Facing Reality With Unchanging Truths

Have you been the recipient, or giver, of a “pep talk”?  You know, the “you can do this” rallying cry designed to inspire and drive the listener(s) to accomplish great and marvelous things… like winning a football game? One problem, however, is that some pep talks are helpful while others fail miserably to align with reality.

When in high school, I was on the tennis team and received quite the pep talk before a particularly memorable match.  I was about to face an opponent whose skills were closer to a professional than those of a high school amateur.  She hadn’t lost a single match all season long.  Not only that, she’d won each of her matches with a perfect, annihilating score of 6-0/6-0.  All to say, she didn’t just beat her opponents; she crushed them.  The pep talk given me from two of my team-mates went something like this:

“Sure she’s undefeated, June, but you can beat her!  Everyone’s just freaked out about her reputation. Go out there and mop up!”

Of course, they meant well.  And there was some potential that what they were saying was true: if my opponent managed to trip and break her ankle, that is.

As it was, she didn’t trip.  In fact, even though it wasn’t exactly a cold morning, she didn’t even have to remove her warm-up jacket during the embarrassingly short match.  I, on the other hand, had become sweat-drenched, was bleeding slightly from a fall I sustained when trying to return an unbelievable forehand crosscourt shot, and basically bore resemblance to a train wreck.  My success?  I managed to lose 2-6/2-6.  When we shook hands at the match’s conclusion, my opponent gave me the strangest look when I smiled and earnestly offered her my congratulations.  I suspect she was thinking, “How can you be so dumb? You just about killed yourself, and for what?  Four games in two sets?”  I looked at her perfect face with her perfect make-up, without a trace of moisture on her brow.  The pep talk I’d received about “mopping up” was not rooted in reality.  Oh, sure.  I was mopping… my sweaty face!

In these blogs, the Encouragement That Lasts team is committed to never giving you pep talks. Why?  Because Jesus is this ministry’s foundation and love, and He is our pattern.  What Jesus always gave people – and still gives us today – is truth.

Truth which has the power to change the course of our lives.

Truth which brings hope where, by all human standards, there’s none to be found.

Truth which gives us the strength to get up and face what we know is going to be a horribly tough day.

Jesus pinpointed our every area of need when He declared of Himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).   God didn’t just tell us about truth, He gave us truth:  Jesus. John 3:16 spells it out:  For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

An example about a laughable pep talk before someone’s tennis match years ago is not going to help you when you’ve been deeply hurt by someone you love, your employment becomes unstable or non-existent, you see no relief from a physical ailment you’ve been praying about, or you find yourself in the unthinkable position of having to make funeral arrangements. The needs you and I have through the storms of life (or even the ordinary, routines of our days) are for truths which take up residence within our hearts and meet us at our every point of need.  We need truths powerful enough to keep us from giving up on doing the right thing, giving in to any temptation to self-destruct, or to return evil actions from others with those of our own.

We need the truths Jesus communicated, which demolish the status quo.

                            Jesus said, “I am the way” (not “I am a way”)

                 Jesus said, “I am the truth” (not “I am a truth”)

Jesus said, “I am the life” (not “I am a life”)

The latter part of these statements was “…no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Hmmm.  Christ’s statements could serve to tighten people’s jaws. Maybe even yours. This is because truth can encourage or offend us.  It has the power to separate friends, families, communities, and nations.  But God didn’t give us truth to wear us out or cause dissension in our lives.

He gave it to us so we could know THE WAY to Him.

He gave us THE TRUTH so we could have any blinders of our own sinful desires and contaminated societies removed.

He gave us truth so we could have THE LIFE: life eternal, sinless, and beautiful. This is opposed to the “good life” image we so often buy into. That “good life” people reach for which can’t deliver what we really all inwardly need:  peace, relationship, and joy with our Creator-God.

In our last blog, I shared about my having humbly communicated to a pre-teenager that she didn’t evolve from slimy, green algae.  I know how even this simple truth can be extremely upsetting to some of us.  Why?

Because if we face the reality that we were created, we must recognize an accountability to Someone greater and higher than ourselves.

Such a truth can make us uncomfortable or put us in battle mode.  Or it can be of long-term comfort:  Yay!  We were loved, planned, and created from the get-go!

Just for the record, I have engaged in “truth battling” with God in my own life.  We probably all have, to some degree.  And why be surprised?  Since Jesus is the way, God’s enemy (and ours, see John 8:44) will make the way to God (or the need for a way to God) a battleground.  Since Jesus is the truth, truth gets mixed with falsehoods or merely tossed by the wayside (see Judges 21:25). Since Jesus is the life, confusion as to what really constitutes life and/or significance abounds (see Proverbs 14:12).

Yet lasting, meaningful help and encouragement cannot occur apart from truth (Proverbs 8:35). But like a significant remodeling project, or trying to handle tennis shots coming at us beyond our ability to handle, we must allow truth to start messing up our preconceived notions, pet falsehoods, and/or comfortable addictions.

As we seek to believe and apply truths from God’s Word, we may get sweaty; we may get scraped up.  It may appear as if we’re losing in the Game of Life. You may receive strange looks from others who are thinking or saying, “How can you be so dumb?”  But in the end – unlike me in my brutal tennis match – if we set our minds and hearts on God’s truths and tenaciously stick with them, we’ll end up receiving a glorious, eternal prize like nothing we could ever deserve or imagine!

Blessed [happy, spiritually prosperous, favored by God] is the man who is steadfast under trial and perseveres when tempted; for when he has passed the test and been approved, he will receive the [victor’s] crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love him (James 1:12, Amplified Bible).

Unlike accomplishments or successes we may hold dear which will one day become insignificant, being gifted with a crown of life from the God of creation – with all of humanity and the heavenly realm looking on – is mind-boggling; thrilling!  And this crown and joy will never fade away.

Please prayerfully consider preparing yourself for the messy, sweaty process of accepting invasive truth into your heart and mind. Even though much of what we at Encouragement That Lasts share can immediately be used by God to strengthen your heart, lasting rubber-meets-the-road encouragement and help from Him will occasionally require commitment and work on our part before we see the benefit.

If you haven’t yet had opportunity, I invite you to access the Encouragement That Lasts website and peruse it (www.encouragementthatlasts.org). It may answer some preliminary questions you have and serve as a foundation from which to read our next release; setting you up with the tools necessary to receive true encouragement.

Here is how I’ve prayed for us regarding today’s release:

Wow, God… this business of being in the truth game is thrilling and a bit scary! Reveal to us any areas of our hearts that are taking refuge in untruths we’ve grown comfortable with.  Please give us hearts which fully seek after truth.  And thank You for Your great love and care for this precious reader!  May any falsehoods he or she has been bombarded with begin to crumble in the light of Your Word and Your Son – the way, the truth, and the life.  And thank you for never giving us pep talks, but giving us truth we can count on – always.

Thank you for being with us today.  You are loved!

June

June

People Lover. Author. Blogger. Speaker. Forgiven Much & Wild About God. Learn about June's latest book on her website.

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