“Un-Crossing the T”

For the law was given through Moses;

grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

– John 1:17

How you ever believed a lie?  Swallowed a whopper hook, line and sinker only to discover that it was a falsehood fabricated in a misrepresentation, wrapped in a warp and tied up with a tainted twist?

I have.

What lie did I swallow?  About whom?  Well, to “begin at the beginning,” it wasn’t one lie, but several.  From a trusted, high-profile source I respected.

Davis (pseudonymn) and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on a certain product and the institutional priorities and financial resources surrounding its development and distribution.  He had his data; I had mine.  A long-time employee with power and position, my former colleague manipulated the situation in his favor by omitting key facts and mangling others.  Leveraging his considerable influence to rally stockholders to his cause, Davis crafted and choreographed a “crossing the T” campaign like Lord Nelson at Trafalgar.*  The effect was withering, but the target wasn’t another ship, product, proposal, or priority.  It was me.  The main casualties?  Grace and Truth.

Trying to make some sense of this later, I asked God: “What’s true here?  Is Davis right, accurate?”  Davis’s thundering pronouncements had me doubting my skills and abilities.  Myself.  “I know what Davis thinks – but what do You think?”

Ever notice how you can get so wrapped up in wanting to hear from God on a specific issue or question that you start demanding He speak?  The louder you holler, the less able you are to hear.  Sometimes God isn’t speaking on that subject that day, so be patient and keep listening.

Thumbing through my Bible later, I revisited my question about Truth. My Bible opened to Ephesians 2:10:

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

The word “workmanship” connotes “work of art.”  “Prepared in advance” carries forward the theme of God’s sovereign purpose and planning.  In other words, no “oops” moments.  What are the odds my Bible would fall open to just this page, on just this day?  But that’s not all.

Over the next week I “just happened” to catch two songs, one poem and two separate books by different authors published more than twenty years apart that spoke directly to the topic at hand.  Coincidence?  Or was God speaking?

That “still, small voice” whispered, “You’re my work of art.”  High quality.  Beautiful.  Precious.  Masterpiece.  Created to do “good works.”  Not junk.  And not what Davis asserted or assumed.

I could almost see the Lord smiling.  At me!

Buoyed by vociferous objections to “the Davis spin” from family, friends and co-workers, my heart lightened by a ton and a half.  The “T” began to lift, list.  Sink.

Now don’t misunderstand.  I’m not suggesting you automatically discount or ignore what’s hard to hear just because it’s hard to hear.  Dismissing wise counsel or loving reproof can short-circuit your spiritual health and cripple your growth.  But don’t assume that a big name or a robust personality attached to a value judgment makes it valid.  Or that they’ve cornered the market on truth.  Check.  The goal of biblical confrontation should be edifying and restoring (See Matthew 18 and Galatians 6:1,2).  If crushing or condemning are in play, dig deeper and:

–         Evaluate motive.  Was it to help or harm?  Mend or malign?  Was there overt hostility?  Disrespect?  Self-righteous rock-chucking?  Were you a target of truth or a convenient opportunity to unload some residual resentment?

–         Ask: how well does this person know me?  Are they in any position to issue an accurate, definitive value judgment?  If the frank feedback of close family members or friends is markedly different from what your source alleges, take note.  (Also take the other party with a grain of salt.  Maybe a big one.)

–         Is the criticism or complaint demonstrably off-base?  Did they presume or pre-judge?  Is there something else in play?  Stress?  Fatigue?  A power-play?  Head trip?  Intimidation?

–         Do they have all the facts, or did they pick and choose those that support their views or version?

–         Were you given a chance to explain?

–          Was  a hidden agenda in play?  Did the other party engage you directly, one-on-one, or did they drag others into the fray to brace a sagging backbone?  (This is the mark of a coward.  It may also constitute spiritual abuse.)

–         Follow-up if possible.  If the other person is unable or unwilling to engage, that’s a clue.  At this point it may be best to disconnect and move on.  This is especially important if the relationship turns toxic, or if the other person holds a position such that further damage can be inflicted or distortions disseminated unchallenged.  Get out and get safe.

–         Search for Truth in what God says via His Word, outside counsel, salient facts and other avenues.  Evaluate.  Ask.  Listen.  Evaluate again.

I eventually realized that Davis’s tactics were more about him and his issues than they were about me.  Exposed to the light, the lies and license shriveled and died.  Truth “uncrossed” the T.

Stronger and sturdier from my “naval engagement,” I look at the open water ahead and give thanks.  For frank friends and family.  For a still, small voice.  And for Davis, who gave me reason to leave the harbor and launch into a “big blue” I hadn’t seen before.  Surging into the surf, my sails fill with the twin winds of grace and truth.  Their welcome return signals a fair wind.  The sea is up, the water running fresh and free.  Full steam ahead!

* “Crossing or capping the T” is a classic naval warfare tactic attempted from the late 19th to mid 20th century, in which a line of warships crossed in front of a line of enemy ships, allowing the crossing line to bring all their guns to bear while receiving minimal fire from only the forward guns of the enemy.   The tactic was employed by Lord Nelson at t he Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, when the British defeated a combined French and Spanish fleet in the most decisive and important naval battle of the Napoleonic Wars.

***
Stay tuned for Part 1 of our seven-part series on Simple Church, followed by an eight-part discussion based on 10 Lies the Church Tells Women. Because it’s generated significant interest,  a series on “Spiritual Abuse” launches in March.

And…

If you’re interested in ministry to children, don’t miss our new blog, Victory Circle, “where ‘little victories’ matter.  MOST.”

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