Twenty years ago I realized that I had fallen for a lie. It was the so-called American Dream. My parents’ mantra had been, “You are smart. You are a hard worker. You can be anything that you want to be.” The culture told me, “Work hard, make a plan, set a goal, meet the goal, be happy.” Well, I did those things and the end result was that though I had everything a person could desire, nice home, fat retirement account, net worth of $1 million plus, I was pretty miserable.
The misery was beyond my understanding. My career was the envy of every other Realtor in the county where I worked. Along with the builder that I represented, I had been handed an absolute goldmine. With seven solid years behind us, we were poised to open a 500 lot golf course subdivision in a highly desirable area just outside of Charlotte, NC. Yet, all I could think about at the awards banquet in December 1994 was the dread of having to trudge through another year with a smile on my face.
I can never thank God enough for introducing Himself to me the following June as “the God who sees” and the “the God who provides.” A few months later I locked the office door for the last time and went home. Before I left, as I took down the framed certificates and awards, and piled the trophies into boxes, I remember thinking that if it was all piled up and set ablaze, the evidence of an 18 year career would disappear in a minute or two.
Years later, I realized that my problem had been an identity crisis. I had been trying to make myself into something and the result was an idol on a billboard that I bowed down to every day but could never satisfy. My blessed Father intervened and sent me 9000 miles away from family and culture for two years to Zimbabwe begin to teach me who I am in Him as a citizen of the Kingdom. He began by challenging me to read through the Bible, large sections every day, year after year. Soon, broad themes began to unfold that I had never been introduced to in church.
Like keeping Sabbath, for example. By assembling every passage concerning the subject, I began to get an idea of how precious it is to God and understand how wounded He is that we have disregarded His instructions concerning it. Here is the compilation. That exercise was such an eye opener for me that it soon became a habit for me to assemble everything He has to say on many other subjects. (It is a very simple procedure with free software from E-Sword.)
When one isolates “the whole counsel of God,” as Paul puts it (Acts 10:27) on any subject, God’s expectation usually comes into sharp focus. At times, it clashes with what we have been taught and, admittedly, that can be pretty scary. But, I told God in the fall of 1995 after I realized how deceived I had been about the American Dream, “I never want to be deceived again! I want the TRUTH and I don’t care how much it costs me.”
I had no idea then what I was saying. And I have to tell you that I have since then encountered things that I didn’t really care to learn, which made it necessary for God to whisper to me, “My child, do you still want the TRUTH?
Yes, indeed, the search for truth can be a bit frightening. It requires testing what one believes to be true against the perfect Word of God. It also means testing other paradigms that may seem strange. But, we can do that with confidence that God is our Helper. Jesus told His disciples He would send the Comforter to “guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).
Think on that one for a minute. The disciples had walked with God-in-the- FLESH for 3-1/2 years and yet there was still truth for them to encounter? The Bible clearly defines truth. The psalmist wrote, “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever. (Ps. 119:160) “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth. (Ps. 86:11).
Jesus prayed for His disciples, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). Jesus quotes the psalmist, thereby putting His seal on the conclusion.
Why is the search for truth so important? It is because truth brings freedom from bondage, sickness, pain, heartache, and burdens. Eight times Moses exhorts the children of Israel that God gave His instruction, “that it may go well for you.” (Deut. 4:40, 5:16, 5:33, 6:3, 6:18, 12:25, 12:28, 22:7)
Eight, in Hebrew thought is the number of new beginnings. So, we should pay very close attention. Moses was instructing the Joshua Generation who were about to go into the land that God promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that if they obeyed, things would go well for them. But, like their forefathers, whose carcasses were strewn in the desert, they did not listen.
David was a great warrior king with a shepherd’s heart who loved God and loved God’s people. He was filled with the Holy Spirit (Ps 51:11) and had much favor from Heaven. With all of that, we have to wonder why he had to suffer so much in regard to family matters.
Two of David’s sons tried to wrest the throne from him, to his great grief and their destruction. One of his sons raped one of his daughters. His son Solomon totally disgraced himself and all Israel by having 700 wives and 300 concubines that ultimately led him to build temples to foreign gods and sacrifice his children to Molech. This resulted in God splitting the Kingdom and giving the Ten Tribes into the hands of a king who would set up TWO golden calves! What a mess!
Perhaps David’s family history would have been different if he had paid more attention to God’s instructions. For example, it is forbidden for a king to “multiply wives.” (Deut.17:17) God intended man to have only one wife from the Garden of Eden; yet, David had at least nine. Had he meditated on the miserable account of Jacob’s dysfunctional family, which consisted of four wives and their children (a cultural norm, but not God’s best), David could have avoided the competition, jealousy, and contempt in his own household.
But, are we any better? What chaos, pain, heartaches, grief, and burdens have we made our children suffer because we would not listen?
The Torah commands a king to personally write his own copy of the Torah and to read it all the days of his life (see Deut. 17:18-19). While David may have failed to keep this commandment, we can be assured that King Messiah most certainly kept it!!
Should we do any differently?
If we are willing, the Holy Spirit will lead us into “all truth.” But, we have to be willing to eat the unleavened bread, the word of God minus traditions and opinions. Truth is Jesus and Truth is His Word. They are one and the same, the “whole counsel of God.” Not that I think in any way that I have arrived at “all truth.” I have had to backtrack several times in my quest, after being alerted by the Holy Spirit that I had settled for “tradition” or “opinion” rather than truth. May our prayer and resolve be to never stop short of it.
Faith like Abraham’s is costly. It requires giving up culture, father’s house, comfort zone, the right to choose where to live, where to go, and what to do when you get there. It means walking by the voice of God alone [His written word and His personal, private, jealous guardianship] regardless of what anyone else says. It is not easy, nor is it comfortable. But, it is well worth it because, even in the face of chaos or confusion, when you know you are in alignment with His Word, and when you know you have heard His voice, you can remain steady in the trial, even at Mount Moriah. “…Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Gen. 26:5). What a legacy!
I am fond of saying that we who have multiple copies of God’s word, wondrous tools to dig into it, and more leisure time than any previous generation to take advantage of these things, are the most blessed people who have ever lived on the planet. Dear friends, to whom much is given, much is required! We will be held accountable for all of the contents of our Bibles.
In closing, “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” (John 21:7) exhorts us to keep God’s commandments. Could that be one reason Jesus so loved him so much?
- And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. (1 John 2:3)
- Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2:4)
- …and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. (1 John 3:22)
- Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. (1 John 3:24)
- By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. (1 John 5:2)
- For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:3)
- And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. (2 John 1:6)
How did we miss this for so long?
Please, please consider putting away the daily devotions and commentaries for a while. Let the TV rest for a season. Leave the computer, magazines, and cookbooks. Come aside for a while and immerse yourself in the Bible–and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth.
I will close with the beloved disciple’s fervent prayer. “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul” (3 John 1:2).
Thank you for stopping by today!