The word truth is one of those few words in the English language whose various definitions are self-contradictory. This is especially bewildering when you consider that the hope for the word truth is to identify correctness, and yet its very definition is problematic. Truth can be defined as, “That which is in accordance with fact or reality.” However, another definition is, “Facts or beliefs that are accepted as true.” With such opposing definitions of even the word truth, is it any wonder that we likewise have similar difficulty identifying it in our world.
The truth about truth is, that it is relative, could it be any other way? The great Jesus said that truth comes to us precept upon precept and that we cannot bear all things now, likening us to little children. For most of my life, I became agitated when people proclaimed that a particular concept (that I believed to be false) was true for them. I believed that there was such a thing as absolute truth and anything falling short of that mark was damningly false. While I still believe there is such thing as absolute truth, I now understand that there is also such thing as personal truth. How can both be true?
Each of us at this very moment, have the greatest amount of truth we are able to bear and until we prepare the vessel for greater truth and greater light, we will always remain where we are. To embrace absolute truth about the universe, God and least of all ourselves is impossible in our lowly third dimension state. Therefore, the things we feel and say are true are in reality only spiritual indicators of truth, not the actual true state of things. Most of the truths in this world are but the needles of a compass, providing us a path and a direction for our thoughts which will eventually lead to absolute truth (if we keep sailing). A compass shows us where north is but the needle itself is not north. How vastly different is the magnetized needle of a compass than the frozen ice of the North Pole. So likewise are many of the truths we hold dear and very sadly, bitterly defend in this dark world. In this analogy, the North Pole is the absolute truth and all of our belief compasses point toward it in wildly varying degrees.
As every navigator knows, a compass doesn’t point to true north. It points to magnetic north, which is the strongest area of the magnetic field that surrounds the earth. This strong area just happens to be northward, but it could in theory be anywhere on the planet and at varying times throughout our world’s history it has moved multiple times. It didn’t take long for ancient seamen to figure out that the new invention called a compass didn’t point to true north. This was discovered when they repeatedly missed their destinations by many miles and they learned how to adjust their daily bearings using simple addition and subtraction depending on where they were in the world. This magnetic variation complicates things for both the navigator and the seeker of truth. Our personal truth compasses roughly point us in the general direction of absolute truth, but like sailors, we must make continual adjustments to our direction if we are to arrive at our destination. The question is, how much correction is needed and in what direction do we make it, east or west?
Sometime during the first or second century, formal Degrees of Difference charts were initiated that showed a sailor how many degrees to add or subtract from their compass readings depending on their longitude and latitude. Understandably, these first charts were crude and rife with error but as global exploration increased, so did the accuracy of the charts. Degrees of Difference charts were the equivalent of masters and gurus pointing the way for the novice; breadcrumbs and wisdom from those who had gone before for others to follow. We likewise have similar Degrees of Difference charts to help us navigate truth but like the crude first century charts, not all advice we receive is accurate—well intended no doubt, but wrong information can be dangerously and damningly false. During our lives, we have all navigated with erroneous charts and ended up somewhere we never intended to go. If this has happened to you, know that the chart maker was not out to hurt or intentionally deceive you. Chances are, they received the chart from someone else and never really tested its accuracy and just passed it on to you. You see, very few people actually test the truths they learn. To them, the chart looks correct and they have no real-world experience to say otherwise so they hold on to the chart because it looks pretty or just because they received it from a love one. The fact is, the handing down of erroneous Degrees of Difference charts has been happening for many millennia, each generation, passing down the same chart with little or no modification to their children. This was something I never wanted to do and have spent my life testing the charts I had been given and completely throwing away some and starting new ones.
As one sails around the globe or searches for truth, you encounter places where the compass is not reliable and simply will not point northwards. This is due to magnetic disturbances like being near large. Sometimes we get to these dark places from following an erroneous chart and other times from exploring on our own without a guide; a highly suggested activity. When you find yourself here, don’t panic. There is always a way out and the easiest way is to simply go back the way you came until you’re certain your truth compass is working again and make a mental note of the dead end you discovered.
The search for truth can be daunting and despairing without a reasonably good chart and an experienced navigator. This is why God provided guides throughout the world’s history. But if you’re like me, the wild open sea appeals to you and you find excitement and even satisfaction in discovering where truth isn’t. For both the adventurer and the pilgrim, there is a pathway through the sea of thought that leads to absolute truth. Off the coast of Florida there is an imaginary line called the Agonic Line, which is the only place on earth where a compass will point directly north, with no variation. In this place, magnetic north and south are in perfect alignment. Likewise, there is a place where our truth compasses will perfectly point the way to absolute truth but finding such a location is not easy. The Agonic Line is less than twenty miles wide; only twenty miles out of 24,901 miles around the earth. To put this in perspective, this truth line is eight ten-thousandths of a percent of the earth’s surface. Jesus wasn’t exaggerating when he said, “Straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”