Sunday, November 20, 2022

Oh say, what is Truth?

How did I get to this point in my journey to Jesus? What is, "this point," anyways? Was I always frustrated with the church?  Did I always have so many thoughts about so many things? I think it's time I posted some more about my journey.

I have always loved the church. I displayed the prophet and apostles photos in my home. I imagined how amazing it would be if my husband "worked his way up" the ranks in the church..."then we would really be close to God". When one of my Grandparents died we were allowed to choose some books from their collection. I went straight for the history of the church volumes. SCORE! Growing up we had the complete Journal of Discourses in our home and I would sit and, mustering all my brain power, try to understand what they were talking about. I knew I would go on a mission from as young as five years old. I loved seminary. I loved going to church. I was ALL in.

About 13 years ago I began to pray the same prayer every night. Nightly, after I'd prayed and offered my usual petitions, I'd unconsciously pray over and over, "Oh say, what is truth? Oh SAY, what is Truth? Oh SAY, what IS TRUTH?!!!". I would pray those words as though I had a rosary and each bead was the same prayer. It was an odd prayer for me because I wasn't even remotely searching for truth. I HAD the "truest truth" in the world - the church!  

About a year later our close friend shared a story of someone - a non-church authority kind of person, who had seen the Lord and had spoken with Him face to face. My mind was consumed by this information. Could a regular person really see God? I thought only church leadership was allowed to see God. I couldn't stop thinking about the Lord ALL day and ALL night. I prayed earnestly now - He seemed no longer a distant Being, but someone who might be interested in a nobody, like me. I would get up in the middle of the night, go into my living room, kneel, pray, and wait...fully believing He would appear. 

One night during this time - I had a dream. In the dream I was standing in the dark and I knew the Lord could hear me. I said aloud, "I want to see You. I want to see Your face." I felt a presence near me - I turned around and it was a very worldly woman who was one of the most anotomically beautiful women I had ever seen, and she was also deeply selfish. I was annoyed so I left and found myself in another dark area, "I want to see You!" I shouted. I felt a presence enter - I turned and it was the same woman, looking right at me. I was super annoyed now. She was ruining MY moment. I left and, for the third time, cried out, "I want to see Your face! I want to KNOW You!!!" I felt a presence and I turned around. Her again

I felt defeated. "Why can't I see you?!!" I cried in desperation. The woman disappeared and I heard a voice say, "You are too much in the world to approach Me at this time." As I stood there stupefied I asked, "When will I be able to?!!" Suddenly an open set of scriptures floated up in front of me and as I looked at the page, out floated the words, "Line upon line, precept upon precept."

Then I awoke.
"Love not the world, neither things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doth the will of God abideth forever." (1 John 2: 15-17)
Getting to know the Lord, as little as I know of Him, has taken a lot of time and a commitment to do His will and His alone. A little here, a little there. A concept taught - a concept understood. An opportunity given, an opportunity scorned. An experience of learning offered, an experience of wisdom gained. A teaching presented, a teaching rejected. And so it has gone, for me.

A few years ago I had a vivid dream. In the dream I was traveling on bus. I found myself in the sky watching the bus wind up a beautiful tall mountain made of granite, going around it like a spiral. 

As I watched the bus get higher, my body moved close to the mountain and there were rainbows floating in the air all around it. The rainbows were three dimensional, about a foot high and and six inches wide and they were everywhere. The rainbows were otherworldly - very dense and unbelievably vibrant. It felt like they could have been picked up and held. 

As I observed these rainbows I found myself inside at the back of the bus which had a glass roof and glass sides for travelers inside to be able to view the mountain. My head was looking straight up and because I was so in awe, I remember my mouth was shamelessly hanging wide open as I said, "Wowwwww". A close friend came and, observing my gaping mouth, had a big smile and said, "I bet this is the first time Ruth has ever seen a rainbow like that." I said, "It is!"

As we continued up the mountain I began to look around the bus which seemed more like a train car in the outlay. It was filled with people but definitely not crowded. I saw my friend's wife speaking to others on the bus. There came a broad shouldered Asian man, about my husband's build and he sat down by our group. He said that he couldn't help overhear our conversation about Christ and asked if he could please join us. He was wearing a red T-shirt that said, "pray.". My husband gently put his hand on the man's shoulder and told him we would love to have him join us. Then I woke up.

I have reflected on that dream from time to time. It was so beautiful. I wished it was longer.

One thing I have noticed is that most of us often feel uncomfortable when we pray. Maybe you feel uncomfortable when you pray. My whole journey to get to this point started with that awkward prayer that I repeated for nearly a year, "Oh say, what is truth?"  That was all I could muster for so long. 

