Finding the True Pearl of Great Price
by Fred Pruitt
(Published four years ago titled, “The Pearl of Great Price.” This is an edited and updated version.)
One of the things I was looking for, back in my late-adolescence “God-searching” days, was a concept I ran into in my reading, embodied in the term, “authenticity.” I’m sure lots of authors had used the term or the idea in their writings, but it hit me when I read Stephen Gaskins’ little book, Monday Night Class. I got it, his point, or at least got a piece of it!
What it meant to me, was to seek to become honestly and authentically who one was supposed to be, i.e., to become one’s “real self.” I didn’t know what that was at the time, but I knew that the demand of this idea I had in my head, to “find out the truth about spiritual things,” would not let me rest until I pursued it, and to pursue it, two things were paramount.
One, it must be serious and real. It could not be a quest to find out the most popular opinion and go with that, nor would anything less than the truth be satisfying. In some sense a resolution rose in me to mold myself around the truth, (whatever “It” was), rather than molding a truth built around my own liking. I knew, somehow, that it would have to be that way, if one wanted to fullu know truth. We do not get to pick the “truth we like.” 2+2=4 is Truth, whether we like it or not.
And second, to turn the “serious and authentic mindset,” into earnestness and a real “effort” to establish disciplined practices, habits and new ways of thinking, all while maintaining an unending blitz on the doors of my mind and spirit to bring them into alignment and expanded understanding and clarity – to attain “enlightenment” is one way to put it! (Btw, I was trying to be a good Zen Buddhist during that time.)
Enlightenment or bust!
That idea was part of the framework in which Jesus found me. It was not a bad idea. Carrying that idea of authenticity with me into my beginning days in Jesus, though we can technically call it “self effort,” it was the highly “Divinely-winked-upon” self effort of our early days, and the concept stood me in good stead. The Spirit always works in who and where we are in the moment without condemnation, and He used that working concept in my thinking to set me up to be a student, to be a listener, an observer. (Something else I’d learned in those “eastern” days, the new student sat at the back of the class and just listened for a time, because the new student does not even know the questions, much less the answers.)
So it emptied me as far as it could go in those days. Coming into Christ I knew I had come in with nothing – I tossed out most of the “spirituality” I’d learned from those days – and I became quite voracious, ravenously hungry for spiritual food, something with substance, that stuck to your ribs!
That whole concept (of self-effort) was only reinforced in the first church body the Spirit put us in, when we were taught by the Prayer Minister to “storm heaven,” because, “the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” (Matt 11:12) I took it to heart and began a several year assault on heaven’s gate. “Seek the Lord,” “Draw near to Him,” “Open your heart,” “Love Him,” “Praise Him,” and all the other admonitions from scripture and the pulpit continually exhorted me (us) to press further, seek harder, to be “not weak in faith,” because we knew that we would reap, “in due season, if we faint not.” To do “my utmost for His highest.” (If I were to re-title Chambers’ book, I would call it, “His Utmost for My Highest!”)
I have no regrets for my years in that. None. It was not wasted time – it was God’s perfect time and place. It always has been. As far as the difficulty of that time, the condemnation, whether self-inflicted or from some “ministerial” source, it was perfect. I had to give it a shot to do my “utmost” for Christ. I’m in good company. Peter thought the same way, when he said he would never deny Jesus. Peter found out his own resolve failed at its first real test. And eventually, like Peter, I found out my own resolve eventually got to a place where it could go no more, because it became confused and afraid.
There is a period in most of our lives, for those who press into Christ, where we give it a good effort at becoming “more like Christ.” We do not know we are about to fight a battle in which, if we come out the loser, we come out the winner. We don’t know that yet. In the beginning we are thinking about making the only “me” we know to be a better “me.” We’re looking to get a spiritual makeover, so to speak.
“Make ‘me’ pleasing to You, Lord!” we pray, not knowing we are praying for an impossibility, first, because it is already true that we are pleasing to Him, and second, we are actually in our mind’s understanding at the time, ignorantly asking for self-deification. Seeing God in separation, He up there, we down here, we are in a sense asking Him to make us a separate “god” who is “like” Him.
