Things aren’t always as they seem.
Take for instance the family gathering at my aunt’s house several years ago. For some reason, the main dish was deli sandwiches accompanied by various types of potato chips and Jell-o salads. Next to one of these salads was a tasty-looking bowl of what I could have sworn was vanilla pudding. It was practically oozing with vanilla-flavored goodness. So naturally, I scooped myself a sizeable dollop, prepared a heaping spoonful, and delivered it to my open mouth as my taste buds were giddy with anticipation… only to discover that—BLECK!!! SICK NASTY! GAG ME!!!—it was actually mayonnaise. But did I projectile spit it across the room? Did I vomit it through my nose? No. Quietly, with dignity, I swallowed it. And proceeded to have a stomach ache for the rest of the day. Ewwww. 😦
Or then there was the time I brought a roast beef sandwich for lunch. I must first preface this by saying that I am a peanut butter and jelly sort of gal. Every day for my freshman year of high school, I ate the same exact lunch: PB&J (made with natural peanut butter), an apple (to be dipped in natural peanut butter), carrot sticks (don’t worry; I didn’t dip them in peanut butter), and some sort of salty snack like pretzels or tortilla chips (occasionally dipped in peanut butter. Just kidding.) Sometimes I would branch out and bring a peanut butter and honey sandwich instead of jelly, but for the most part I stuck to my same, goober-rich diet. (George Washington Carver would be proud). But then one day, I decided to change things up, and I brought a roast beef sandwich with a slice of provolone cheese. Yum. However, from the moment I bit into my sandwich, I knew something was awry; however, I couldn’t put my finger on it. So, of course, I continued eating, even though the texture of the meat seemed tougher and chewier than normal. Upon reaching the halfway mark, I couldn’t stand it any longer, so I opened up my sandwich to see what was wrong. Instantly, I saw the culprit: Wax paper. Apparently, the cheese had been packaged with wax paper to separate the slices. And apparently, a piece of that wax paper made it onto my sandwich—and into my stomach—without me realizing it. Let’s just say that I’m still keeping the peanut butter company in business….
I guess I learned the hard way that appearances can be deceiving. But as Nietzsche once noted, whatever doesn’t kill you makes you (and your stomach) stronger. Luckily, these examples, though exceedingly unpleasant at the time, had rather short-lived effects. Unfortunately, however, this isn’t always the case.
You see, sometimes we humans fail to recognize lies for what they are. We fail to notice the figurative open mayonnaise jars and protruding corners of wax paper, and fall into traps without even realizing it. And once we do realize it, it’s usually too late.
Yes, appearances can be deceiving. And oftentimes, the source of this deception is Satan himself. It’s no coincidence that the Bible calls him the “Father of Lies.” So what are these lies? And how does he deceive us? Well, the specific lies depend on the person, but the end goal is always the same: to take us away from the Truth, i.e. Jesus. For me, these lies have come in many shapes and sizes, but they tend to follow the same pattern. “You’re not good enough; you’ll never be good enough.” “Nobody likes you.” “All you do is annoy people.” “You’re just a worthless failure.” The list goes on and on and on. Maybe your lies have to do with your athletic ability or perceived lack thereof; maybe they pertain to your weight and body type. The possibilities are endless; the variations completely unique. But they all have one thing in common: THEY ARE LIES.
The problem is, though, that if you listen to lies long enough, they start to sound like the truth. Like, if I had eaten enough mayonnaise or wax-paper sandwiches, they might have eventually tasted fine. But would they ever become vanilla pudding and normal roast beef? No! And would they have ever been good for my body? No! In the same way, no matter how many lies we tell ourselves, or how many times we repeat the same lies, they still remain unchangingly, without variation, infinitely and for all eternity LIES.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not believe lies. But how do I overcome them? And more importantly, how do I find the truth?
The answer is simple. The answer is Jesus.
Yes, I know it sounds cliché, like just another rote Sunday school answer, but hear me out. After years of battling the lies bombarding my own mind, I have found that victory lies in Jesus. He Himself says that He is “the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life” (John 14:6). Only by getting close to Him can we banish the lies far from us. He can help you recognize the lies, and He can help you replace them with the truth. He can set you free. All you have to do is ask. Trust me; you won’t regret it. I promise.
Having said all that, I’m hungry. Could you pass me the vanilla pudding please? 😉