Thursday, September 23, 2004
Buying a car is no big deal. If you get the wrong one you can sell it and try another.
Research has to be balanced. There's a relationship between the quality of the research and the quality of the results.
Research also has to be honest. You have to be ready for surprises. You have to be ready to abandon a partial answer in favor of an answer that begins to look better. It takes skill and practice to learn this balance.
Some people research things to death. I had a couple of co-workers who spent years looking at camcorders, and toward the end they just got more confused. Comparing features, making a guess as to quality, endless discussions, round and round. Eventually they made choices, as much to end the cycle of confusion as to get the camcorder they needed. This decision didn't really matter. If it's wrong, it's a recoverable error.
Decisions about how to spend the rest of your life are different. These matter. Some people research this to death and never go anywhere. Others do no research and get burned. Truth is somewhere in between.
I decided to turn to Jesus in 1971 because I couldn't see much coming in my future that I liked. How do you research God? I bypassed most of the research I could have done, thought about what God offered, and made the decision.
I turned away from God in 1980 because I couldn't find the truth. This was another decision; I could see, at the time, no reality to God.
Some people spend a lot of time asking questions about God. They get answers, and then come up with more questions. The Pharisees in Jesus' time were always asking for one more miracle so they'd KNOW he was the Messiah, the One promised by God to save them from their sin. I've known people like this. No matter how good an answer I give them, they don't accept it.
God is hard to see. The world is full of bad examples. Bad examples are, however, only that.
If you want to find truth you have to work. Ask questions, look at the answers, think about them, relate them to your life and then keep building. Truth is shy and easy to drive away. It is very sturdy, however, so it'll still be there the next time you look after the noise has died down.
And there's push as well as pull. God is always pulling us toward him, but sometimes we need some push. In my case it was looking into the future and really not liking what I saw. That provided some push, but what would pull me into something new? First I had to see an alternative, and that happened at Mosaic.
Here was a group of people who enjoyed doing what they were doing. What kind of God made people want to come to church and work? What kind of God allowed them to be themselves and yet working on these teams? He was a God I hadn't seen before. When the time came to make another decision, asking for God's help or not, it really wasn't that hard.
I still didn't expect an answer. Yes, God cared about what these people were doing as a church, but would He care about a man just looking for a change in his life? The answer turned out to be a very strong Yes!
Since then I've done a lot of research I should have done in 1971 and following. God doesn't mind questions. He'll answer with the truth.
Following Jesus is a daily decision. Do I keep allowing Him to direct my life, or do I live my way? From my research, a combination of reading, talking to people and experience, the answer is to follow Jesus. He knows me better than I do.
I know people who have turned away. I know others to whom Jesus isn't that real. I expect events in my life that will present the same difficult decision to me: follow or turn away. Even strong people are overwhelmed. Even those who trust God for everything decide to do something wrong. We make mistakes. I hope my next one doesn't run 23 years because I know what living without God is like. The lights get turned off.
This is on my mind right now because I'm scared. God gives us freedom. I am free to turn away at any time. I hope I decide not to do that but even research and truth can be overcome by fear.
And I'm also discouraged by some of my co-workers. We've talked about Jesus and they just keep asking questions. The answers just seem to bounce off. I understand mistrust. I understand fear. Sometimes you just have to move anyway, make a decision on data that seem inadequate, and I wish that these people could see God's truth. There is a sort of research that hides the truth because it raises so much dust and noise.