Your one big truth and the wisdom of Puddleglum
What is the most important lesson you have learned in life?
Your answer to this question defines your One Big Truth. Your One Big Truth is the truth you cling to when all is lost. It’s the backbone that helps you stand and the keel that keeps you on course. It’s the spark in your imagination, the drive in your engine, and the peace in your sleep.
Do you have a One Big Truth?
Perhaps you’ve never thought about this before. Then consider Puddleglum the Marsh-wiggle. Puddleglum is one of my favorite characters from the Chronicles of Narnia. He is grim, gloomy, and famously pessimistic: “There’s one good thing about being trapped down here – it’ll save funeral expenses.” But he’s a good wiggle in a storm. If you’ve read The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis, you will know what I’m talking about.
Near the end of the story, Puddleglum and his friends Jill and Eustace find themselves trapped in the dark world of Underland. Using incense and lies, an evil enchantress tries to convince them that the world they’re looking for does not exist. Narnia is nothing but a make-believe world and Aslan a foolish dream. Jill and Eustace are bewitched but Puddleglum breaks the spell with a bold declaration:
Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up all those things… Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one… That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.
Puddleglum’s One Big Truth was that Aslan and Narnia were more real than the world he could see with his eyes. Acting on his conviction, Puddleglum refuted the witch’s lies, stomped on her fire, and saved the day.
As Puddleglum so brilliantly shows us, your One Big Truth is an undimmable light in a dark world. It’s an unbreakable bridge between where you are and where you are going. If Puddleglum had not been so sure of his One Big Truth, then all would’ve been lost. It is unlikely that he and his friends would have escaped the realm of Underland.
So what is your One Big Truth? What is your central belief? In my travels I have encountered several beliefs that people have adopted as their Big Truths. Here are four:
– obedience – the most important thing is to obey God no matter what; He demands it
– attitude – the most important thing is to make a good effort; God knows our hearts
– sacrifice – the most important thing is give God our best; He has already given us so much
– fruit – the most important thing is to bear much fruit proving ourselves to be His disciples
I suppose these are fine but they are not my One Big Truth. The difficulty I have with these is that all of them rely on me – my obedience, my attitude, my sacrifice, and my fruit-bearing – and I just don’t have that much faith in me. Like Puddleglum, my faith is in another. My backbone comes from Someone else.
What do you want to pass on to your kids?
Lately I’ve been asking myself, what is the one supreme lesson that I want my kids to learn from me? In other words, what is my One Big Truth? I’ll give you my answer in a minute but before I do, why don’t you pause and ask yourself that question. What is the single greatest insight that you would impart to those who come after you?
Have you got something?
Okay, here’s my One Big Truth: God loves us with an unfailing love. This is simply mind-blowing to me. Every form of love that you and I will experience in this world is failing love – it breaks, it wounds, it disappoints, and eventually it dies. I don’t mean to sound jaded – I’m not – but human love is inherently brittle. We were not designed to live off it.
But God’s love never, ever fails. Not ever! What does that mean? Jeremiah said His is an everlasting love (Jer 31:3). It doesn’t wear out or die. Paul said His love surpasses knowing (Eph 3:19). Your mind simply cannot grasp the extravagant magnitude of His love for you. Paul also said His love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. This is the honest-to-God truth. God doesn’t love you with human love. He loves you with an unconditional and unfailing love (1 Cor 13:7). I guarantee you that you’ve never seen its like anywhere else!
God will never make you jump through hoops to earn His love. He won’t love you any more if you succeed and He won’t love you any less if you fail. If you lead millions to Christ or none at all He’ll love you just the same. He loved you into existence and He loved you while you were dead in sin (Rm 5:8). His love for you is unaffected by your obedience, your attitude, your sacrifices and your fruit. He loves you because He is love. But as awesome as God’s love is, it will have no effect on you unless you know it. It is knowing and being convinced about the truth that sets you free.
Knowing the Father’s love
Think of the Prodigal Son. His father loved him the same at the beginning of the story as at the end. His love was without shadow or qualification. But the Prodigal didn’t know his father’s love until he was embraced. I am sure the father wanted to hug his son every day but the son wasn’t interested. In fact, the son wished his father was dead so he could get his hands on the old man’s money. Later he returned home because he thought he could earn favor by serving. Happily, he learned that the Father’s love is not for sale.
It was the same with the older brother. He didn’t know his father’s love. His one big truth was based on his obedience: “All these years I have been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.” If the younger brother was a rebel, then the older brother was a religious man. The father loved both of his sons but neither knew it.
Jesus once said to the Pharisees, “I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts” (Joh 5:42). Those who preach religious duty and obligation are unacquainted with the unfailing love of God. This is why they portray His love as brittle and conditional – they’re preaching what they know. If you listen to the lies of religion, then you will never know the unfailing and unconditional love of God. Religion cannot give you what religion does not have.
