Monday, August 27, 2012

Truth be Told

This week we are going to be baring our souls a little bit.  Okay, I admit, we've done a little of that here already, but this week our whole theme is confession.  We'll be confessing some sins we struggle with, and finding strength from God's word as we seek to overcome those sins. ~Melissa
This is the first in a series of two posts about telling the truth

Let's be honest.  I struggle to tell the truth.  It's not so much that I make a habit of lying directly. I almost never lie.  Instead I deceive with silence.  I smile instead of express my anger.  I swallow my resentment and refuse to speak my heart.  When my family is in a crisis, when my heart is broken, when I would benefit enormously from my sisters' support, I can't bring myself to speak. I skim over my prayers with a quick, "Please forgive me of all my sins" as if I could prevent the All-Seeing Lord from really seeing me.  I hide behind a minimal amount of truth.

 Do you remember when Jesus sat by a well at lunch time and talked with a woman drawing water? (John 4) She was really good at hiding too.  However she finds herself unable to hide from Jesus.

It's a fascinating conversation.  Bizarrely, Jesus keeps answering questions that the woman has not asked.  She asks him why he's asking her for water since Jewish men don't talk to Samaritans and especially not Samaritan women.  He replies that she doesn't know who he is or she would have asked him for water! What?  That wasn't the question.  She asks him how he is going to get the water anyway since it is a deep well and he doesn't have a bucket.  He answers that the one who drinks the water he has to offer will never thirst again.

Although she has not revealed a single thing about herself in this conversation, her strange behavior uncovers her.  She is out drawing water in the middle of the day.  Those of us with running water in the house may not immediately see why this is so perplexing.  To this day around the developing world, water is drawn first thing in the morning.  The gruel that will be eaten for breakfast must be cooked, faces have to be scrubbed, vegetables have to be boiled, dishes have to be washed, and all this work can not begin until the water is drawn.  With a busy day ahead, no wife or mother has time to wait until noon to go get the water.  Drawing water is very often a community event.  Everyone is going at the same time anyway so it becomes an opportunity to talk together.

So why is she meeting Jesus here at lunch time?  Jesus already knew.  He said to her, "Go, call your husband and come here." (John 4:16) Here is her chance.  Her opportunity to reveal herself, to tell the truth.  She replies, "I have no husband."  Well, that's the truth.  It's the kind of truth I am good at.  It's not a lie.  However it doesn't even begin to touch the situation.

Jesus is not done with his surprises here.  For the first time in this conversation he responds directly to something she has said.  He dryly comments that she did tell the truth then he speaks more truth.  "You have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband" (John 4:18). Jesus sees her so clearly.  I have had several conversations with my husband, the person who knows and loves me best in the world, where I say 10% of the truth and then he says the other 90%.  It is devastating.  I feel for her.

She and I have in common a desire to hide.  She hid from her community by coming to the well at noon.  She hid from the stranger she was talking to by telling a minimal and partial truth.  She will go on hiding by trying to distract and annoy him with a question (John 4:19). I hide too.  I cheerfully put up a placid facade and bury all the things I think and do-positive and negative alike.  And like the Samaritan woman, sometimes I am seen.  Reading my bible or talking with a sister, my mask is pierced, and I am laid bare. 

I need to be more honest. I need to tell the people around me the truth.  They want to know me, they want to love me, and if I am always hiding they have no chance.  I need to tell myself the truth.  As I have reminded my daughter many times before, "Sin we cannot take responsibility for is sin we cannot repent of." Repentance is tied closely to truth-telling.  And if, in fear and doubt, I can not tell the whole truth to anyone else, surely I can to the One from whom I can not hide (Psalms 139). 

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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