Sunday, November 22, 2009
Truth or Consequences?
I recently met a lady who told me she was having a party. She'd bought beautiful invitations, planned a fully catered meal with dessert tables and hired a bartender to manage a full bar.
I'm not wealthy by any stretch of the means. I'm not sure I'd recognize ole' Benjamin if he ran by the house flying his kite naked. But judging from Teresa's (that's what we'll call her) dress and her 1987 Dodge, I figured she wasn't in the position to even know whose face donned the front of a $100 bill. So I asked her, "Teresa, why the big party and better yet, did someone die and leave you a truck load of money?"
"Well, as a matter of fact, dad's brother died and I'm the only remaining relative. So I got his small estate."
**Open mouth, insert foot.** I tried to load my groceries in the car without looking her in the eye. Maybe that Freudian slip breezed over her head.
The next logical question had to be asked. "So why the big party? You planning on dying soon, too?"
"Funny you should say that. The doctor informed me I have stage 4 breast cancer."
In the Smokey Mountains there are these huge boulders in the rivers. I wanted to crawl under one. Since, I was two for two, I ventured on to ask yet another stupid question.
"Okay, at the risk of finishing off what dignity I have left. Explain."
She proceeded to tell me her Uncle James had died and left her a $50K. And since fate had already crossed her pathway, she was making plans "to go out with a bang." Teresa talked about her uncle's funeral and how every person that visited his casket had something nice to say. Not one ugly thing was said about her uncle--even the ones she knew didn't particularly like him.
"I listened to people ramble on all evening about man who really only loved one thing in his life--his Chihuahua. (Figures it would be a Chihuahua, not something pleasant like, say...a golden retriever.) She said, she'd decided to have a party and host her own funeral before she passed. Her words were, "I want people to tell me the truth before I die so I can make things right if need be."
The look on my face must have screamed at her or it could have been the fact that my buggy slipped out of my hands banging against my bumper, but I just didn't think fast enough on my feet before she slipped an invitation into my hand.
"Thank you...I guess." I stammered. What do ya say to someone like that? Sorry, Teresa, I'm sure I'm busy for your pre-planned wake. I'll drop a vase of flowers by on Monday. I don't think so.
"I know you think I'm crazy. But I want the truth from people before I die. Not after. Does me no good after the fact."
I had to admit...the girl had a point. I took her invitation and slipped it in my purse. Still haven't torn open the envelope. Just don't have the gumption. But I'll tell you this. As I sit staring at an unopened linen envelope, I think Teresa probably asks the question most folks aren't brave enough to utter. What is truth?
I've thought a lot about that question over the past few months. And in the beginning I gave the standard answers -- truth is trust and honesty, not lying, being upright and righteous. Thing is, God kept saying, "Cin, dig deeper. You can figure this age old question out."
Then one day I was reading in the Book of John (He was a writer so I suppose I gravitate to his skills and craftsmanship.) The trial of Christ. That's when I suddenly saw it. I'd read the passage hundreds of times, memorized parts of it yet never recognized the answer.
Pilate mocks Christ, "You are a king, then!" said Pilate. Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king."
But this is what got me.
Jesus said, "In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."
Right there was the answer. What is truth? God is truth and Jesus came to testify that.
Funny how we read and study and never have a revelation like that. Never come to the realization that not only did Jesus come to save us but He came FIRST to testify to the truth. It's that simple, we just can't see past the ends of our noses. God is truth.
I can't say I want to be like Teresa and throw a party so people will say all the truthful things about me like, "Remember the time she had that big piece of spinach hung between her eye teeth before she spoke at that ladies conference in Atlanta? Or that even after she lost 10 lbs. the black pants still showed all the lumps and bumps of the middle age spread. Who needs that? There's something to be said for being the honored guest at a funeral...you're there but you don't have to listen to the comments. Your ears are glued closed.
The one thing I gathered from this whole "what is truth?" question was that I needed to learn what and who truth was. And if I chose to ignore the truth, at some point there would be a real consequence. I don't know about you....but I'm not a fan of consequences and I certainly don't want to choose between door number 1, door number 2 or door number 3.
I didn't go to Teresa's pre-funeral fiasco. Instead, I looked her in the eye and said, "I hope your party goes well. Knock 'em dead!"
That fell out of my mouth before I could stop it. I squinched my face and shrugged my shoulders as I pushed my buggy to the rack. I'm glad I know the Truth, the Way and the Light. He already paid the consequence for me. Now whatever door I open is a winner.