If you, like me, have struggled to know what to say or how to really talk to the Lord and to Jesus, then this post is for you. 

What I have come to understand about prayer is that - I haven't fully understood its power. I believe Satanists, devils, demons, and foul spirits fully understand the power of prayer. But we Christians, in general, do not know the power of prayer which is the foundation of a true relationship with the Divine.

I have always been someone who talked to God out-loud and in my heart. I was often a lonely person, maybe that's why. I had a mission companion stop me one day when we were out riding bikes in the heart of Tokyo and she said, "Who are you always talking to?!" I didn't know my conversations with the Lord were loud enough to be heard. I don't hide what I'm thinking from the Lord, I figure He knows already and I'm just speaking truth so I can see its oft ugly face so I know what I'm dealing with. 

Years ago I promised to seek and do God's will. One particular time I had felt that I was doing God's will - things backfired on me in a way that impacted two people deeply. I was bewildered. I was SO sure this is what God had asked me to do. As I lay in bed, seething anger and resentment came to the surface of my heart. In my mind I said to God with great animosity, "I'll never speak to you again!" My anger was raw and deep. I cried with quiet deep breaths so as to not awaken my husband. As I lay there in a puddle of angry tears which had filled my ears as they trickled from the corner of my eyes - I felt the Father by my bedside. I'd never felt a distinct Presence before - but it was unmistakable. I stopped breathing and moving, staying very still so that nothing about that moment would change or alter. Then, with remorse at my quick temper and thoughtless words - I said in my heart, "Will you hold me?" Suddenly my husband, in a dead sleep, rolled over and wrapped both his arms around me.
"Tell God all that is in your heart, as one unloads one's heart, its pleasures and its pains, to a dear friend. Tell Him your troubles that He may comfort you; tell Him your longings that He may purify them; tell Him your dislikes that He may help you conquer them; tell Him your temptations that He may shield you from them; show Him the wounds of your soul that He may heal them; lay bare your indifference to good, your depraved taste for evil, your instability. 

"Tell Him how self-love makes you unjust to others, how vanity tempts you to be insincere, how pride hides you from yourself and from others. If you thus pour out all your weaknesses, needs, and troubles, there will be no lack of what to say. You will never exhaust the subject, for it is continually being renewed. 

"People who have no secrets from each other never want for subjects of conversation. They do not weigh their words for there is nothing to be held back. Neither do they seek for something to say. They talk out of the abundance of their heart. Without consideration, they simply say just what they think....Blessed are those who attain such familiar, unreserved communication with God."  -Francois Fenelon (1651-1715) 
We can experience the blessing of such communication with God if we strive to be honest in prayer. A.Z. Tozer said that, "...prayer will increase in power and reality as we repudiate all pretenses and learn to be utterly honest before God as well as before men."
"In our address to God, we like to speak of Him as we think we ought to speak, and there are times when our words far outrun our feelings. But it is best that we should be perfectly frank before Him. He will allow us to say anything we will, so long as it is to Himself. "I will say unto God my rock," exclaims the psalmist, "why hast thou forgotten me?" If he had said, "Lord, thou canst not forget. Thou has graven my name on the palms of thy hands," he would have spoken more worthily, but less truly.

"On one occasion Jeremiah failed to interpret God aright. He cried as if in anger, "O Lord, you deceived me, and I was deceived." These are terrible words to utter before Him who is changeless truth. But the prophet spoke as he felt, and the Lord not only pardoned him, but met him and blessed him there."
-David M'Intyre, The Hidden Life of Prayer
Tozer said, "If God and spiritual things bore you, admit it frankly. This advice will shock some squeamish saints, but it is altogether sound nevertheless. God loves the guileless soul even when in his ignorance he is actually guilty of rashness in prayer. The Lord can soon cure his ignorance, but for insincerity no cure is known." 

Well, that's all I have today. I am not perfect at prayer. But I try to speak the truth. Jordan Peterson said, "I'm going to pay attention to see what's going on here. And then I'm going to say what I think. And then I'm going to assume that whatever the outcome is - is the right outcome because it was based on something approximating the TRUTH."

Oh say, what is Truth? 

" shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32)



Nichole Nordeman

If you like the bracelets me and my family are wearing in the first photo, you can find them here. You can customize them to look and say a word or a sentence. Mine says, "His Will". My children chose words for theirs. Some of our bracelets said: Defender, Servant, Warrior, Guardian, Be Strong, Hope, Save, Unwearying, Grace.

I asked the kids to pray to know the words the Lord wants them to focus on for this next phase so we ordered new ones for Christmas. You could always ask the Lord to give you a word for the upcoming year or time of life. Also, I don't make money off those bracelets - I just think they are super cool.