Only the gracious nature of God turns truth --
from that which at all costs we must avoid --
into that which at all costs we must accept.
I was walking in the Garden of God in the cool of the evening on one of those occasional visits which the Lord grants. I said to Him, "You know what You need to do? You need to offer a bargain to the world that it cannot refuse. People are always looking for a bargain. Can you come up with a bargain that no one can refuse?"
"Sure", He said, "You brag about Me and I'll brag about you."
"Wow!" I thought, somewhat surprised at the quick answer, "Who could brag about me better than God? That really is a bargain that no one could refuse!"
A small thought raised up from the dark recesses of my mind, however, "Why would God want us to brag about Him? If my neighbor asked me to brag about him, I would think he had an ego problem." So I asked God, "Well, what do You want us to say about You?"
God must have noticed the concern on my face and replied, "Don't fudge the truth. Just tell the truth. That's all. You don't have to say anything good about Me that is not true."
One does not want to let bragging get out of hand -- but that seemed fair. So we agreed, and I went my way.
What a strange bargain! But I had asked for it, so I thought about what to say. How was I going to brag about Him? The agreed terms were -- just tell the truth. So I thought of the true things about God that I could brag about to other people.
Not being a naturally outgoing type, I had to push to get some momentum rolling. "Well, let's start with something simple and obvious," I thought. "I could say that God is the one who created me and everything else that is. That's a pretty neat thing to say about someone."
The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a pretty astounding thing to say about someone. "And then I could tell about what marvelous intricacy He has built into the creation, how incredibly finely tuned it is to make it operate."
Ideas began to line up at the door waiting to be expressed. Bragging about God was taking on a new light for me, and tears came to my eyes. "And then I could tell about, when we had made a horrible carnage of His creation, how He was willing to do anything at all to make it right again, at His own expense."
"This is easy," I thought. "Who needs to brag? Just tell the truth. I wonder how He is doing?"
And suddenly a deep fear struck my heart. "What is He saying about me?! What is there to say? I had gotten good grades in school. I have a doctoral degree. I am an Episcopal priest. Is that what He is telling people about me?" Somehow -- that did not seem to cut it.
My thoughts raced. "I had been able to keep my public image fairly untarnished...." Well, for the most part.... At least in my opinion....
What would He say about me? We had agreed to tell the truth." The thought panicked me. "What is there to say? Would He tell about all the stupid, small, mean spirited things I did and thought? Would He tell everyone about all the hidden resentments and lusts that I had kept submerged? Would He tell them that I was trying to advise Him in His own Garden how to run the world? Would He tell everyone that I thought He had an ego problem?" I desperately had to find out what He was saying about me. But I could not bear to ask Him.
As I went out the door of my house, my neighbor called out to me. "What is going on?" he said, with a somewhat wide-eyed look.
"I don't know," I replied. "What is going on?"
"It seems that someone new came to town and was inquiring about you. When he asked the Lord about you, the Lord replied, 'That is My son. I am wonderfully glad that I created him. He is very special to Me.' He went on and on like that. I was there," said my neighbor. "God said it with such deep...." He could not finish his sentence because tears came to his eyes. He gave me a hug. I was unable to speak, and we parted.
The next time I met God in the Garden, He said, "I understand you are out there bragging about Me."
"Well, I guess so, Lord," I said. "But it doesn't seem like bragging. Just telling the truth."
"Me, too," He said.
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