3 Eternal Truths (Truth #1 – Things are not what they seem)

I was talking with some buddies the other day about one of their sons (he’s on the doorstep of entering his teen years.)  My friend said he wanted to invite his son into the “larger story”. And so, (among other thoughts) he passed along to him “3 eternal truths”. He shared these truths with his son as a sort of “lens” through which he might see the world.  These truths will help orient his son in what will be exciting and dangerous times ahead.

Ok, so there are probably many “eternal truths” we could focus on, but as my friend talked his words reminded me of these important things — over time I’d simply allowed them to fall from my conscious thought. Over the years, these three truths have helped me make sense of what’s going on around me — they orient me and have brought encouragement, courage, strength & clarity for the journey, and hope.

I thought I’d share these truths with you in hope they bring you encouragement, courage, strength & clarity for your journey, and hope.  So, over the next few days I’ll be posting a few thoughts on each.

Truth #1:  Things are not what they seem

PrideAndPrejudiceThink about it — nothing is as it appears.  This truth is woven into all the great stories we love.  It makes me think of “Pride and Prejudice” where throughout the story Lizzy shuns Mr. Darcy, thinking him to be something other than who he truly is.  Of course, we get to watch the story with perspective and we see Mr. Darcy is a good man. And we watch as Lizzy struggles to make sense of all that occurs around her. It is only at the end of the story that Mr. Darcy’s true character is revealed and Lizzy finally sees a truth that would have given her clarity from the beginning — that all along things were not what they seemed.

In the scary movies we call it the “Don’t go in there!” moments, because we know something the character doesn’t know — there is someone waiting for them.  We know things are not what they seem.  In the great love stores, we call it the “Go ahead and ask her!” moments.  In fact, in most of the great dramas, action movies, and stories, we watch the main characters encounter life thinking one thing is going on, but we know from our vantage point that more is going on. Things are not what they seem.

IknowitisntrealIn the movie “The Matrix”, Neo believes his world is real (but his “reality”, the Matrix, turned out an elaborate facade.)

And, that simple farm boy born in a one-room log cabin in rural Kentucky, what change could he possibly effect on the world? (Yet he became the unlikely 16th President of the United States and bravely led his country through a civil war and the abolition of slavery in America.)

And in the bible, that kid out in the field tending the sheep, he’s the runt of the litter and couldn’t possibly amount to much (yet, he would be called by God, “a man after God’s own heart” and one day lead his nation [1 Sam 16].)   And, when Elisha’s servant fears for their lives as he wakes up to an army surrounding their ‘defenseless’ city, Elisha simply said to him, “Don’t be afraid… there are more of us then of them” (for what he couldn’t see were “the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around.” (2 Kings 6:16-18) And, that humble, unassuming man from Galilee, Jesus, the carpenter’s son, was more than he appeared to be (turns out His plan was an elaborate and comprehensive rescue mission.)  And, that “angel of light” that appears so good (he’s actually prowling around “like a lion” seeking people to destroy.)  Things are not what they seem!

These are not just stories… they are our story!

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Eph 6:12 NIV

And in our daily lives — when we feel lost, alone, struggling just to keep our head above water… when the pain feels truer than truth itself…  when we’re left wondering where is God in all this?! — we must remember this:

“So much of what we misinterpret as hassles or trials or screw-ups on our part are in fact God fathering us, taking us through something in order to strengthen us, or heal us, or dismantle some unholy thing in us.”   ~ Fathered by God, John Eldredge

And when our relationships seem to be breaking down, our teenager is struggling, our job seems in jeopardy, we remember “things are not what they seem.”  God is at work behind the scene, advancing his plans for you:

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion  ~ Phil 1:6

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~ Jer 29:11

There is more going on behind the scenes than we could ever imagine.  And, if we will only believe this truth, we can make sense of so much of what happens to us.  It helps us see what is not right in front of us.  Ultimately, it brings us back to God.  With our Father at our side, we can let go of our striving to make things work out.  It really comes down to believing either that we are not alone, or believing that we are… a belief that we are being Fathered, or that we are abandoned.

“Cease striving and know that I am God” ~ Psalm 46:10  

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  ~ Matt 6:25-34

The effect on us is very real — it gives us hope… hope to not give up… to not give in to the temptation of hopelessness… it is a hope-filled promise that we are not on this journey alone.  More is going on behind the scenes. The rescue is near. The victory soon. Breakthrough just around the next corner.  Things are not what they seem.

How Is this ‘truth’ new to you, or does this serve as a timely reminder? 

Is there something you’ve read today that you might need to ponder a few minutes more?

Can you think of one thing you might change in how you’re approaching life or struggles or relationships based on what you’ve just read?

I hope this help you find clarity in the midst of this mystery that is life,

Mark

4 thoughts on “3 Eternal Truths (Truth #1 – Things are not what they seem)

  1. It’s interesting. I don’t think I’ve really thought about this relationally. I’ve always thought about in terms of reality – there’s more going on than meets the eye ie. angles, demons, warfare, etc. But you used Pride and Pred as an example (a movie I am well acquainted with being as it’s in Heather’s top 3 all timers). That’s a new way of pondering this truth for me. And as it turns out it came into play just last night. I don’t have time to type out the whole situation but the gist is that some unfortunate event occurred and Heather was out in our barn dreading my reaction to it and I was in the house preparing for what I thought was going to be a battle between us because of it. We were both wrong, things were not what they seemed to be.
    This gives me a lot to think about in terms of my relationships with others.

    1. Good observation. You are right that much of the ‘behind the scenes’ lies in the spiritual realm (angels, demons, spiritual warfare, etc.) and I hope I also conveyed that clearly in the article. But as you commented, the more I thought about it, the more it became clear just how much of this is played out in our relational sphere. The two realms (the seen and unseen) don’t just intersect (like two partially overlapping circles) they lay right on top of each other, one just as real as the other. But most of the time we only feel the seen — and this usually plays out in our relationships with others.

      If you have other thoughts as you process “a lot to think about…”, I’d love to hear more.

      Mark

  2. How true!
    This is a very timely message for me as our chuch has just started a series on this topic called “Behind the Veil”

    1. Great, Wayne!

      I’m glad this held something for you. It, too, really helps me to remember this truth. Was there something in particular that stirred a thought, or action?

      Mark

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