Thursday, December 07, 2017

"The Truth Fairy"

Daniel 8.12b NET

It hurled truth to the ground and enjoyed success.”

Jesus claimed, “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18.37-38). Pontius Pilate, with the passivity typified by weak leadership, washed his hands of Christ’s claim with the question, “What is truth?”

I’ve wondered the same thing. What is truth, really? I do not question the reality of Jesus or the reliability of the Scripture. In those truths I am secure. But what about lesser truths?

Daniel the prophet saw a vision of a goat with four horns on his head. The smallest horn grew to be the largest and “even magnified itself to be equal” with the Lord. One of the chief characteristics of this evil being was its complete disregard for truth in the pursuit of its personal advancement.

“It hurled truth to the ground and enjoyed success.”

When my son was 8 years old and lost a tooth. He carefully placed it in the “Tooth Fairy Pillow” my wife lovingly embroidered for occasions like this. When she went to his room about 10 p.m. to exchange money for molar, my wife was surprised to discover Robert was still awake. “Are you the tooth fairy Mom?” Mom was caught off guard and denied any relationship with the magical being. The job of slipping the tooth out and the money in was now left to me.

About 5:30 the next morning, I crept into his room with 50¢ and quietly removed the tooth from under my son’s pillow. With it, I found a handwritten note from Robert revealing his quest for truth...

“Dear Tooth Fairy,
Where do you live?
What do you believe in?
I want your autograph, please.
sign here ________________________
Please answer my questions. Thanks.

(Other side)
I charge 3 bucks!! (not kidding)”

I was dumbfounded. I forged my best authorized “Tooth Fairy” signature with the flourish warranted by such a famous “autograph” and slipped my answers back under the pillow with a quarter, two dimes, and a nickel…

[Where do you live?] “In the love between you and your family.”

[What do you believe in?] “Having fun with your family and laughing all the time.”

[Other side] “I pay only 50¢! Sorry!”

Did I lie? Did I “hurl truth to the ground”? Should I have come clean with my son about the Tooth Fairy? We teach him about Jesus Christ and claim the Bible is the living Word of God. I certainly did not wish clump Jesus with the likes of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy!

 I determined Robert was smarter than I first thought. I suspected Robert already knew the difference between truth and make-believe. Make-believe is lesser truth. It points to greater truth. Like all funny jokes, good magic tricks, popular movies, playful teasing, historic legends, most games, small exaggerations, artistic fantasy, good sermons, and even the parables of Jesus, make-believe can be an excellent conveyor of truth. If I tell my hostess that her very average dinner was scrumptious, am I a liar?  Or, have I exaggerated just a bit to convey the greater truth of gratitude for her hospitality? 

When a 3 year old snarls “ggrrrr” and claims to be a tiger, should I correct him? No, actually you're a little boy pretending to be a tiger, may be left unsaid. We both understand he is not a real tiger. It’s a game the child has invited me to play to convey a greater truth, namely his underlying quest for recognition. I should feel honored to participate. 

Robert already knew the Tooth Fairy wasn’t real. I even think he knew I knew he knew. But he enjoyed the game. So did his mother and I. If I chose to answer his questions with sterile accuracy, the game would be over. Soon enough Robert would tire of the Tooth Fairy game. It would end on his own schedule.  I was unwilling to push him to grow up too fast. The Tooth Fairy ritual helped to foster the “truth” of cherished family values... sharing joy, laughter, anticipation, and fun. We kept the “Tooth Fairy” magic going and extended this part of Robert’s childhood for about another year, perhaps not surprisingly, precisely as long as it took for him to lose his ‘baby teeth.’ 

Lesser truths eventually disappear. We outgrow or move past the story, but hopefully retain the meaning. We learn to trust the greater truth contained in the lesser one. Jesus is the Truth above all other truths. I hoped Robert would fully accept the claims of Jesus with certainty when all lesser truths naturally fell away. We will celebrate Roberts 19th birthday in two days. He has grown up to be an amazing young man and a dedicated follower of Jesus. The tooth fairy myth did not harm his relationship with Christ. 

Robert’s mother, my loving wife, died of Luekemia, just over two years ago. His “Tooth Fairy Pillow” reminds Robert of his mothers amazing love. The lesser truth is symbolic of and leads us to the greater one. Robert and his sister and I are still quite fond of the Tooth Fairy legend, and someday we will slip money under the pillows of their children. But our faith rests with Him who is the Truth above all truths and who proclaimed for all people  and for all times: 

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”
“I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.”
John 14.6; Hebrews 13.5

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