Sometimes you read something and you realize that even though what you read is an obvious truth, it now resonates with your soul as if you never heard it before. I sort of love and hate that, in one way it makes me feel the thrill of discovery and illumination, in another way I feel a little flush of shame as if I’ve missed something. In reality, all I’ve done is uncovered a mystery.
When you and I think of a mystery, we think of things like Agatha Christie novels, Sherlock and why anyone thinks reptiles make good pets. Maybe I only think that last one. We think of a mystery as something to figure out, something to discover, and something that cannot be explained. It is something hidden, and hidden from us like a secret. A mystery is a challenge to us to unravel.
The definition of mystery in the Bible is different. While we think of a mystery as knowledge kept from us, in the scripture it is truth waiting to be revealed. While we think it a thing to investigate that we might understand or know, God’s mysteries can only be uncovered by Him, revealed when and how He determines. This eases my mind because,
“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.” Donald Rumsfeld
When the knowing rests on my ability to know, I can’t help but be anxious. It feels like a failure, that just-on-the-tip-of-my-tongue thought that won’t gel so I can get it out into the light. This can be a good tension though, like the beginning of a hunger pain that reminds you it’s time to eat, time to stop what you’re doing and be nourished. I want to know, I know there is something to know, and now, in its time, God makes it known.
When you read the book of Acts, what you will see over and over is the moving of the Spirit in ways the disciples probably didn’t expect. They knew they were to do kingdom work in a kingdom way, but the known of how that would happen and even what the result would be was a total unknown. But God knew. Day by day, year by year, encounter by encounter, the mystery unfolded before them.
If you live a life where knowing is on your shoulders, you will sag, you will slow, you will stop. It’s too hard to carry the weight of knowns and unknowns. That’s why the mystery isn’t ours to solve, but ours to walk in. When it’s God that orchestrates the confluence of the tributaries, we move in His flow, in His strength, by His power. We see this so clearly in the way Jesus walked here as a man:
“He constantly turned to His Father in everything, refusing to hold His own glory, walking as the most dependent man who ever lived. And now the Spirit of the most dependent man who ever lived has made His home in us.” Emily P. Freeman, Simply Tuesday
Independence is the American way, striking out, conquering new frontiers. It’s the prideful way, the “I’ll do it myself way”, and it’s the “gee, I’m totally worn out from the struggle” way. In dependence is the way of Jesus, who didn’t need to be dependent at all, but chose it. Why would we do any differently?
“To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col 1:27-28