Living with Mystery

Like it or not we human beings are always forced to live with mystery.  I love the passages and sequences in Jesus’ life when he was so up-front that he said, “I don’t know everything.”  No, I’m not a heretic: this is part of His KENOSIS, based on Phil. 2:5-11 

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus EMPTIED himself of many of his divine prerogatives at His incarnation.  Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. 

I love the time when the disciples came to Jesus and said, “When will your 2nd coming be?”   He, not having read The Late Great Planet Earth or The Rapture or 1994, or An Idiots Guide to The End Times was forced to say, “I don’t know when it will be.”   John and James pressed him  for more info (apparently they didn’t believe He was telling all He knew), “Can we sit one on your right hand and one on your left when You establish Your kingdom?”.   He said, “I don’t know, that’s not mine to give.” 

My point is simple: all humans live with mystery so Jesus, who in His incarnation became truly human, even though He was God incarnate,  lived, as we all do, with mystery.  I think living with mystery is a huge component of being human.  We don’t have all the answers to the future, to disease, to death all spelled out, because not knowing all the answers we must become a people of trust.

I love this old fable about a traveler going through the night, seeing up ahead of him in the dim, rainy mist a monastery rising with the lights on.  Cold and inclement was the weather, and he stopped and knocked on the door. When the abbot came, he said, “May I come in?”  The abbot said, “Not only may you come in, but you may eat with us.”   The food was wonderful, the monks were warm; it was a beautiful evening, safe and dry and warm.   Because the weather was so bad, they asked him to stay the night.   He agreed, on the basis that they would supply him with a few things.  “What is it you want?”  they asked.  He said, “If I spend this night with you, I must have in my own room for myself alone this night a pound of butter, a pair of rubber pants, a poker, a cricket bat, and a bass saxophone.”  It was unusual.   They scurried around the monastery and found it all.   The weather continued bad, and as they went to sleep that night, they heard the awfullest progression of halftones and squeaks and squawks coming from his room.   Because the weather continued bad, they invited him to stay another night.   He did do that, and he asked again for that mysterious list of the same things:  a pound of butter, a pair of rubber pants, a poker, a cricket bat, and a bass saxophone.  Each night he requested those things, and each night they heard the awful noises, until finally it was time for him to leave.  The old abbot walked him to the door and said, “We were glad to supply all of those things, but would you mind telling me why you asked for them?”  The traveler said, “Well, it is a family secret.  It has been in our family for years and years, but if you promise not to tell another living soul, I’ll tell you.”  And so he told the old abbot all his heart, and the abbot, being a man of his word, never told another living soul.   And so we shall never know.

 I believe that  illustrates for us what is an indispensable function of our life as Jesus followers living in the world:  we cannot answer it all.  We wait in the darkness and talk of  God giving light where we can’t.   We understand that growing and becoming like Jesus means living with mystery.   There are answers which we have to wait for the Lord to reveal.   Jesus followers don’t have all the answers!   We can’t answer every query anyone has.   But we do know the One who can and will.  But that is His prerogative and function not ours.   Ours is to have His mind in us.   To trust Him implicitly because all the multitude of things He has chosen to reveal to us are true.  So because what He has revealed to us is true we trust God in the mysteries of life that are not revealed to us yet.

Sometimes I am better at living with mystery than I am at other times.  When a good friend dies or is diagnosed with cancer I cry out “Why?”  How about you?  I would love to hear your take on living with mystery.

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