May I depart from my usual fare today to point you to my gleanings from a thought-provoking memoir I finished this week? It was the title that caught my attention: Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s search for the Truth about Everything
I’m always curious to hear people’s stories of finding truth and coming to faith. This memoir did not however turn out to be that kind of story…In fact it seemed more like the frustrated musings of an older woman who since her childhood had struggled to align her upbringing as an atheist with the stirrings in her heart and mind which intimated there must be something more. This book seemed to me to be her valiant effort to put to rest the child of her adolescence and go bravely on as a self-declared and outspoken atheist, without regrets…
But the upshot of this reading for me has been to consider why it is that seekers after truth sometimes don’t find it? What state of heart and mind must the seeker bring to the search? And closer to home, what are the truths I am designed to be living in that still elude me? And why is that? Is there an underlying heart condition that is necessary if truth is going to transform the way we live?
Paul urges believers “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing or your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” (Rom.12:2)
The writer to the Hebrews says a mark of maturity is that one’s “senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil.” (Heb.5:14 HCSB)
Jesus declared Himself to be the way, the truth and the life—the only access possible to God the Father. And He told His followers that if they would abide in His Word they would know truth that would transform them, literally set them free! (Jn.14:6; 8:31,32)
Some stuck it out when His teachings got hard to hear. Many abandoned.
(see: Jn.6:66) Those who stayed realized there was no where else to turn for truth that gives life. They chose to stick with Jesus even when they didn’t understand…They believed.
And here’s the sticking point where intellect can become a stumbling stone. To the extent that we depend on our own reasoning, our own good judgment to determine the way things should be, to that extent we may be reluctant to trust the simplicity of the Gospel (There’s nothing I can do or have done that merits God’s favor apart from faith in Jesus? My goodness is not enough?). Or, if we’re believers already, we may find it hard to keep trusting God’s Word when it seems overly ‘restrictive’ or just plain hard. (Forgive repeatedly? Give thanks always? Submit to whom?) We are quick to judge what seems right and what is clearly mistaken (oh, it’s not that big a deal; why is God so harsh? That verse couldn’t mean what it says). We bear a strong resemblance to Eve who was the first to reason in the face of God’s clear command (“It seems to me…”)
A humble teachable heart is requisite if the truth is going to find its home there. In the case of the memoir I’ve just finished, this was missing. Truth was wanted but was barred from entry by preconceived beliefs that the ‘Christian’ idea of God—all powerful and all-loving—was not an option. In fact such a God was considered a logical impossibility in light of the world we live in, a fictitious invention and unworthy of another thought. A learned bias had created a hard heart, incapable of believing just when that trust could have allowed the truth to permeate and bring a new lease on life!
This book made for a sobering read. It made me want to ferret out beliefs that strangle my own growth in faith, beliefs that keep me from peace and joy and reliance on Jesus for my life. And that’s where I’m at today.
I leave you with Paul’s testimony to the Philippian believers; it resonates with me right now:
Not that I have already reached the goal or am already perfect, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Therefore, let all of us who are mature think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this also to you. In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained. Phil. 3:12-16 CSB
And let’s hang on to our great hope as we cooperate with the Spirit to renew our minds in truth. A great day is coming when the transformation will be complete!
… our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly wait for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of his glorious body, by the power that enables him to subject everything to himself. Phil. 3:20-21 CSB
Amen? May it be so!
Oh, and if you’re curious and would like to read some excerpts from a non-believer’s quest for truth, I’ve posted some quotes with corresponding Scripture notes over at my Quotes and Notes blog: Dawn’s Quotes and Notes at dictationbydawn.wordpress.com
God bless you in your quest to walk in truth.
Thanks for giving me a hearing ( :
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Pr. 3:5-6 ESV