As I said, for a time in our ignorance God winks at our separation mindset. We operate out of it in relation to God, and when we “hear” God or see some “work” of is, and seeing it out of that separation, God honors it for a time. Even as God honored Saul’s anointing and still guided Saul by the Spirit until Saul could no longer fulfill God’s will because of fear and torment, which is when David came forth, a man after God’s heart who would fulfill all His will. Saul is the separated “flesh man,” and David the “inner Christ,” who grows up even while Saul is still running things. Finally Saul cannot go on. He cannot hold back the Philistines any longer. The Lord is not with him, and at the end in fear and desperation he falls on his sword and dies. Only then does David begin his reign, though for some time he has to put down the house of Saul.
Therefore, this difficulty so many of us experience in bouts with legalism, religion, or in anything else, is all for this Saul to finally give up and die (by realizing his own death in Christ’s death – revealed by the Spirit), that David (Christ in us) might come forth! It may have been a tough road, but the tears of joy flow when we observe ourselves and say, “Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?” (Song 8:5)
Other places I’ve told of how that all came unraveling, until I found myself reduced to that “nothing,” and out of that “nothing,” coming into a union, “I live, yet not I but Christ” conscious mindset, so there is no need to go over that again. I did, however, want to testify of that Seed born many years ago in me and which now, of Itself, has grown up into a great tree. This is not to magnify myself, but again, to testify to the faithfulness of the One Who Promised!
This is where this word, “authenticity,” comes in. When I first came upon and experienced the ecstatic joy of knowing oneness with Christ starting in 1980, for the second time I had found something in a field, a “Pearl of Great Price,” and had given all I had to get it. Only this time, this second time, (when I initially saw “union”), it became much more personal. Because the first time I found the Pearl of Great Price was in the very beginning, and I knew the Pearl was Jesus, but I didn’t know what or where the field was, and I didn’t know that the Pearl being “Jesus,” had an even greater meaning.
This second time I began to grasp the “greater” meaning. Because as I first began to discover these things by the Spirit, I had learned that the kingdom of God was within. So I realized first of all that the “field” was the field of my own life. But I was beginning to discover something greater, that yes, first the “Treasure” was Jesus or Christ. But when we come into our maturity, we find in ourselves not “Jesus,” but a whole new expression of Christ by the Spirit, the one I had been waiting on and expecting, the “authentic” me!
Now this Pearl, something which previously I had known as separate and apart from me, something worshiped, acknowledged, believed in, outside of or separate from me, had moved into “me” in the most total sense possible! He had not just come into some nebulous “place” in me which I could not identify, as my understanding had been up until that time. Somehow the Pearl had moved so intimately into me, that the Pearl was me! Jesus moved in by His Spirit, but eventually what I get out of that, is not me being Jesus, but me being me. The “real me.” The one created in Jesus Christ. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:10), and, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Col 3:3).
Have we truly seen this? We do not do our own makeover. We are, from start to finish, Alpha to Omega, “His workmanship.”
It took a while to settle into that. You see, it is so incredulous at first, that the Christ child we sought has now become embodied in our very selves. Because it seems to impossible to us, we are tempted to join with the accusers and say it could never be that mere man could say that. How dare we? Who are we, to dare to say, this Child is born, born in this manger, and now He has grown up IN US to be the Light of the World and the Salt of the Earth? Who could say such a thing? Surely pride must be the culprit!
Saying stuff like that is what made me think Paul was prideful in my pre-Christ days, because of his “boasting” about how much he worked for the Gospel. Now I see that the authentic “faith of God” which is in us cannot allow the flesh to prevail. For me, any confession short of, “Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily,” would be unbelief. Don’t worry about boasting if your boasting is in the Lord. It isn’t boasting, but an affirmation of the Truth!
This is because once the truth of Gal 2:20, 1 Cor 6:17, and many other similar words become alive in our understanding and consciousness, and we begin to see it, then dare to believe and confess it, there the battle is joined. It is won already, but we are not necessarily spared some of the fight. Because sometimes it will seem like heaven and earth and everyone in them are against us, testifying against us that we cannot possibly be this “Christ” person walking around.
