Among those things I know now, that I wish I’d known when I was twenty-two and fresh out of college with my Bible degree, is that you cannot convince someone that something is true if they are not ready to hear of it.
Somehow I got the idea that “ministry” was about knowing the truth and convincing others to believe it, too.There were two problems with that. Much of the “truth” I had then, didn’t turn out to be so true at all. And, all of the time spent trying to argue people into my ideas, even those that turned out to be true, were as fruitless as trying to get my grapevines to produce grapes in February.
Truth has its time, and as I look back over my life at the start of a new year, I have a deep appreciation for the trajectory of revelation and transformation in the human heart. These are not things we control, but I love watching how the Holy Spirit begins to unravel our false ideas from the inside and prepare us for those moments when the Truth clarifies in our heart and we find ourselves able to take a step forward in embracing his love or finding a way to share it with others. I’ve had a lot of joy over the past few years watching this process in my own life as well as watching it in others as well.
I was reminded of this by a recent email I received:
I have just finished listening to Finding Church for the 4th time yesterday in the past 2 months (I have a long drive to work!)
- 30 years ago the old me would have thought it weird.
- 20 years ago I would have tried to understand what you were saying.
- 10 years ago I would have wished it was true.
- 8 years ago I would have not thought it clear enough as I looked for the 10 steps.
- But now I see. It is just by loving the one in front of you and seeing how God touches them through the interaction. It is learning that you are loved and sharing that love with others.
I laughed when I read it. Thirty years ago I probably would have declared those ideas heresy. Twenty years ago I would have been intrigued with the hope, but thought them too idealistic to work. Ten years ago, I was already seeing that reality live out in my life and the lives of others around me and my view of his church was changing. Today, I can’t think of the church any other way and with that has come a deep appreciation for the church Jesus is building in the world in spite of all that we humans have done to craft her in our own image. And when I think about ten years from now, my heart leaps with the anticipation of what I might yet learn about him and his work in the world.
Truth has its time. We don’t so much learn it in a classroom as it unfolds in us out of our growing relationship to God. Growth and transformation are a process that takes time. It would be nice to recognize truth out of the clear blue and just embrace it, but it rarely works that way. Mostly truth works its way into our heart over time as God wins us more deeply into his affection for us. Maybe that’s what Jesus had in mind when he told the disciples he would send them Another Comforter and he would guide them into all truth. He even admitted to them that he had so many more things to teach them but that they weren’t ready for them yet. I love how Jesus had a sense of the unfolding reality of truth in our hearts. He didn’t confront them with truth and demand they make a choice, but he opened the door to truth to see who was ready to walk through.
If I’d known that forty years ago, my heart would have been softer in the hands of the Master. I would have been far more gentler with people who didn’t see what I hoped they would see. I would have spent far less time trying to argue people into my view of truth. And, I would have trusted the Spirit to guide me better when others were trying to convince me of things they thought were true that didn’t yet make sense to me.
I would have taken all that energy I used to try and convince others and to let him teach me to walk in the truth I had already been given. And, I would have spent far more time encouraging others who were already hungry for the truth, rather than trying to convince others of it who weren’t yet ready and couldn’t yet see it.
In short, seeing the Spirit as the convincer of people, and I their friend has allowed me to be more relaxed in God’s process, not only in my heart, but with others around me as well. It is far more fruitful to help people into the truth they are seeking, rather than to badger them into what they are resisting. Believe me!
20 thoughts on “Truth Has Its Time”
So true Wayne. I am actually shocked to find myself where I am now. This is NOT where I thought I should be 20 or 30 years ago. But I am okay with it … wonderfully surprised at the “rest” I am experiencing. His plans are so much better than mine.
I so needed to be reminded of this!
Thanks so much!
Thank you so much for sharing this!
You could not have known How This subject has been at the forefront of my heart and mind over the last couple weeks… And most of all what I have been looking for in conversations… In messages I find my self looking for the question marks and leaving the exclamation points be… “Being a friend and letting the Holy Spirit do the convincing” Love that!
I love it when God seems to be saying the same thing through different sources. Yesterday my daily post from Richard Rohr said this: ‘The spiritual journey is a path of deeper realization and transformation; it is never a straight line, but a back and forth journey that ever deepens the conscious choice and assent of God’s Work in us’.
