a pulling away from my sins to make amends, to apologize, and return to the core truth of what I value… as God draws me closer to Himself in the life, love and sacrifice of my Savior. “Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart, and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong… but honors those who fear the Lord…” (Psalm 15:1-4 NIV)
Truth… evidenced in wisdom’s values of honesty and integrity, even when no one is watching… something we each wrestle with and must come to terms with on this path we call life.
What Is Truth…
Linda A. Roorda
Questions I face and ponder anew
Why am I here and what is my purpose?
You, Lord, ordained from before my time
The paths I’d take, the me who I’d be.
Found in this life is a purpose rich,
For all that I do on this path I walk
Is meant to draw my eyes to You, Lord
To give You praise, glory and honor.
I belong to You, my own I am not.
May I recall this deep in my soul
When trials of life draw me aside
Away from truth, away from Your Word.
For what is truth but not shades of gray?
What if reality is stark in contrast?
Absolute truth, the key to my faith
Pure black and white like pen to paper.
For on Your shoulders a steep price was placed
The shame of the world with its heavy weight.
You hold the key to life’s victory
In hands that are marred by my piercing sin.
Yet because You live what have I to fear
If my trust alone in You is found
As I lift my eyes to gaze on Your face
For when I am faithless, You faithful remain.
Then what is truth if found in wisdom
In honest discourse, valued integrity
A reliant faith that truth sets us free
For what is truth but the heart of God.
Linda Roorda writes from her home in Spencer.