Here is the story. This is exactly how it happened.
Or is it?
One of the most unique attributes of the human mind is the power of perception. Two people, four, or more, at the same place, at the same time, tell two, four, or more, differing stories about the same event.
I've referred to "the time someone pointed a gun at me" before.. Here is how it happened:
Wages had been withheld - wages needed if the rent was to be paid on time. Pick-up jobs can be like that. A quick painting job; two or three days of heavy labor; filling in as an electrician's apprentice - on the job training a true test of intellect.
Traditionally, and rightfully so, these jobs are paid in full upon completion. During the very early 70s, another period of deep recession, pick-up jobs, not unemployment, carried you through layoffs and shortened work hours.
This was the situation for Danny and a friend. Except this time, instead of a paycheck, they received a promise, an empty promise, as it turned out. But we didn't learn that until after our visit to the Westminster, Colorado, police department.
Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. Exhausting all other avenues, we foolishly pursued the promise, presenting ourselves early one winter evening at the front door of the one who had paid with the promise. The one who had made the promise reached into the coat closet, in full view of the front door, and pulled out a gun. I didn't know then if it was a rifle or a shotgun, I didn't know enough to know the difference. These many years later, the memory image is blurred and it scarcely makes a difference. My reaction today would be the same as it was that night. Run!
Back-pedaling off the porch, we jumped into our Volkswagon hatchback and took off for the nearest police station, where we reported the event.
Officers gave each of us pen and paper directed us to write out exactly what had happened.
When the written narratives were compared, we were told, the details described in each, differed greatly. Each of us, it seems, told a different story.
I was mystified. There was no reason for any one of us to tell a different story. We were the ones who had been wronged and we bristled with righteous indignation. Not only had a needful promise been broken, someone had pointed a presumably loaded weapon at us and chased us away.
Nearly 40 years later, I have to wonder at the story told by the one who broke promises and pulled weapons.
From his perspective, it's dark, it's cold, everyone should be in for the night, and the doorbell rings. Opening the door with trepidation, he sees the faces of three young men, two of whom are familiar to him, and one young woman, with fire in her eyes.
They want an empty promise fulfilled, but empty is all he has.
I probably would have gone for a gun myself, or at the very least, the telephone, with which to call the police.
Perspective. It seems to muddle the truth.
Here is what happened.
This is what I saw.
Even if you and I are standing side-by-side, reading from the same page of the same book, singing the same song, or consuming identical "TV dinners," our personal perspective makes it inevitable: our stories will be different. But they will be true.
This is the conundrum of humanity. This is what makes us so very vulnerable to deception, denial and doubt. And this is what makes absolute truth absolutely imperative.
Jesus, who sees the heart of every man, speaks to the heart of each man. The truth is all he ever told and in each encounter he spoke undeniable truth. He sends the woman caught in adultery on her way with the admonition to "go and sin no more." He doesn't pretend that there was no sin to turn away from. He asks the paralytic man "do you want to be well" because he knows some of us revel in our infirmities and have no desire to be whole. The Samaritan woman at the well shows more courage than I ever could, as she admits to her countrymen, "he told me everything I ever did." Personally, I don't want my "everything I ever did" ever revealed.
Throughout Scripture, Jesus, who sees the heart of every man, speaks to the heart of every man. He is still speaking absolute truth to each one, only the narrative is different, because each of us are different. Different perspectives, different experiences, different dreams. Different deceptions, different denials, different doubts.
The absolute truth here is -- we each need the same Savior.
Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. We enjoyed an old-fashioned rock concert Sunday afternoon, relishing the replays of the old bands on our new, circa 1970, Sony turntable. As the old songs blared out of powerful speakers, we were swept back 40 years and discovered that, even 40 years ago, through the anti-war rhetoric, the idealistic dreams of love, the rebel songs of our youth, that same Savior was speaking that same absolute truth, to any who had ears to hear.
"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." Romans 1:20 (NIV)
I don't have all the answers, but I know, and love, the One who does. Let's walk in his love, and discover him together.