Facts Versus Truth

July 26, 2010

I seldom read fiction, but when I do, I always learn something. Sometimes what I learn isn’t very profound. At least I usually increase my vocabulary by a word or two. But in a historical fiction novel I read recently, I discovered a lesson I will never forget. So I thought I’d share it with you.

In a dream, an Old Testament character was telling the main character about the difference between facts and truth. He explained that it depends on whether you choose to believe the facts, or seek the truth. I don’t remember the exact lessons he used and since it was a borrowed book and I don’t have it before me, I’ll improvise.

For example, follow the Israelites out of Egypt. Running scared with Pharaoh’s army hot on their trail, they round the bend and come to a screeching halt at the shore of the Red Sea. Oops… now what?! The facts were looking pretty grim. Fact: We’re trapped! Fact: We’re defenseless! Fact: There is no way out of this, and we haven’t had many swimming lessons!

But the truth was that God had a plan. He had it all along, and He wasn’t the least bit worried, frustrated or surprised by the rapidly approaching Egyptian horde. The truth was something the Israelites couldn’t see yet.

Here’s another example. What if you’d been Sarah, childless since you married as a teenager. Now you’re way past menopause age, and some stranger promises you’re going to have a baby? No wonder she laughed! The facts didn’t add up. But the truth was part of a promise, and the One who’d made it was as good as His Word. When she was 90, Sarah had that promised boy, and maybe as a celebration of God’s sense of humor, they named him “Laughter.”

Some of my favorite books in the Bible are 1 and 2 Kings. I love standing with Elijah and watching God defeat the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. Talk about facts flying in the face of truth! There had been a drought for years, and King Ahab blamed Elijah for it (read 1 Kings 17-18). God was punishing Israel for their idolatry under the leadership of wicked King Ahab. But Elijah sent Ahab a message and challenged the prophets of Baal to a contest. Get these odds: 450 to 1. Elijah was God’s only representative.

What would you have thought if you’d been in the crowd? Here are the facts. Baal’s group far outnumbered God’s faithful. Even the king was on Baal’s side. Baal’s priests got to go first. They were loud and persistent.

But Elijah wasn’t worried. After hours of their desperate dancing and frantic begging, they finally exhausted themselves. The prophet patiently rebuilt the altar his adversaries had desecrated. Then he even poured water all over the sacrifice and the altar, soaking the thing three times! As if the odds weren’t stacked against him already…

Elijah didn’t worry about the facts. He had somebody far more powerful than the king on his side. He had truth. Actually, he had the Author of Truth. Baal’s crowd had no clue what they were up against. When God got done, His fire had licked up the bull, the wood, the stone altar and even the dust around it.

Truth always wins out over facts. But sometimes it takes a while for us to see it. That’s what I’m learning. In situations when I have the opportunity to worry, become anxious, get angry or frustrated or get my feelings hurt, I am trying to stop and consider. What are the facts in this situation? But what is the truth? Will I stop to ask the Author of Truth to show me what that is? Will I choose to believe Him when He does?

Don’t settle for the facts. Go for the Truth.

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Scott and Ryan Lieffers (then) with a Filipino jeepney

 

My friends, Rex and Jean Lieffers, left Atlanta with their two young sons 25 years ago to represent their church and several others in missions with Wycliffe Bible Translators (www.wycliffe.org). I got to know them when we were all working in Manila with SIL Philippines.  Jean and I share a passion for words, literacy, the Word, and writing.  

We worked together on projects celebrating the 50th anniversary of the modern Bible translation movement in Asia. Jean's  books include BY FAITH, BY WORD, Twelve Stories for Twelve Stamps, and Celebrate! Today the Lieffers' efforts, like mine with The Seed Company, focus on facilitating Bible translation around the world.     

Along with the Lieffers family and many other friends, I appreciate the opportunity to be part of the worldwide Bible translation movement. When God steered me away from the Philippines, I wondered if I’d ever be involved in missions again. Then He opened the door about 5 years later for me to do what I love—write—for an affiliate organization of the Wycliffe family I was a part of for 13 years (www.theseedcompany.org).   

 Today I’m celebrating with Jean; a major homeschool curriculum company recently bought 500 copies of BY WORD. Jean writes, “Pray the families reading BY WORD will be challenged to pray, give, and eventually SEND the next generation to the harvest fields.” 

Every day, I’m thankful for my part-time job. I’m also thankful for friends have made a career of serving Christ. But then, isn’t that all of us?

   

The Lieffers family