His angry words stung me. The shadows of evening stretched long across my backyard as the city stretched and yawned into evening. I sat there, the novel I was reading calling me, as text after text poured into my phone. The man, a stranger to me, was furious that I had backed out of our negotiations over a facebook marketplace listing I wanted to buy.
He questioned me saying, “It’s not that I don’t trust you…it’s just that I don’t trust anyone. If I mail it to you,” he pondered aloud, “how will I know you will pay?” On and on it went until I finally said I would find what I was looking for elsewhere which then incited his rage. There was nothing I could do to guarantee to this stranger that my word was true. And his questions have been echoed in many forms for many, many years: “How can I know?”
In fact, Pilate had his own truth question that he asked of his oddly silent prisoner one early morning in Jerusalem. There, as the shadows shortened and the city woke and called for innocent blood, “What is truth?” Pilate scoffed.
If only he knew who stood before him: Truth Himself.
Philippians 4 gives us a list of things to think on. And I am glad for that – because in the struggle with anxiety, there is little less helpful than simply saying “don’t”. No, the Scripture tells us that He is at hand. He is near and He is listening, even when our bodies and souls feel otherwise. And more than that, here are the types of things that bring us life instead of withering our courage away with anxiety: True things, honorable things, things that are just, pure, lovely, and commendable. Is there excellence? Do they make your heart well up in praise? Think about those things.
There is really nothing we do alone in the Christian life. We’re trees that wait to bear fruit, we’re sinners that need saving, we’re branches on a vine, we’re children in our Father’s house, we’re stones in His temple, body parts in the body of Christ. And yet, even though He is the power that works in us, He asks us to be active in our own growth. Not because He needs us, but because He longs for us to be willing and He longs for us to truly see the beauty of all that He is. He says generously, “Here, set aside the worry and think on these things instead.”
He is not going to drag us into sanctification, He’s going to draw us there. And one of the ways He does that in my life is to let me soak in the swamp of fear and anxiety – and long for the clear windswept heights of freedom in Christ – enough that I call out to Him to help me.
And where is He? At hand. With a haven of good things to seek in my daily life. And first on the list of soul care?
Whatever is true. So we’re back to Pilate’s question – what is truth?
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).
What is true is His word. And He is the Word of truth. The Word is true and knowing Him, the Truth, sets us free. Free from what? Jesus’ listeners asked the same thing. “We’re children of Abraham,” they protested, “we’ve never been enslaved to anyone.” Odd they would say that. They had spent over 400 years in slavery in Egypt! And they were currently under occupation from Rome. They were hardly free.
What about us? Do we live as if the truth has set us free? Or as if it has further bound us? Do we have new appetites or have we just been chained and controlled by our old ones? We hear God say, “Abide in my word…you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Do we think, “Since when am I not free?” I do this. I thank God for freedom on Sunday and live like I am not free on Monday.
Have I tasted God and found Him good today? Do I let my appetite run wild for Him? Or do I push it down, tell myself I have enough, and deny my own need for Him?
Have you, like me, stood in the middle of half-put-away groceries with kids fighting all around you, sticky floors mocking, while a hundred pesky non-urgent but terribly important things – doctor’s appointments, nexus applications and packing for vacation all nags at your subconscious – and felt hopeless? Have you found yourself hungry for something, aching for more? It's not really about the crushed cheerios or missed deadlines in front of you, it’s more.
But “I’m saved!” you ponder. So why do the lies feel so true? “I don’t have time for all this. My children are conflict prone. I know I’m going to forget something important. We are slobs. Why do we eat so much? We’ll never be able to afford it if food gets any more expensive.” Do you know you can take all those lies and cavernous needs and throw it at Him? I don’t want to be flippant here, He literally commands us to cast our needs on Him.
Did you know that in those moments, what is more real than the child that wiped out on said sticky floors - is truth? Which is – Him? That in those lonely moments when life and lies press in on all sides we can simply cry out, “Lord! I need…something!” And cast our cares on Him with no backup plan.
It's there, then, that He fills us up and sets us free - with truth. When we cast ourselves and our neat expectations on Him. When we are honest about all we struggle with and all we’re still craving. He meets us there.
Will we still have to get all the groceries into the fridge? Soothe the child? Make the appointments and clean the floors? Yes. But what will make all the difference? Him. Because He is true. More true than the things in front of me.
I thought that knowing the truth meant knowing the basics of the gospel, and knowing how and why my church practiced the way it did. I thought that showing up for said church gatherings would in fact, make me free. But it is so much more than that. In fact, even if I were never able to come or appreciate another church gathering, He would be just as faithful and I would be just as free. Why? Because He is the truth independent of me. He sets me free from all the lies that bind me.
And what is the truest thing about me? I am His. He knows me. I know Him. Freedom is not in a list of things we know or do. It is in Him. He is true. He has made me free. How? He has made me right before God. All the grief I have ever felt over my own sin or the sin of others, all the dread and punishment of sin that we have ever known was poured out on His Son. There is nothing between my Creator and I but grace.
So because of Him, I do have enough time. In Him, I can meet the challenges of my day because “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). My children are no more conflict prone than I or anyone else is. They and I are sinners and we can “...overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). In Him, even if we forget something important, we are “more than conquerors through Him” (Romans 8:37). Just tell yourself you’re a conqueror next time your kid spills their juice! And finally, He knows that we need all the basics of life, and promises to meet those needs (Matt 6:25-33). even if grocery prices these days make me feel like I am spending Monopoly money.
Knowing Him is knowing the truth. But knowing the truth is not just about head knowledge. When the Bible speaks of knowing, it means intimacy. So I come boldly before the throne of grace to find the help I desperately need, when I desperately need it, knowing that I am always, always accepted. Welcomed, heard, and intimately knowing and known.
Me. A normal, busy mom that loses it with her kids and husband and is late to almost everything. Who uses her quick wit to tear down instead of build up. Someone that worries and doubts and fears and struggles with the flesh every single day. What is the truest thing about even me?
I am His. In His death, I have life. That’s the truth that I can dwell on, that gives me life in the middle of all my failure.
And just like that stranger on Facebook, I want to know what I can depend on. What is true. I couldn’t guarantee to that man anything – he doesn’t know me. But I do know Christ. In Him, I can know the truth because to know Him is to know the truth.
He came so that life would be abundant. Not just obedient like I thought. To know the truth is to know Him. To know Him is life eternal starting right now, at my messy kitchen table. Because who He is, is life.
What is truth? He is. What does He invite me to dwell on? Dwell in? Him.