While I was recently stalking your blog and going through random pieces of your writing, I stumbled on a story about a man swimming in a pool and a woman standing there and talking to him and I can't remember much else but the feel of the scene and it's been haunting me ever since. I can't seem to find that piece again and was wondering if you knew what I was talking about and could possibly repost it?
Click HERE for the link. Thank you very much for your kind words. I hope it lives up to your memory. Be bold and reveal your identity sometime so that we can be friends!
My freshman year of college I sent my mom these numbered text messages. I can’t remember how it started, but I’d probably have to guess that it was a mixture of homesickness and feeling like I was in over my head. Every so often, I would send her a message that outlined a different lesson I had learned on that particular day. Sometimes I would send five a day, sometimes I would send five a month. They ranged from trivial (Lesson #5: Don’t use trays in the cafe, Lesson #17: The dryer that costs a dollar does the same work the wind does for free) to extremely important (Lesson #13: God breaks you before he builds you, Lesson #65: Satan wants me dead). It’s been years since I’ve done this, but I learned a new one today:
Lesson #77: The Truth is more powerful than lies.
As monumentally anti-climatic as that may sound, stick with me.
I was weeding today. As you might have guessed, my skills in horticulture are, one might say, lacking; but it was for my grandmother (and who can say no to a thing like that) so I went outside and got to work.
My grandmother has this chain-link fence behind her house that was covered by an overgrown bush. Somehow it became my job to trim back the shrubbery until the fence was visible again.
So I got to work (cutting everything in sight, obviously), but I was quickly stopped by my seventy-six year old grandmother who burst out the door of her house and said, “I don’t want that cut!” After a lengthy discussion about the differences between plants and weeds (which didn’t clarify too much for me) I went back to work. The rest of the time I was out there I kept thinking, “How the heck am I supposed to know what is a weed and what isn’t?”
Being the one person on earth who takes EVERY thought much too far, I got to thinking, “How the heck am I supposed to know what is good and what isn’t? How am I supposed to know what’s true and what isn’t?” I’m not talking bout Satan and Jesus here. Satan is bad. Jesus is good. Satan tells lies. Jesus tells the Truth.
But what about when things get hazy?
Are you supposed to go to this college or that? Are you supposed to tell someone this piece of advice or not? Do you hang out with this person or not? Am I supposed to be a lawyer or a writer?
Men far greater than I have written books that go into tremendous detail on each of these subjects; however, I hope that this will serve as a starting point for all of them.
When we weigh those options in our head, we’re clearly trying to figure out which one is the “good” one. If you’re a Christian (even if you’re not, you’ll see that the rest of my argument applies to you on a basic level) you’re trying to figure out which avenue is the path of Christ.
I would suggest, as humbly as I can, that what we are truly in search of is the decision of power. I’m not talking about “We’re looking for the decision that will lead us into a position of power,” (though that may sometimes be the underlying case). I mean that at the end of the day we want to make choices that carry weight. We’re all in desperate hope of finding some sort of truth. When we are met with two equal decisions, we judge them with the mindset of “Which of these two things is combustible? Which of these is going somewhere?”
We do this in the positive (I’m going to do X so that I can then have Z) and negative (I’m not going to do A so that I can have C) senses. For me it’s, “I’m going to go to law school so that I can become a lawyer that will change the world,” or “I’m not going to get drunk so that I can be filled with the Holy Spirit” In both of these senses, I’m hoping that my primary decision will have a powerful result, or, at least, will be caught up in the revolutions of some greater machine.
We long for the most path that is most powerful. We long for the decision that is going to strike that gorgeous chord and echoe for generations and generations.
Here’s where this all ties into Lesson #77. I believe that Jesus Christ was the ultimate author, example, and keeper of the Truth. I don’t mean that he had some secret knowledge (though his ways are higher than mine), I don’t mean that he was writing the script as he was going along.
I mean, quite simply, that every single gesture that Christ made was dripping in power.
You see, the Truth is far more powerful than lies. Lies may hurt, they may cause severe damage, but are they going to cripple you? Are they going to kill you?
So you’re scratching your head at this point. Saying, “Well, Jay, lies don’t cripple people and they don’t kill people, but neither does the truth. What gives?”
And I’d have to say you’re right.
But the power of the the Truth does something that lies can’t.
"I am the way, the truth, and the life." (Jesus in John 14:6)
And what did that truth do?
"Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake." (Matthew 14:5)
"Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them.” (Matthew 15:30)
"There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the LORD came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, "Do no be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” (Matthew 28:2-6)
Now, I’m sure many of you are rolling your eyes saying, “I don’t believe in the Bible,” and you may have some very well thought-out reasons for believing that. To you I offer this challenge: the next time you have a major decision, look for the one with the weight of Truth. I can’t explain it to you. It’s not a color, or a shape, it doesn’t systematically follow a formula that I can say, “Ah-ha! There it is;” it’s just a new depth. In my mind I see the two above my head and one of them just explodes with purpose that has nothing to do with anything inside myself. One of them has a power that far outweighs the other, even if I see the two paths as equals within the scope my reason and emotions. I promise you (and I don’t break promises) that at the end of that road, if you truly look for an objective depth, you’ll find Jesus Christ, because I believe he perfected Truth in the most powerful fashion imaginable.
To those of you who believe: remember our Jesus. The next time things get hazy. The next time you find yourself saying, “I can’t tell which ones a weed and which one isn’t. I can’t tell which one is Christ and which one is the Devil,” look for power.
That power which reached down into the depths of hell and pulled up your miser’s soul (and you and I both know how deep that pit is). That power which gave the blind sight.
That power which said, “I’ll see you in three days” and then walked out of the tomb, because there, too, is Truth.
It may not be passionate. One may not be more “attractive” than the other one; but I’m willing to bet that the majority of the time, if one is truly the better option, it will weigh a heck of a lot more.
“Do believe it, Christian, that thy sin is a condemned thing. It may kick and struggle, but it is doomed to die. God has written condemnation across its brow. Christ has crucified it, nailing it to his cross. Go now and mortify it, and the Lord help you to live to His praise, for sin with all it’s guilt, it’s shame, and fear, is gone.”—Charles Spurgeon in a conversation I recently had with him.
In the last couple of months, amazing things have happened that show progress and accountability to ensure that the LGBTQ community has the same rights and respect as everyone else. THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES came out in support of gay marriage. Jay-Z, arguably the biggest rapper in the world, then followed. Finally, Frank Ocean felt comfortable enough with himself to share his sexuality in his music and came out last week. That is courage.
This song is a humble submission to help bring this conversation to the surface, so that we can reflect on the language we use, and how powerful it can be. Rethinking, and understanding the gravity of how we communicate with each other. Change happens when dialogue happens. When we confront our prejudice and are honest with ourselves, there is room for growth, and there is room for justice. After I wrote this song, I played it for a friend of mine who happened to be involved with the Music for Marriage Equality campaign, uniting musicians to help Washington state become the very first to approve marriage equality by a public vote in November.
Macklemore has heavy words for the hip hop culture, and Christians, if you listen for it. My applause to moving forward in this conversation.
“I often find myself believing that I have out dreamed God, that he has somehow limited what I might become. And then I reach that moment, where I reevaluate who God truly may be, and it is in that hour that I realize that God has dreamed for me infinitely in his own direction. To confuse misdirection for limitation is to bury our heads from the untamable purposes of God.”—Christian Tenbrook