Truth As We Know It

As the Psalmist wrote: “Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him[i].” And again like the Psalmist, I plead “O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places.[ii]“(emphasis added)

What is truth?

According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary Truth is defined as: Veracity; Purity from falsehood; Correct opinion; Fidelity; Constancy; Honesty; Virtue; Real fact of just principle; Real state of things[iii]

noah webster

Noah Webster

May I share a story that illustrates truth?

It was Christmas night 1776. While the Hessians were warm in their borrowed homes, Washington was orchestrating a bold plan to overtake Trenton, New Jersey. (This is a truth.) His troops, many wearing only rags for shoes (another truth) went forth in a horrific snowstorm transporting with them 18 field cannon, 350 tons of ammunition, draft horses and 2400 men across the icy Delaware River. Footprints of blood were left along the trail of those men whose feet were only wrapped. (another truth) The night was so frigid, the visibility so low that Hessians decided not to post any sentries for the night or dawn watch. This was the saving grace for the American army. As the storm swirled around them the Americans silently entered Trenton, New Jersey surprising the Hessians entirely. As the enemy tried to pull together their ranks they were quickly defeated. Over 900 Hessians were captured. This small battle was a pivotal point for the American Revolution. Most battles had been lost up to this point. Many were mere skirmishes. The Colonial (American) army was starving. The Americans desperately needed to win a battle for hope to burn on. Washington recognized this. His password for this battle was “Victory or Death.”

Crossing the Delaware

Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze, 1851

Benjamin Rush who had come to visit and cheer Washington noted in a meeting with Washington just two days previous on December 23, 1776, “While I was talking to him, I observed him to play with his pen and ink upon several small pieces of pater. One of them by accident fell upon the floor near my feet. I was struck with the inscription upon it. It was “Victory or Death.[iv]” “ How much Washington understood the truth of what the Americans needed, a battle won. How much he needed hope to burn on. He did not give up. He was bold and decisive.

What about us today? Do we believe in truth? Do we know what truth is? Do we live it? In 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen R Covey wrote: “(Truths) apply to individuals, to marriages, to families, to private and public organizations of every kind. When these truths are internalized into habits, they empower people to create a wide variety of practices to deal with different situations.[v]

Did we not see this in Washington’s day? Were not Washington and those who fought for the freedoms of our country empowered through truth? I would boldly proclaim, Yes! Truth set them free to follow the dictates of their own conscience! Our Founding Fathers sought truth. Do you? Do you seek for truth in all that you read, all that you speak, all of your associations? Are you a pillar of truth for all those who are seeking?

[i] Psalms 42:5 New American Standard Bible
[ii] Psalms 43:3 New American Standard Bible
[iv] Richard Ketchum, The Winter Soldiers: The Battles for Trenton and Princeton (New York: Holt Paperbacks, 1999), p.236.
[v] Stephen R Covery, The 7 Habits of Highly Effectivie People(New York: Free Press, 2004), p.35.


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