“Carl, you are obviously going through a midlife crisis right now.” The counselor gave the 52 year old man sitting slumped in the leather chair across from him on the other side of his solid oak desk a half smile and rose to lead him to the door, asking one more question.
“When was the last time you purchased a new set of truths?”
He had spent the last two hours listening to the man spill out all his troubles and even as an experienced counselor, the constant drip drip of problem after problem was beginning to wear on his patience. This idea was the last spark he could calmly muster before practically kicking Carl out of his office.
Carl stood outside the counsellor’s office dejectedly, absently patting the set of truths slung around his waist. It had been several months since his last exchange, and his were definitely outdated. But the idea of ditching yet another set and upgrading to one of the many ‘new and improved’ truths out there was depressing. He’d just gotten accustomed to his Deistic Modernism (With a Dash of Optimistic Outlook)®. Of course, his wife had been urging him to move to the Atheistic Postmodernism - Cynical® product line. Carl blamed her truths for not wanting kids, since she couldn’t see the point of life anymore.
Right then, Carl’s Dash of Optimistic Outlook® kicked in, and he decided that he would switch with the next person that offered. Things would work out in the end.
“Thank you for your time sir, I’m sure things will turn out alright in the end.” Carl managed to tell the counselor before the door was decidedly shut almost in his face.
“I really don’t want to change my belief system again. Why does truth have to always be changing? Why can’t we find the truth, truth that is constant and never changing? What a different world we would live in if everyone knew, that they knew, that something was so?” These questions and others swirled around in Carl’s troubled mind as he walked to his car.
The next day, Carl rose bright and early. It was the weekend, and not having to work, he decided he would swing by the Bizarre Truth Bazaar and - maybe - pick up a new set of truths. His wife was enthusiastic about the idea, in her own cynical postmodernist way, but she was going shopping leaving Carl to go by himself.
By the time he’d arrived at the Bazaar, he’d practically talked himself out of buying anything. What was wrong with his current truths? He liked his Dash of Optimistic Outlook®, and even if his truths weren’t perfect, well, neither was anyone else’s. In fact, Carl mused gloomily, who could say that a truth he’d buy here would be better? Of course it couldn’t be. The Bazaar didn’t even advertise any of their products as ‘better’, because no truth was good, there certainly couldn’t be any better ones. Beliefs were advertised as different, unique, special - but since every truth was different, unique, and special, really none of them were.
Carl wanted . . . he didn’t know what he wanted. His Deistic Modernism (With a Dash of Optimistic Outlook)® didn’t allow him to know what he wanted. But he didn’t feel right. So, with a sigh, Carl got out of his car, without much idea of what he wanted to buy or whether he wanted to buy anything, but simply . . . searching. With such variety at the Bizarre Truth Bazaar, he had to find something.
As Carl walked around the open air Bazaar, he saw mirrors of himself on every passing face. At first it was only one or two people. They had that look, that air about them, that unspoken plead in their downcast eyes, they too, were searching, just like him. They knew, deep down inside, there had to be something else, something more, some measure of meaning. But where?
The further into the crowd Carl wandered, the more he recognized the searching spirit etched on each insecure individual’s countenance. Even those calling out the different, unique, and special truths, hoping to lure in a customer, bore it. Of course there were some who hid the air better than others. But the longer Carl secretly scrutinized each human being, the better he got at detecting that look of longing.
“I’m not alone.” He realized. “Even if they don’t see it in themselves now, all of us are searching for something. We all need truth. And not truth that we purchase, or trade, or use until it falls off our belts, but truth that is constant, never changing, eternal. We all need an anchor, something we can cling to when life gets tough.”
Carl stopped walking, stunned by his discovery. Now he walked the other way. The answer would not be at the Bazaar. That was only a substitute.
“If we all instinctively search for truth, surly that must mean there is real truth to be found. But where? How? When?”
Unfortunately, Carl realized a few blocks later that he had no idea where he could find anything like ‘real truth’. Where would you even buy it? A store wouldn’t sell it.
Passing a park, Carl pulled over and getting out of his car, meandered over to a nearby bench. He slumped down in it, head in his hands. Maybe he was going crazy. Permanent truth? That was nuts. And besides, who could make permanent truth? Maybe he was just searching for a nonexistent product line.
“Hey, you all right there, buddy?” A kind voice asked.
Carl looked up and saw a middle-aged man standing in front of him. He looked average in every way - average length hair, average face, average clothes. The only thing different about him at all was that he wasn’t wearing any truths. Not on his belt, not around his neck, not even around his back like some of the older models. Carl gaped at him. No truth? How awful!
