The Belt of Truth 4

My favourite television show in the late nineties was the science fiction series, Space: Above and Beyond. I was such a huge fan I even wrote fanfic! Lots of readers liked one particular story, Icarus Walking—a story of truth, honour, heroism and sacrifice. In fact one person resonated with it so much she asked me to mentor her as a writer.

As I worked my way through her manuscript, I started to notice repeated ash tree symbolism. I quizzed Melissa about it. She insisted it was unintentional. This was really early days in my investigations about names but I was already suspicious. Could there be a connection between the name Melissa and the ash tree symbol?

Now any book of names will tell you that Melissa means either bee or honey. Not deterred, I looked up words for ash trees. And there I discovered the story of Melias, the nymph of the ash tree, and the saga of how the name Melissa, over millennia, changed in meaning from ash tree to bee.

The intriguing consequence of this exercise was the discovery that ‘melissa’ is also a name for the North Pole. That odd finding led to deeper digging into other ways the North Pole could be symbolised. In no time at all, it became obvious to me why Melissa had resonated so much with Icarus Walking: it was full to overflowing with obscure polar symbolism. All sorts of mysterious arctic icons spilled out of just about every scene. In particular, I seemed to focus on an idea I’d never heard of previously: a cynosure. tells us that cynosure means:

  1. something that strongly attracts attention by its brilliance, interest, etc.
  2. something serving for guidance or direction

It derives from a name for the star Polaris, used by sailors to identify north: Latin ‘Cynosūra’ of the constellation Ursa Minor, equivalent to kynós (dog’s) + ourá (tail). Quite apart from a dog’s tail, similar symbols include the ash tree, a lamp–post, a guiding light, a barber’s pole, a totem pole, a nail, a needle, a compass, a spear, a central goal on a rotating platform, Santa Claus

Quite a few of those symbols occur in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, one of my all–time favourite books. But… that didn’t explain why all of my writing at the time was drowning in symbols for cynosures. Completely baffled, I realised there was only one course of action. I went to the Lord about it and asked Him what it meant.

He must have been waiting an extremely long time for me to ask because there wasn’t the slightest delay in His answer. His explanation was pretty simple: suppose the North Pole is the goal of my Christian life. When I first step out towards it using a compass, I’d be heading pretty much in the right direction. But the longer I continued in the Christian life, the more my compass would point in the wrong direction. Because the magnetic North Pole is not the same as the geographic North Pole.

Straight away I looked for the ‘magnetic pole’ revealed in my stories. It was always the same: truth, honour, integrity.

As I identified it, God asked me a strange question: ‘Would you be willing to sacrifice your honour and integrity, if I asked you?’ Instinctively I blurted back: ‘I’d rather die.’

And, as I did, I realised the subtlety of the mistake God was trying to point out to me. In all my writing, He was telling me over and over again: ‘Your guiding light is leading you ever so slightly away from Me. Wake up and address it.’

What was my error? It was this: God is Truth. But I had made truth a god. I had taken one aspect of God’s character and deified it.

I’m not alone in this sort of behaviour. I’ve met many other people just like me. And I’ve met still others who are different, but nevertheless the same: making love a god, instead of truth. God is Love but that’s a far cry from love being God. God is just but it’s a mistake to remake Justice into the image of God. Or anything else: mercy, faith, righteousness, peace, salvation…

It’s all too easy to think the Belt of Truth is the be–all and end–all of the armour of God. Or maybe, it’s the Breastplate of Righteousness/Justice. Or the Shield of Faith.

In fact, none of these are nearly as important as our covenant defender: the one who daily kisses us and girds us in His armour. The God who, amazingly and incredibly, stoops down to be our armour–bearer.

1 Comment

  1. Dear Anne, what a fascinating study. You have given me heaps to dig into regarding both writing and life. Most appreciated. I’m one who loves the idea that the truth shall set you free, and focus on that a good deal. I have written about other aspects of our Father though, but limiting Him to one of His faces would be disastrous. Thank you. We have a mighty God.

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