I have come to realize God meets people where they are.
When I was growing up, the idea of “finding yourself” was popular. I had the idea that I needed to go out into the world to find myself, and that’s what I did. I remember the old adage that the wind can’t carry a ship that is at anchor, or a ship at anchor can’t be steered in any direction (or something like that), and I have given that guidance to my children. You have to get up and move, even if you don’t know precisely where you are going.
I think that is generally good advice. It has held me in good stead. If we wait around for the perfect opportunity to come our way, it may never come. We even find wisdom along those lines in Proverbs (16:9)(NASB):
The mind of a man plans his way,
but the Lord directs his steps.
So, when I set out to search for truth as a young adult who had squandered my teenage years in reckless drinking, drug use and risky behavior, I thought the truth was “out there” for me to find.
In more recent generations, the conventional wisdom might run more along the line of finding the truth within. Oprah Winfrey and other popular prophets of modern modern wisdom would say we don’t need to go searching for the truth because the truth is within all of us.
I have come to see the truth of the matter slightly differently than both paradigms. I think we can find the truth “out there”, and we can find the truth “within”, but neither paradigm is really accurate.
They are both accurate to the extent that we need to be looking for it! We need to orientate our hearts toward “finding it”. We need to value the truth for its own sake and be willing to let go of anything that runs counter to it – even if we don’t like it, even if the truth doesn’t look all that attractive to us, even of the truth is hard.
At the same time, the truth isn’t necessarily “out there”, and it isn’t “within” either. I am (you are) not the arbiter of truth. “My truth” doesn’t mean anything in the face of reality. We don’t talk about “my scientific truth”, and we shouldn’t talk about “my spiritual truth” – if we are really interested in truth at all.