We accuse ourselves most of all, or at least the voice accusing us sounds like our own voice, and we may take a dip or two in the pool of self-pity now and again, almost agreeing with the accuser because we are so weary from his continual rants. But victory is not up to us, and certainly not the accuser. Victory is in the hands of the One Who brought us there in the first place, Who promises to bring us through the valley of the shadow of death, Who causes us to lie down in green pastures and assures our dwelling in the house of the Lord forever. He is our victory!
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.
Much has been said of late among some of us about this “gap,” mentioned by Norman Grubb, between our taking something by our word of faith, and the Spirit’s confirmation of that “word” at some later time. I suppose what I am talking about ties in with this. It is during this “gap” time, that by this continual “testing” or “struggle for faith,” that the consciousness of Who we are comes forth. In other words, we start out with a “concept,” which by faith we take to be true about ourselves in Christ. We have been brought to that point by the revelation or drawing of the Spirit. It comes by this inner Word springing up, so that, like Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Christ of God, which he saw by a flash of light in his understanding, we have the same type of “flash” in getting our first glimpse of union. We see it and believe somehow that it must be true. As we are led by the Spirit, we move to “take” or “receive” it for ourselves, by our word of faith that Gal 2:20 is true, not just generally, but true specifically in me! But we don’t have it yet in our possession. At that point we have the truth of it conceptually, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and it IS true, but our hold on it is nebulous, even as our hold on “salvation” was something nebulous in the beginning for many of us.
As Hebrews says, the Spirit exercises our “senses” and by that exercising brings us to maturity – rest in God through union with Christ. (Heb 5:14). Over and over and over we are exercised in this one thing: that we are Christ living in the world, and the life we are living in the flesh by His faith, is His life manifest! That is what the battle is about – to come into full possession of that which has already possessed us!
It has many facets to it, this final denouement. Those facets include things like detachment; contentment in darkness or light, abundance or need; reliance on “God only” in whatever context our lives dictate; an inner certainty given and received as a gift.
But the main facet of our total assumption of our oneness with Christ in God by the Spirit, is that we finally come upon the Pearl all grown up now, a beautiful Pearl that the Father sowed in our field, all resplendent and shining with luster and inner light. It has always been first and foremost Christ, and it still is, except now it is WE who come forth. Jesus did not call Himself out of the tomb, but Lazarus. He called Him by name to awake from death.
Now in this third great way – the first being the day we began to know Him; the second the day we believed we were in union with Him and had cast ourselves away so that He might be All in all – this third time we find we have awakened to believe what we have believed, and by that “believing what we have believed,” we awaken to the fulness of God by awakening to the Christening of ourselves in the Spirit. The bands have been broken, chains ripped apart, bondage has been done away with, for what can withstand or hold prisoner the Christ of God? Neither man nor devil!
Like the remnant who had seen the first temple razed by the Babylonians and lived to see the day its walls were reestablished wept at the sight of the goodness of the Lord, we find ourselves weeping at the grace, mercy and love of God, that He performs His promises. What we believed so long ago, has born the fruit of Promise, and the Promise was that God would have a Son, even as the Promise to Abraham was that he would have a son. Abraham’s promised son was Isaac, “Laughter.”
We are in the place of both the Son of God and the Son of Abraham, but for this moment I only want to speak of Abraham’s Promise. The Promise was Isaac, Laughter, and when we see it, this Pearl, this Treasure, this Living Water, and know that it has truly come into our possession even though it is in the imperceptibility of the Spirit, then we know we are God’s own gift to us, the fulness of ourselves for His glory. It is like the woman who has travailed for so long to bring forth the child, has given birth, and the child is here, and the child of promise is us.
And that is laughter, laughter because it is a big and funny joke God has made that such as we could be the Promised One; laughter because we had always had hints of it but it seemed to good to be true and we were afraid to believe it fully; laughter because it is joy unspeakable and full of glory; laughter because at the heart of the universe, in the heart of love, in that light, everything, past, present and future, is transfigured (comprehend what I mean by “transfigured”) in the Light of God, and in that moment we realize God has taken away the tears, taken away the sorrow, taken away the wanton need and the temptation in the light of Transfiguration, and replaced it all with Laughter.
“Just be your real self,” Norman Grubb used to say. That’s the same thing as “authentic.” It just means, and I say this with authority – be yourself! Find out who you are in Christ, and be it. You be you! The “real” you – not one concocted from mimicry, or dogma, or fear – but of Christ!