When Truth Seekers fail to find the truth that transforms

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 ( :

-LS

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

Be strong in the Lord

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. (Eph 6:10 ESV)

I am not strong in ways I’d like to be.  I greatly admire people who plot a course for themselves and follow-through managing their time until the end result is in hand.  With dogged determination, consistency and vision they move strongly toward their goals.  I admire this single-mindedness.  I’m more of a waffler (if there is such a word), prone to double-mindedness, but praying ‘help my unbelief!’,  and trusting that God will yet work this out in me.  There’s hope for me when I see Paul’s admonition to the believers in Ephesus: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” because it makes apparent that it’s not my natural strength that is called for, but my dependence on the Lord’s strength. Self-help may be the world’s only alternative but believers in Jesus have the power that raised Him from the tomb at work in us!

I have been spurred on this week by an array of verses emphasizing His strength and my need to step out in dependence on it.

“Not by strength or by might, but by My Spirit” says the LORD of Hosts… (Zech 4:6 HCSB)

“Be strong”–this is the Lord’s declaration. “Work! For I am with you…this is the promise I made to you when you came out of Egypt, and My Spirit is present among you; don’t be afraid.” (Haggai 2:4,5 HCSB)

All the strength I need is at my disposal when I am walking in obedience. This tidbit came from Sunday’s sermon:

Christ’s strength is proportionate to our obedience in fulfilling His purposes for our lives.  Every act of obedience brings strength for the next step. (Shafer Parker)

I’m coming to recognize that this strength is not realized until I step out and start moving, start walking by faith into the thing that intimidates me… whether it be composing a blog post or saying ‘yes’ to teaching a Sunday School class or any number of other faith-stretching prospects.  Fear may taunt but it cannot withstand the tread of faith.

God has always been faithful to lead His people from fear and bondage to faith and life.  The Bible is replete with the stories of those He’s called and shaped for their callings despite their natural reticence.  Gideon and Moses come to mind.

(Gideon) “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?” Judges 6:14 NKJV

(Moses) What’s that in your hand? Throw it down and see what I can do with it!

“You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode. Ex. 15:13 ESV

Fear ensnares, cripples, and paralyzes. Faith awakens to possibilities, gives courage, and makes strong.  No wonder Paul prayed as he did for the believers in Ephesus, that their hearts would be enlightened to understand “what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places”(!) (Eph. 1:19-20 ESV)

This same power is already at work in us who believe.  We’ve already been raised from certain death, and made alive in Christ so that we are capable of truly good works that reflect His life in us.  And now we’re called to “pay careful attention to how [we] walk” so that our lives would reflect this faith in the God who is at work in us.

May you and I know more and more this strength that comes with walking by faith into the good works prepared for us to walk in.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. —Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen.—for we walk by faith, not by sight.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Eph 2:10 ESV; Ps. 77:19 ESV; II Cor.5:7 ESV; Eph 3:20-21 ESV

–Linda