If we are going to truly pursue truth, we must decide where truth is found and go to that as the source. We sometimes blindly trust someone or some source in our eagerness to get affirmation for what we want or believe. If we have a history that proves that is a trustworthy path, that can be a good option for us. The problem is that more often than not none of us take a lot of time to research the accuracy of that or if the person or source is well-versed on the question at hand. (None of us are on everything.)
“Why do we swallow the lies? Why do we find it so difficult to accept the truth? Because we are looking for bargains. We want shortcuts. There are no easy ways. There is only one way. If we are going to be complete human beings, we are going to have to do it with God. We will have to be rescued from these despotic egos that reduce us to something less than human. We will have to expose the life of self-centeredness and proclaim the truth of God-centeredness.”Eugene Peterson in Run with the Horses
We may agree with Peterson and nod our heads, but perhaps we need to take a moment before we do and read it again to grasp what he is really saying. How much of our self-sufficiency and pride will need to be crucified to do it? That old DNA born of our sin-nature can and does creep in unnoticed on more occasions than we might think.
Many of us believe that the Lord and the Bible are the source of absolute truth. More often than not on many of the big issues we face, big decisions placed before us, we will give time to ask the Lord, pray about what would be the best choice. But are we willing to wait on an answer? (If we are honest, we are not as good at that and especially not if we have already waited.)
On what we consider to be “small things” or ones that seem more abstract and less personal, asking the Lord or checking out scripture may not even cross our minds. We either think it is too small to ask or we think we know! I get that! I am guilty as well, but the tricky thing is that sometimes we don’t know that we don’t know.
And that is where we fall prey to what can upend us and the peace we believed we had before “it” cropped up and things got murky and we didn’t seek the Lord’s wise counsel. We may even be unsure of what has disturbed the peace we had previously. We can mistake the truth about peace.
“Yes, God gives us peace. But it is not a peace that gets along with everyone by avoiding the hint of anything unpleasant. It is not a peace achieved by refusing to talk about painful subjects or touch sore spots. It is a peace that is hard won by learning to pray. There is evil to combat, apathy to defeat, dullness to challenge, ambition to confront.”Eugene Peterson in Run with the Horses
It’s also true that sometimes the truth is painful, or pinches and we may not feel “comfortable” and then believe we have no peace.
“Truth is inward: we must experience within ourselves that which we profess.”Eugene Peterson in Run with the Horses
Ouch! Eugene Peterson nails it for us.
If we could/would just learn to ask first, we could reduce so many side trails, so many shocks and disappointments along the way. Do we fail to believe God is good and expect He will withhold anything good from us? Have we judged Him based on what we see in our brothers and sisters oftentimes? Or do we suspect He may not agree with our preference?
There are ample examples of what can happen when we fail to seek the Lord about decisions (forgetting that we are accountable for our choices in all matters, not just moral ones). One of my favorites is found in the Old Testament book of Joshua.
The book begins with Joshua assuming leadership for the children of Israel after Moses dies. It is his calling to finally move this people into the land God promised to them. He was found faithful when he and others were sent to spy out this new land they would be given by God. His faithfulness pointed to him as a leader. Now he was to secure the land that lay before them on the other side of the Jordan River.
This new land is already occupied by nations that do not believe in God so throughout the book of Joshua we will watch battles with Joshua as a warrior leading these former slaves who are God’s chosen people. The great adventure of reading Joshua is seeing how it is really God who is the “general” commanding Joshua and leading in specific ways for defeating enemies and cities of all kinds in varied ways. (There is a lot more to discover beyond the walls falling down around Jericho.)
Success depended on obedience to what God directed and only when and if they asked the Lord and followed Him could that be certain. (I think that might not just apply to them.)
The learning process regarding this key fact has been tested more than once when we arrive at the ninth chapter and read the story of the Gibeonites. The Gibeonites had already heard of the defeat of other nations and peoples so they determined to scheme to avoid their own defeat.
They wore clothing and equipped themselves with things that appeared old and well-worn when they met Joshua and then wove their deceit. They told him that they had come from a far-off land and were not a part of this “promised land” that was to be conquered. Joshua and the leaders of Israel fell for the lie. It sounded plausible and they looked as if they had been traveling from a great distance. They didn’t ask God and entered into a covenant with some of the very people whose purposes were to undo them.
They were in league with the enemy because they failed to ask God if these were trustworthy people.
How often have we done likewise?
Did we ask Him about whether this was a good person to date, hire, or buy a car from? Did we ask Him if what we were told was true? Did we ask Him if what we were reading or watching was good for us? Did we ask Him who to vote for, what position to take, whether or not to move?
Did it even occur to us?
Sadly, we might blame God for something that happens while never asking Him to be a part of the situation and guide us. The word “ask” shows up repeatedly in both Old and New Testaments and it appears that even though He knows what is happening and knows us, He still wants us to ask Him.
Have we asked Him?