Abiding with Eternal Fact
In The Great Divorce a repentant liberal tells an stuffy and impenitent Bishop that, if he will rethink his pretensions about religion, he will take him to meet “Eternal Fact, the Father of all other facts.” The cleric disdainfully turned down the offer, preferring to remain under the delusion that “God” and “fact” do not dwell on the same plane of objectivity. It is a strange deception indeed which constructs a grand array of “facts” and suspends them over a bottomless chasm, but that is what sinners do with facts. They encounter them; they label and categorize them; but they attempt to ground them in the ether of a wholly impracticable worldview.
That is how I was before I met “Eternal Fact.” My dealings with Truth were occasional and, from my point of view, impersonal. And it was this impersonal view of Truth which gnawed away at me; for impersonal conceptions of Truth eventually depersonalize everything – even the viewer. They may seem impressive to our eyes for a while, but just as an attempt at landscape painting may please us until we set it alongside a Constable or a Monet, so truth without “the Spirit of Truth” gradually begins to look like a paltry thing. Truth (capital ‘T’); the kind that “shall make you free” (Jn. 8:32), springs forth from the “I AM” (Jn. 8:58).
It is hard for me to overestimate the importance that the concept of personal truth has played in my life since I became a Christian. From the first I understood that my life was either a grateful acceptance of Truth and the claims of its Source upon me, or a denial of both it and of Him. So I began to read the Bible over and over. At every opportunity, whether at work or in a traffic jam, I would snatch a few verses. For several years I kept up an average of about ten chapters a day in my pocket King James Version, so that after a few years I found that I knew it better than many believers who had been Christians for twenty or thirty years. I could not understand their dilatory attitude toward the Word of God. I confess I still don’t.
After my dad left home when I was 13 my world turned upside-down. I sank into a depression which lasted until I was about 30. Although there were good times, for the most part I was very miserable, lonely, and introverted. On countless occasions I cried myself to sleep at night. The world was two-dimensional. I felt disconnected from everything. When I came to Christ aged 25, my depression, which had become a part of me by then, did not desert me. But I knew the Way, the Truth and the Life. I heard His voice (Jn. 18:37), and it assured me. Although it felt like I was in a dark tunnel underground, I now knew that if I stayed beside the Truth, which included taking my focus off of my feelings, that I was going up, and that one day I would break the surface. I finally “emerged” just prior to going to Seminary. It was Truth – sometimes hard truth, and the God of all Truth, that brought me through. The Truth as it is in Christ was an anchor in the midst of troubled times, my counselor within the gloom, and my hope of something better ahead. It is to Personal Truth that I swear allegiance, however wavering I might be. Not my truth, but God’s truth. Because God’s very essence is the source of Truth, naturally He requires that we, His creatures install that truth “in the innermost being” (Psa. 51:6).