I so enjoyed reading your post this morning Wayne – you are one of our ravens that keep us fed in the desert. I have grown to love the journey, and to look forward to new revelations of who God is, and who He wants us to be.
“Truth has its time.”
I’ll hang on to that.
Good advice when I feel frustrated with the surroundings.
So very true!
Thank you for your insights and kindly-expressed encouragements. So often, your posts have been like a refreshing drink to my mind and heart.
Right on Wayne. So what has changed over the past 30-40 years? Where did you get your foundation? Where did you meet your amazing Sarah, and other mentors? If you’re at all like me, the answer to a lot of those questions might be “the organized church institution”, which I have since moved on (at least for now) from. You see, when I was a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child, etc, you get the point I’m sure, and I know you know how that ends. That being said, I feel like the institution may have a place for early development as a part of our progression and transformation. I think this progression comes down to maturity of some sort although I would be the last person to consider myself “mature” in the sense that many use the word. I think the maturity I’m getting at is the maturity that is formed in the wilderness. It’s not a maturity that makes a person better suited for grown-up conversations or looking a part, or even always doing the right thing, in fact, it may even be the opposite. The wilderness is that place where some of us have gone and even remain permanently where often it feels like it’s just “you and me Father”, where we discover ourselves, where it’s ok to be a child or a bit dumb at times-where we make new mistakes with new personal freedom, where we don’t have the pressure to be anything, and there’s no pressure to perform service, and the need to be in control is stripped away by necessity because it isn’t possible in the wild. It’s a place where we’re taught by Father and we learn to truly rely on Father to meet our needs. I find that in this wilderness I don’t know what I thought I did before so disappears the need to right as there’s a good chance I would be wrong, so I just live without caring about what might be right or wrong, or of who else might be right or wrong in what they say or how they may live. It’s in the wilderness that we’ll learn what it means to die to self which is exactly where this all started, in a garden, in the wild, where our Father had our full attention, where he told us who we are and we knew his love personally, and we were secure and confident, and we didn’t need anyone else to prop us up, and we knew peace. Rules are for kids, there are no rules in the wilderness, just living day to day. At least that’s how I’m seeing my life and some some others out here in the wild, unfolding. Please add any insight you may also have to my comments Wayne, I always appreciate your insights and hearing more of your journey!
I was part of traditional congregations back in the day when they were less “institutional”. Being from a small town where friends and family attended the same congregation for generations, it was more like an extended community. Theological differences, however, eventually separated those families. To be honest my most formative experiences and the mentors God brought me were mostly outside even that congregation. My father had a profound impact on me spiritually. The things that engaged me always had to do with God being real in our daily lives and what it meant to be transformed by him. I unknowingly fought against that with the religious tools I’d been given so there was this see-saw effect of God touching me, my working those religious tools harder, him seemingly fading away (though now I know I was the one fading away), then desperation and surrender, a fresh awakening, and then the religion tools again. Repeat! Repeat! Repeat!
I appreciate your story Kevin and in some ways mirrors my own. The wilderness is always a great place to grow, though it challenges us to our very core. I like the spacious places of refreshing much better, which we need, though they don’t often contribute to growth. But I’ve met enough people in my story to know that God has a unique way of working with all of us. My path isn’t necessarily someone else’s and he can accomplish similar things in them through vastly different circumstances and instruction. I love all the ways God works to invite people into his reality and then into his freedom and away from the domination of self and the brokenness it causes…
Thanks Wayne. I totally get what you’re saying. I lived the see-saw experience for many years as well. Trying now to help my kids avoid the same trappings. All the best in 2018 Wayne!
Kevin: thank you for sharing your wilderness experience. I can truly relate. It is encouraging to know that there are others out there that are going through something similar, and that I am not the only one.
So much of it is about setting straight what was crooked and seeing Father as he really is. And coming to be known by him, and seeing myself as he sees me.
Just rereading your description of wilderness, I just went check, check, check. I would love to hear you expand on that some more, and explore with you.
You might also want to read my comments to Wayne, farther down the list.
