2021 and Moments of Truth

Likely, the new year of 2021 (and perhaps even the new month of Shevat, which begins today, January 14, 2021) will lead some of us to face “moments of truth.” Recently, I delivered a message at my synagogue in Atlanta, in which I discussed some thoughts about how to face “moments of truth.” Below is the article version of that message.

This month, I invested some time escaping into the world of Star Wars movies! Specifically, I was watching the final episodes of the series. Admittedly, I am usually slow to catch on to what is happening in movies. My mind typically does not work fast enough to get a step ahead to figure out where plot lines are going.

So, in Star Wars Episodes 7 and 8, and until the big reveal in Episode 9, I had no idea of the character Rey’s identity. Early on, I was wondering if she was the daughter of Han Solo and Princess Leah. Eventually, we learned that was not the case. But then, in Episode 9, we reach the moment of truth when Kylo Ren reveals to Rey that she is the granddaughter of the evil Emperor Palpatine.

At this point, if you are like me, you went, “Ahhh, I see. Now, this makes sense!” That is what moments of truth do. “Moments of truth” are just one link in a chain of events or circumstances. “Big reveals” are pivotal in helping us to understand what is behind us and what may lie ahead.

At the end of the book of Genesis, in Parashat Vayigash, we have one of the most important “moments of truth” in the Bible. This is the parashah when Joseph says to his brothers, “Ani Yosef!” (“I am Joseph!”). The Chofetz Chayim (which is a source on the topic of Jewish ethics and laws of speech) offers some helpful commentary that articulates the magnitude of this moment:

When Joseph said, “I am Joseph,” God’s master plan became clear to the brothers. They had no more questions. Everything that had happened for the last twenty-two years fell into perspective. So, too, will it be in the time to come when God will reveal Himself and announce, “I am the LORD.” The veil will be lifted from our eyes and we will comprehend everything that transpired throughout history.”

I like how the Chofetz Chayim connects the magnitude of the moment of truth for Joseph and his brothers with a future moment of truth when God will reveal himself and help us to comprehend history. I am convinced that it will be at that “moment of truth” when the world will see Yeshua as he really is. Namely, as the Torah-loving (and Torah-teaching) King of Israel who brings salvation and unity to the entire world.

Clearly, “moments of truth” are important as we think about the Bible, history, and the unfolding of God’s kingdom agenda. Moments of truth also prove to be decisive in our individual stories. However, they are not always easy to navigate. It is often challenging to steer safely through a “defining” crossroads. I have two thoughts along this line that I think can help us as we face our own moments (and seasons) of truth.

First, during moment-of truth-seasons, we have run to and rely on HaShem more than we normally do. Personally, when I have faced “crunch” seasons in my life, it has served me well to spend abnormal amounts of time in prayer. Proverbs 3:5-6 comes to mind as a key verse along this line:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

This verse communicates a key concept when we face moments of truth. We must trust HaShem, and run to HaShem, and acknowledge HaShem. Then we must trust that he will make our paths straight through our critical junctures.

The second thought I have about navigating moments of truth is listening to our gut and trusting it. I read a helpful quote along this line this week from the author Cheryl Strayed on trusting your gut:

I do not think there is a single dumb thing I have done in my adult life that I did not know was a dumb thing to do while I was doing it. Even when I justified it to myself—as I did every time—the truest part of me knew I was doing the wrong thing. Always. As the years pass, I am learning how to better trust my gut and not do the wrong thing, but every so often I get a harsh reminder that I’ve still got work to do. [1]

All of us, indeed, have work to do in this area. Since none of us are experts at handling moments of truth, the biggest thing we need in moments of truth is chesed (mercy) from HaShem.

On an action level, in our moments of truth, may we run to HaShem in unusual and perhaps even radical ways. May God help us to also learn better trust in our gut. He has given us a conscience, the Holy Spirit, and experience to inform our guts. Usually, our guts are right and will lead us in positive directions.

May you have a happy and healthy 2021 filled with positive and successful moments of truth!

[1] Source: jamesclear.com


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