I hope that my kids turn out to be nothing like the Prodigal and his brother. But if they were to stray and end up in the pig pen, or worse, a works-based church(!), the one thing I hope they would remember above all else is that God loves them with an unfailing love. Religion would tell them that God is standing with crossed arms, but Grace declares His arms are always open. Religion says God is angry and maybe hates you, but Grace proclaims He is always in a good mood and His favor is on you. Religion says you need to get yourself sorted out and cleaned up before you can come home, but Grace shouts, “Come as you are!”
I can’t prepare my children for every possible lie and snare that this world might throw at them. Who knows what evil enchantress lies waiting around the corner? But if they know the unfailing love of their heavenly Father – if they know that Almighty God is for them – it won’t matter who comes against them.
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I think for many people at this time candy is the one big truth.
Amen and amen…well said Paul and I hold this truth for myself and my children as well.
Thank you, Paul. My son, Benjamin, is right in the next room sitting and watching a good-night cartoon. I suppose you asked us, parents, the most important question regarding our children. We are going HOME some day and they are staying on their own. Or not really… I remember one night, just before my son went to sleep … we were praying together. And I told him, that he must always remember, that God loves him and will never ever cease to love him. Even if he does something wrong, God is loving him more than his daddy or mummy. Thank I asked him: “Do you know it, Benjamin? Do you know that God always loves you?” I was shocked by his answer. “Yes, Dad, I know. But not everybody knows.”
My son is the dearest creature to me, except my wife. If my love towards him is so big, how does Gods love towards him look like? Unimaginable! Yes, you are so right, Paul. If something, I want my children to know, that God will never fail in loving them and that they hove nothing to do to deserve it. Just accept it, rest in it and feed on it.
Martin. I am sitting in my study in my cottage in the north east of Scotland. Your son’s response to God’s love has brought tears to my eyes. What a truly profound statement!
Love the story of Puddleglum! Probably my favorite moment in the Narnia series…when everything else becomes shadow, my one and only reality becomes Aslan 🙂 Great post!
Oh boy Paul. This post has really got to me. I struggle with knowing that God loves me ‘whatever’. I need to meditate on that and renew my mind about His unfailing love.
I thank the Lord Jesus for your post. You really represent Him really, really well. I share your post with my two children (son) and they got it!!! I asked them what the article was all about. And right on the nail, my oldest said that its all about the one big truth and that one big truth is that God loves Him no matter what….I was very blessed and happy to hear it.
For me this a great compliment to your writing, even children understood what you were trying to convey.
The Lord Jesus bless you more and more and more 🙂
I am super-encouraged by your comment! I wholeheartedly believe the good news is simple enough for young minds to grasp and I’m glad my writing also passes that test. How old are your sons?
Thanks for writing.
My first born, Ezra is 13 years old and my second son, Gabby 11 years old. By the way, my eight year old son, Sam understood the One Big Truth too!
This One Big Truth written before I continue: He never lets go.
Having read to the end and encountered the NT prodigal, I’m reminded of the OT prodigal and the picture of the Father given to David. 2 Sam 14:14
This was something I had said to my husband just last week only I didn’t put it as you do. We were talking about our (unborn but soon will be!) children and I said that if nothing else I want them to know that mommy and daddy love them no matter what and that they have a Greater Daddy who loves them even more whose love will never fail them no matter what.
shared this in one of my blog posts………..
May I just say that I am JEALOUS of your writing!!?? Can I get away with saying it’s a “godly jealousy”…. this is SO MY HEART!!! Thank you for putting it into beautiful words! Wonderful.
Thanks for the comment Chris.
The best sermon I ever came across – I want this preached at my funeral.
Thank you so much for putting it into words. I’ve always known this truth, but I still need the reassurance.
Wow – thanks Dominique. No one has ever said that about my writing before. Yes, we need frequent reminders of how much God loves us. We will spend eternity discovering the full import of His love for us.
You’re very welcome. Glad you were encouraged.
Love this – i think i will repost on my blog Paul (with link back to you 😉 ) I HAVE BEEN SO IMPACTED by all your posts and book recommendations. As a missionary to Asia the last 13 years and being in ministry over 20+ I am nly now really starting to ‘get it’ God is love. Haha. That sounds absurd, that all my theological correctness and mixing of revivalism and old covenant and new spun me in many years in a dizzy religious cocktail. Drunk on my own precepts and theological correctness I now see a much different way – the way of love. The last 12 months have shaken the core of my thought – a love-quake, 10.0 in size hit me, and the aftershocks of grace still are rattling my old stained glass windows. – Haha love every shudder that still comes my way. Blessings
“God loves us with an unfailing love” Wow, God is good.
Almighty God is for us, our kids. Yes you definitely want to know that in case you end up in a works-based church. Puddleglum and Aslan’s princes and princesses are so right!
Rest found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
The Bible tells us to speak the truth in love. Is that ever too difficult? It doesn’t save people to only put on love. I believe we have to put on truth. Sometimes that’s something that works for you sometimes not. But truth without love is also wrong.
I really have no words to express my appreciation for your writing of, “Your One Big Truth….” You have revealed our Father’s love in so many wondrous ways, and you have declared how endless it is! Our whole world desperately needs to know the truth of how loving our heavenly Father is! I pray this writing reaches far and wide all over this world!
Thank you, Rhonda.