A friend once told me of an incident near the end of a road trip when returning from Wyoming. He was the only one awake in the car, and he was driving. Somewhere out in the middle of America, in the dead of night, he had an encounter. He told me that as he topped a hill and began the descent, his headlights fell upon (in his words) “a 30-foot tall Grimace.” The resulting conversation went like this:
“You mean the big, purple, gumdrop-shaped guy on the old McDonald’s commercials?” I asked.
“Yes,” he replied.
“So there was a McDonald’s nearby?”
“What then, was it a statue?”
“No, it was Grimace.”
“I understand that, but what was it?”
“I know, you said that already. I’m asking you if it was a tourist attraction or something like—”
“No, it was Grimace…a live Grimace.”
(I didn’t know how to break the news to him that Grimace was not a living entity, not even on the Great Plains. I tried to be understanding.)
“You know that Grimace isn’t real, right?”
“Of course I do.”
“Look, I’m a little confused.”
“I was so tired, I was seeing things. Not only did I see Grimace standing on the side of the road, but there were a number of little baby Grimaces standing on the other side, waiting for me to pass by so they could cross safely. That’s what I saw, but nothing was really there. Later, when I thought about it, I realized just how exhausted I really was, what with seeing Grimace and all…”
We all have moments like that; we see things that aren’t even there. I’m not talking about seeing an exhaustion-created hallucination from a fast-food chain, but those times when we see an attitude, or intent, or a problem where none exist. More tragically, if we are not careful, we can begin to view truth in wrong and dangerous ways. Winston Churchill said, “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.” Truth stabilizes us, but it can disrupt us as well.
When we reject objective truth, that space will not remain unoccupied; we will fill it with something. Paul warns Timothy, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Left to our own devices and desires, we will reject truth, turn to messages that please us and wander from the only objective standard given to us by God.
During a crisis, when times are uncertain, days are long and weariness is common, the temptation is to walk away from the truth “because it does not work” for us. Before long, we may begin to see things in life that are not really there. If we dismiss the eternal truth, our minds and hearts will begin to fill in the gaps with whatever worldview is most convenient at the moment.
Notice the reason that Paul says that people reject the teaching of the truth: they “will not endure sound teaching” (v.3). They won’t be willing to bear the truth, so they must bear the outcome of dependence upon myths.
It’s dangerous to be so exhausted that you see a 30-foot tall Grimace that isn’t really there. It’s far more dangerous to refuse to adjust your life to God’s truth and reject the objective reality of the ages.
We will seek the good way of the truth of God and avoid rejecting his teaching. – Jeremiah 6:16 Thus says the LORD: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
We would not follow the leading of false teachings but would cling to the truth of God. – 2 Peter 2:2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.
We would train ourselves for the reality of godliness. – 1 Timothy 4:7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness.