Truth is Truth

"You, O LORD, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me." - Psalm 40:11 This is a sometimes monthly column concerning the truth of Christ Jesus and the issues that face our world as published in various newspapers and journals by Pastor Dave Seaford. You can return to the home page of the church by going to:

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Location: Redway, California, United States

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Question?

It is interesting to me that when it comes to the things of faith, there are several questions that come up consistently time and time again. In interviews with “the great men of every religion,” Larry King has, over a period of 40 years ask each and every one of them the same question. It has not mattered if it was the Dali Lama of Tibet, or if it was an Islamic Mullah, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi of transcendental meditation fame, or Billy Graham, it seems that Mr. King is infatuated, indeed even consumed with one question. That question is: “has there ever been a time in your life when you lost your faith”? It is a question I believe, having met Mr. King years ago, that comes from the person, and not just the reporter. Like many other people it seems that he is just looking for something that is real, something that has a solid foundation that he can count on, something that will not let him down when times get tough.

It is easy to have faith when everything is going well, the cows are fed and the mortgage is paid off. But what about those times when it is easy to loose faith and when it seems that everything has just gone to hell? What about those times? If you have ever lost a child to death, or found your spouse dying slowly before you every day, or found yourself without the money or the credit to buy the food for your next meal, or bigger yet, the next meal for your small child; perhaps only then do we understand what it is to have a real crisis of faith. In light of these kinds of issues (which we often can not control), other things we call problems seem rather small, and just very small speed humps in this journey we call “life.”

When these crisis occur as they do in every life, the question is not only “how we handle them emotionally” but what substance is there beneath the emotion? I suppose that if I had little or no mental capacity that many of the things that tend to bother me would have little or no effect on me. But short of prescribing lobotomies for the majority of the population one must ask, what it is that is built into the nature of man, that provides protection from complete mental breakdowns amongst our masses? I would suggest that it is the same thing that Larry King is searching for when he asks that most predictable of questions to those he sees as “religious.” In short, “is there something, not only based on some truth, but that IS truth, that I can count on in this life AND that assures me of something MORE than this life”? Put even more succinctly, “is there anything worth having faith in”?

You may remember the story of Job, in the bible. There came a point in time when his wife lost all faith and her suggestion to her husband Job was, “curse God, and die” (Job 2:9). For most of us that might seem melodramatic and beyond extreme, but for some of us, we have been there, found ourselves in this kind of crisis of faith and had to reach down to what ever our foundations were just to get through. It is at times like these that we can not afford quick sand foundations nor find jell-o in our veins. These are the times, where there is no time to start to build those foundations and this is definitely not the time to try to prop up some quivering “reason” for hope.

When it comes to the things of faith, like many other things in life, it is just better to build those foundations in the good times than in the bad. It also is important upon “what” foundation your hope is placed. If that foundation is only something that looks or sounds good, but really has no substance, the fall at times of crisis is a very hard one. All of this is to say, that it pays to ask questions, make sure that what is being proclaimed (or sold) is true (not just associated with some truth), and that your faith is not just a “good times” kind of faith, that evaporates with some of those that called themselves friends but disappeared when times get tough.

In Luke 15 the prodigal son found that all the people that so easily attached themselves to him, when he had plenty of money, were not to be found when the money was gone. The shallowness of those kinds of relationships is a model of what happens to people that count on some “reality” that is nothing more than an elaborate painting, crafted by a skilled artist, but with only a one dimensional appearance of something of substance. I have found that the “appearance” of a large balance in my checking account does not support much if the reality is that the bank shows that I actually have a negative balance. Further, and more importantly, when the things that really mater come crashing in a true spiritual foundation is not only important but essential.

The truth is that ALL of us will face crisis of faith in our lives. None of us are immune from the realities of this fallen world. The real question is, what do you have beneath you when it all caves in and it is beyond your capability to “fix it”?

As a guy that has searched all the major (and some of the minor) religions of the world, I too was looking for something real, something with substance and something that I could count on, no mater what circumstances happened. Like you, I needed to know that I was not simply buying into something that sounded good to me because of my (or my parent’s) preferences, but something that was true, even if it meant that my preferences did not take priority. Every human being needs a solid foundation that he knows will be there and that he knows is real both in the good times and in the bad.

There is no avoiding crisis and there is no escaping pain, and any promise to the contrary is just pie in the sky that will leave you high and dry. The question is: “will you have a leg to stand on when the pain comes and when the crisis hits? In light of the fact that we can not address all the issues here and that we don’t have the space to examine the worlds religions, I would like to recommend a book to you that I am sure can be ordered on line, or through your local Christian book store. That book is “Why I am a Christian” by Norman Geisler and Paul K. Hoffman. It is a great read, will answer many of the questions you may have and who knows – it may even lead you to finding that solid rock truth that will stay with you for eternity.