The man was looking more concerned. “You should probably talk right now, or I’m going to call am ambulance or something. You okay?”
“Yes,” Carl replied, then frowned. “No, I’m not okay. I think my entire life has been a lie.”
“Wow!” The stranger, took a step back and ran his average left hand through his average hair. “How did you begin to figure that?”
“It’s like this--” Carl began to explain, then stopped. It hit him, the guy not only didn’t have any truths, but he was also missing that subtile searching expression.
“Yes?” The guy prompted. Dropping down on the bench beside Carl he patted him encouragingly on the back.
“How come you aren’t looking for real truth, like everyone else?” Carl finally blurted the weighing question, then apologized. “That was not for me to ask, you’re just trying to help. Sorry, I guess I’ll head home...”
To Carl’s surprise and relief, the average joe only laughed.
“No, stay my friend. Maybe I can help.”
Carl cautiously met the man’s eyes, but he looked dead serious. “Help? What do you mean?”
“I mean, I’ve gone through exactly what I think you’re going through right now.” The man dropped his gaze to his hands. “I was living alone, got pretty depressed. I can’t even remember what truths I had at the time. I thought . . . that there had to be something else, that there had to be something more to life.”
Carl felt excitement growing in his chest. Yes! Yes this was exactly what he was feeling. “So, what did you do?” He asked impatiently.
The man smiled. “I didn’t do anything. Someone gave me one of these.” Reaching into his backpack, the man pulled out a small black book. “The reason I don’t have to look for real truth anymore is because I found it. And it’s not something you wear, and it never changes. Truth, the real truth, comes from God, who is Truth, and He wrote it in His word for everyone to see. Everyone has always sought truth - from the very beginning. We were made to serve God, we were made knowing, but then the first man sinned. As a result, we’re all born lost - sinners, alienated from God, who is Truth. But God sent His Son into the world, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins, so we wouldn’t have to be separated from God anymore. So we could know the Truth, and the Truth could set us free. ” The man looked up, meeting Carl’s eyes. “You don’t need to search for truth anymore. It’s right here.” And with that, the man handed him the book.
Carl swallowed heavily, looking down at the Real Truth in his hands. It didn’t look like anything special. With a questioning glance, he asked, “How does it work?”
The man laughed. “Here.” Reaching over, the man opened the book a little more than midway through, where the chapter proudly declared ‘The Gospel According To John.’ “This is where I started. Read it. Learn the Truth. And if God opens your eyes, then these chains” - the man patted the Truths around Carl’s waist - “will be sundered.”
It was starting to make sense to Carl. At least a little. If this man really, truly had real Truth, then naturally the “truths” hanging around Carl’s waist were chains. They represented the unfilled longing buried deep in his innermost being to have real, lasting truth. But they were the substitute, the nasty, hungry, even life-sucking counterfeit product of the world. Not real Truth from God.
Carl had heard enough to know that he needed to do more research. Certainly he would start reading where the stranger had shown him. Everything looked and sounded well and good so far, but if what he just connected about the whole counterfeit-truth-of-the-world thing was accurate then this whole thing about God could be just another substitute. In which case Carl had no idea what he would do, or where he would turn.
“Thank you for your time, sir. I will carefully read and consider what you have shared with me.” Carl said, rising for the first time in a long time, purposefully to his feet. The average joe also stood with a spring in his step and the two shook hands.
“I will be praying for you, my friend.” He said with sincerity in his voice. “There is a verse in Proverbs which says, “Buy truth, and do not sell it, get wisdom and instruction and understanding.” This does not mean literally ‘buy truth’ as the Truth of God is a free gift. That is a twisted lie of the world taken even from the holy word of God. It is from this deception fake truth was born, the truth that has to be purchased and sold again, replaced, upgraded, and exchanged. But once you figuratively ‘purchase’ God’s Truth, by accept His Son as your Lord and Savior, it can not be taken from you. You cannot sell it, only share it, as it is mean’t to be imparted to every person in the world. The second part of this verse tells us that when we receive this Truth we will also gain wisdom, instruction, and understanding. These come in the form of the Holy Spirit, who will live in the heart of every believer. May God truly reveal to you His Truth, the truth that is real and lasting, the truth of Himself, His Son, and His great love for you.”
With that he turned and strode away leaving Carl to sit once more, this time reverently holding the guide to Truth in his shaking hands. It was up to him now. Was he ready to buy his Truth?