I love Netflix. For a number of reasons actually, but a few stand out such as no commercials, a huge selection, and not having to wait a week to watch the next episode. I have to admit, the last one is the clincher for me. Some of my favorite shows leave me absolutely hanging at the end of the episode. Sometimes I’m completely confused, other times shocked, and perhaps even a bit peeved. There’s this little part of me that thinks that I’ll be able to figure it out half way through the season, which of course is absurd, because how else are they going to keep you watching. Don’t even get me started on series finales…ummm LOST anyone! The element of mystery is a powerful thing, yet something we struggle with more often than we think.
Mystery is built right into the world around us. The average adult makes up to 35,000 decisions or choices in a single day! To think that we can wake up in the morning and predict with 100% certainty how our day will unfold is crazy, but we do it all the time without realizing. We get upset when there is a hitch in the schedule, the bus is running late, the meeting doesn’t start on time, little Timmy forgot his shin guards for soccer practice so you have to turn around, and so the day goes… your top winding tighter and tighter the more things don’t go as “expected.” Tally the score at the end of the day: The world – 1, You – 0. We have completely forgotten to leave room for mystery. Was it truly the world that beat you up, or was it the choices you made in response to the situations? Leaving everything the same, would your perspective on the day change if you learned to embrace mystery? Or should I say, God’s mysterious ways. I say yes.
It’s mind boggling how God can continue to work His plan with our 35,000 daily choices getting in the way. He sees the beginning from the end with the outcome established, yet we have an influence on what happens. Say what?! This dynamic was highlighted to me in Matthew chapter 26. Jesus had just been betrayed by Judas and was being seized when Peter stepped forward to try to stop his capture. He lunged forward and attacked one of the men with a sword cutting off the poor guy’s ear. This of course prompted Jesus to speak truth into the situation. To avoid an already tense situation from getting worse, he pleads to have the sword put back and then proceeds to say,
“Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” Matthew 26:53-54
It’s safe to say that this day was not going according to plan from a human perspective, and Jesus out of his own mouth admits that he had a choice in the matter that could change the outcome, yet he yielded to what he knew was the greater plan. There is a very powerful verse in the Bible that can change you if you let it:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
I guess the next logical questions would be: Do you love Him? And do you believe you have been called for a purpose? If the answers to these questions are “yes” then in order to truly believe God is on your side you’ve got to snuggle right up and get cozy with mystery. There cannot be one without the other. One of the most profound conclusions I’ve made in my life is that I don’t have everything figured out and chances are I never will. Go figure! How do we become at peace with this reality? Jesus, once again gave us insight. By restraining himself and not calling upon Heaven’s resources, he was modeling that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.
We all have abilities, but understanding what they are versus how they should be used is the challenge. Making a bomb is an incredible technical skill, but learning when to detonate it is the true skill. When you learn more about what you should do with your abilities as opposed to what you can do, you are actually putting your trust back in God for the outcome. You are embracing the mystery of how God operates.
Remember when Timmy forgot his shin guards? You can absolutely give a lecture on the importance of organization because you are a good teacher. Or should you use that teaching ability to remind him that mistakes happen and he’s more important than getting to practice on time? Maybe God recognizes that you need a little fine tuning in the patience department and He’s developing your character. Either way, it’s worth pausing and conversing with Him even if the answer doesn’t come right away. When my wife and I got married we wrote our own vows to each other and one statement we made sticks with me to this day. “I promise to accept the mystery of your uniqueness.” Thirteen years later I’m just now beginning to understand the truth He was planting in me about how He works…mysterious indeed.