Hey Craig, I always enjoy working through life and journey together with friends. Your comment, “setting straight what was crooked”, or as John the Baptist said, “one calling in the wilderness, prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths.” I think it’s very important that a person know what it is that they expect to receive in order to truly identify and (receive) accept it when the opportunity presents itself. For me that is about making “paths straight” and clear, which were once crooked and gnarled up with underbrush and dead-fall. (basically how it is that religion and habits have formed a misunderstanding of who Father is and what he truly loves and requires of me) I think for me, the wilderness is that place where we leave everything and most everyone we ever thought we knew behind, armed only with a machete to cut away what’s in front of us, we could care less about living or dying or the preservation of anything of this world; it is know the Truth, Way, and Life,or bust. Nothing of the old world, not even your life itself has any value or meaning; “meet with me Father or I’m dead (in spirit) anyway.” This wilderness, by my definition and to me, is not something anymore that I face with anguish or fear, it is my mountaintop.
I like what you said there to Wayne about being freed from my mind-centeredness. It seems in the wilderness Father takes us to the heart of the matter, his heart on the matter, which becomes written on our hearts, bye-bye theology, hello relationship. Wayne talks a lot about knowing Father’s love and living in that place. He is right on the money as far as I’m concerned, but in this over-indulgent full of distracted, medicated, and self-medicated society, I don’t think many know how to turn “everything off” around them and find that place. The bottom line is that when we don’t know Father’s love we will still pursue love at any cost, looking for it and expecting it from others along with a great deal of attempting to self-love (self-centeredness, self-medicating, narcissism), which is like a powerful drug that we crave, hoping to escape reality and know satisfaction, only to be left dissatisfied, craving more, and becoming quite ugly and tortured throughout the process. The only healing option then becomes “death” to self; pack a small bag, head into the wilderness, and let the chips fall where they may.
But there is much to learn and much to discuss. Tell me your thoughts Craig and let’s compare notes.
Kevin: I would really like to continue this conversation, but it’s probably better to exit this thread. You could leave your email address, or maybe Wayne could pass ours on to each other.
Looking forward to keeping it going…
I’ll pass on your email to Kevin, so if he has an interest he can be in touch…
Thank you, Wayne.
Got it. We’re rolling.
It has taken most of my life to come to realize that only God can speak to a human heart. And that our hearts are in desperate need of hearing God’s voice. And that Truth, the Person, is unfolding reality in my heart. And that Truth, the Person, cannot be learned in a classroom, or even in life. That Truth comes to me by being present with Father, and sitting with him, and letting him minister Truth to my heart.
“The Jews were astonished, saying, ‘How has this man become learned, having never been educated?’ So Jesus answered, ‘My teaching is not mine, but His who sent me.'” There is a way to become learned, and apparently it is not by getting educated. I have discovered that my greatest obstacle to getting at Truth has been my need to learn and study and understand. His love for me is making me heart-centered while setting me free of my mind-centeredness.
I like to believe that, even though the disciples understood little of what Jesus said and did, there was something hugely miraculous going on that their hearts began to comprehend. That Jesus was preparing their hearts to hear Father on their own. Then they, especially John, tried to explain that heart comprehension in their gospels. And that ‘another comforter’ was speaking to their hearts and leading them into all Truth.
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”
I trust that the Spirit of God will continue to prepare hearts to be receptive, and unfold Truth to those hearts in his time.
One of your best…..plain & simple… Only problem with “wilderness”—- Its soooo wild. hmmm.
Thanks once again Wayne for letting the truth flow through your words in this post. So wonderfully clear. I had been pondering the new year and bumped into some things I had copied from your post from the start of 2017 last year. It had been spot on with what has been transpiring in me for the last many years. Then when I saw this post and got to the third paragraph, I almost gasped out loud – it was as if you had taken the words right out of my heart/mind. A friend once let me know that “if there is not no joy in your christianity, then you don’t have the real christianity”. As you state so clearly, revelation comes to us, and no revelation before its time. When I wondered years ago why this revealing took so long for me to ‘see’, it was then in that gentle whisper came – he stopped me from over analyzing it and showed me that my heart was not ready back then. That wilderness season Kevin notes was one for myself where he was teaching my guarded heart how to receive love. Sure hope you can come north to Canada again soon..
Thanks for this Wayne and for continuing to share your journey with us so humbly – It is freeing to know and remember this. It always puzzled me how often Jesus’s parables seemed so obscure and very short on Biblical exegesis. But clearly he knew that His words would speak to the right person at the right time and if that person was not ready any amount of explanation and clever argument would not help. If only we could be as trusting!
“Truth has its time.”
Thank you, thank you, so many times over. I am grateful for Lifestream and the joyful
Your insights and transparency are helping me breathe a sigh of relief…Thank you!
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