Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart. (Ps 15:1-2)
My dad left to be with the Lord yesterday. He was ninety-two and had prostate cancer, but in the end he didn't suffer and passed away in his sleep. As I prepare for his memorial service, I think about many things that he taught me. He is one of those people who didn't just talk about integrity, he lived it out. One of the things he modeled was honesty. He always told the truth, whether or not it was in his best interests. I don't think anyone could have convinced him that it was better to lie, no matter what the cost. He grew up on a cattle ranch, the product of a bygone age, raised by a grandfather who instilled those values in him.
When I was growing up, my dad told me the story of the time when he had fallen asleep on duty in WWII. He was working a military loading dock by himself and had contracted the measles, but refused to report to the hospital because they were already shorthanded. He was running a fever. At one point there were no shipments coming in, so he went and lay down for a short while. When he awoke, he returned to the loading dock. Nothing seemed amiss. It turns out that a shipment had come in while he was sleeping, without his knowledge.
Later, he was called into the commander's office. The man stared him down. “Lieutenant Cranford, did you leave your post today?”
My dad didn't hesitate. “Yes, sir.”
“Where were you?”
The man started cursing at him. “If you'd lied to me, I'd have busted you out of my command. As it stands...don't ever do that again.”
My dad shared the story to teach me to always be prepared to tell the truth, and never give the lie a consideration. If you do, it will catch up with you. I haven't always done things the way he would have in my life, and when I've failed, I've usually paid the price, and had occasion to think back on his wisdom. He was a man who trusted in Christ, and this was one of the many ways that faith was lived out in his life. The lesson is true.
God protects and honors those who obey him. His blessings follow a blameless walk. That doesn't mean perfection, but it does mean turning from our failure and seeking his way. God is calling you to honesty in all that you do, to speak the truth from your heart. Your heart will change to become like his, if you will. In time, the habits of holiness become engrained in our lives. We live in the center of his goodness. Then one day, like my father, we will dwell with him on his holy mountain.