Truth Imprisoned

Some chaotic thoughts on Mark 6:14-29
The disciple’s work in your name was making some noise. King Herod heard they had been sent by you and were doing wonders. Herod had a curious heart, a heart intrigued by the preaching of John the Baptizer. John spoke truth to Herod, pointed out the ways he was not living correctly. Herod didn’t like this, but he couldn’t deny he wanted to hear more of what John had to say, because he knew John was holy and righteous. Did Herod think keeping John in prison, safe from Herodias, made him a holy and righteous?

He kept the truth locked up, close by, controlled. Didn’t heed it, but toyed with it. Keeping it safe salved his conscience. Herod had the truth killed because of his pride, but couldn’t silence it’s influence upon him. When he heard of Jesus and the work the disciples were doing, the same fear, curiosity and guilt arose.

How am I (you) like Herod? How do I (you) attempt manage God’s truth? How do I (you) keep God’s truth in prison; nearby so I (you) can listen to it when I (you) want, and shut it up when it gets too close? How does this fool me (you) into believing l am (you are) righteous?

God, I take great heart knowing your truth cannot be imprisoned or killed. My pride cannot silence it, you persist in chasing me, poking me, stirring my conscience. We know the end of the story for Herod, even at Jesus’ trial, he was still seeking truth and not recognizing it even though it was staring him in the face. God, I don’t want to be like Herod, your truth trailing me, and me being blind to it or trying to force it to coddle me and my vanities.

Truth, I know there are areas in my life where I heed you, others where I put you in prison. Break free, Truth. Chase me down. Stare me in the face. You do not serve at my beck and call. “If I make your word my home I am indeed your disciple, I will learn the truth and the truth shall make me free.” So be it. Amen.

Will you join me in setting truth free so we can be set free?

Who do you invite to your pity party?

Elijah, the great prophet of God, was Yahweh’s instrument in defeating the gods of Baal. God used Elijah to gain a resounding victory over the pagan priests, the evil King Ahab and his wicked wife, Queen Jezebel. You’d think he’d be doing a victory dance. Instead he runs off to the wilderness out of fear of retaliation. (I Kings 19)

At this point, Elijah was discouraged, disappointed in himself and ashamed of his fear. He knew he shouldn’t be afraid, but he was; he expected better from himself. He failed to trust God and this failure lead him to want to end it all. “It is enough; now, Oh Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.”

But I suspect he didn’t really want to die, if so he would not have taken rest from the sun under the lush leaves of the only broom tree around. Angry with himself, he was having a pity party; but at least he invited God to the party.

God showed up. The Lord graciously provided the lonely broom tree for Elijah’s comfort and nourishment; promised him God’s uninterrupted presence and assured Elijah that he was still necessary in God’s plan for Israel.

I appreciate Elijah’s honest explanation of his running-away-behavior when questioned by God. I’ve been very zealous for you, Lord. All the other Israelites have forsaken you, and killed your messengers. I’m the only one left, and they are out to get me. I had to run. He spoke truthfully to the Lord. It turns out it that the ‘truth’ he believed was not The Truth, but it was his ‘truth’, his honest emotional experience.

It is permissible and even necessary to own our ‘truth’ before God. Our true emotional experience cannot be hidden, it needs to be brought into conversation with God. Even when it is self-focussed, entitled, angry or accusing, it is our reality and God is a God of reality. Change begins with this honest confession. Invite God to your party.

Emptying our hearts of our ‘truth’ makes room for God to pour in The Truth. Our vision is narrow, limited by hindrances of habit and sin. God kindly widens our perspective, granting us a glimpse of reality.

Like Elijah, fear fuels our escapes, we think we must hide from its source. God’s presence and word reminds us that God’s power conquers the root of all fear. His command to Elijah and to us is face your fears, in fact run toward them not away from them. God’s presence and our obedience is fear’s defeat.