I had a head-on collision with the facts this week. Must not have been wearing a seat belt. Brain belt, either. The sad truth is, I took in the sights and the sounds, the data and the details, and accepted them at fake value. (Hmmm. If I keep this up, maybe I should get a job in journalism. But I digress….)
Make no mistake about it – facts are important. If your baby has a 102-degree fever, you’re $68.32 in the hole at the bank, or Congress is about to mortgage your great-grandchildren, that is meaningful information. The problem isn’t a shortage of information, and the solution isn’t to bury our heads in the sand. What matters is what we do with the information we have.
Still in something akin to panic mode, I got a gentle news flash from the Lord: Facts and Truth aren’t the same thing. And it’s possible to perceive the facts, filter them through fear or failure or fatigue or anything else that starts with an “F”, and create our own version of the Miserable Luck Club.
Truth operates in a completely different arena. It is not subject to changes in the seasons. It doesn’t cling to the latest polling data. It certainly doesn’t check in with the crests and cave-ins of our emotions. Oh, and lest I offend your posterboymodernist sensitivities, Truth doesn’t even morph between what’s “my truth” and what’s yours. Truth is… and it’ll stand when the world falls.
I am not alone in getting sacked by the facts. The Bible is filled with demonstrations that what’s visible is different from what’s vital:
- The Facts said that Abraham and Sarah were too old to try. The Truth is that the joke (“Isaac” means “laughter”) was on them.
- The Facts said that Joseph was dead. The Truth was that God was in the process of saving two nations and millions of people.
- The Facts said that Egyptians were bearing down. The Truth is that the Red Sea was dividing up.
- The Facts said that Rahab was the local whore. The Truth is that she was a deliverer of God’s people, and in the lineage of Jesus.
- The Facts said that Jericho was a fortified city, surrounded by an Israeli choir. The Truth is that a shout of praise was about to turn those walls to dust.
- The Facts said that David had an appointment with death. The Truth is that David was destined for a throne.
- The Facts said that Elijah was alone and his ministry a waste. The Truth was that 7,000 people were standing with him, and a successor was waiting for his opportunity.
- The Facts said that Elisha and his servant were surrounded by the Arameans. The Truth is that the Arameans were surrounded by chariots of fire and the armies of the living God.
- The Facts said that Peter was a loudmouthed loser – a failure of epic proportions. The Truth is that his words would soon give birth to the greatest enterprise in human history.
- The Facts said that Jesus was graveyard dead. The Truth is … the Truth is… He seized death by the throat, rolled the stone from the tomb, conquered sin and the grave, and He’s mighty to save!
Look. I get it. I know what it’s like to have too much month at the end of the money. I know what it’s like to be surrounded by people who genuinely care, and still feel completely alone. I totally understand what it’s like to be haunted by a past, stressed by a present, and anxious about a future. My data may be different, but the Facts are eerily similar. So could I – please? – encourage you with what encouraged me this week?
Let your glance be at the Facts and your gaze at the Truth. Don’t bury your head in the sand, but don’t bury your faith there, either.
Hold on to the faithfulness of God, and stand in the Truth. Just as there are optical illusions, there are also “factual” illusions as well. Feelings lie. Shame lies. Worry is a deceiver, too.
Even if you can’t see a solution to the problem or a resolution to a horribly blurry picture, you can still anchor your life to the Truth you can see. Even when you can’t trust yourself to understand the Facts or respond with strength or courage, you can trust in the heart of a God who can be trusted. Even when you’re haunted by that recurring nightmare of past choices or painful voices, you can immerse yourself in the grace of a Christ who said, “No man condemns you, and neither do I.”
Respect the facts. Without them, there would be no basis for a miracle, no expectation of the amazing, no possibility of recognizing that “exceedingly abundantly above all you could ever ask or think.” It’s OK to say, (one of my favorite prayers), “Lord… the Egyptians are coming!” Just don’t resign yourself to a life of futility. Trust me if you can… there’s hope, because there is Truth. And Truth is not a commodity or a thing. It’s not a doctrine or a code. Truth is a Person. And He – the Truth – will stand.
Even when the world falls.