Usually, Puzzles Drive Me Mad
You’ve been there, right?
Your second cousin, or Aunt twice removed (I’m not even sure what that means!), gives you one of those annoying little puzzles as a Christmas present (they probably thought you’d notice if they gave you socks three years running). Now, not the jig-saw variety, it’s one of those ‘untangle the rings, or un-jumble the pegs’ variety—the ones that begin to question your emotional and mental health.
For the record, my wife HATES those puzzles. But me? They drive me MAD. There is a significant difference between our responses. My wife can’t even be bothered with them; she knows she hates them so doesn’t even feel compelled to solve them. I, on the other hand, well, I feel I have to beat them into submission. I’m better than this puzzle. I will not be made a fool of.
I’m the kind of guy that likes to have stuff figured out, to have it all squared away and packaged neatly (preferable alphabetised). Not knowing, or seeing the gaps, mean that puzzles are prone to driving me mad. I need to solve the mystery. This makes me a tenacious problem solver: 1. Define the mystery 2. Figure out the steps 3. Win! Easy.
Contained to the lounge room while traversing the post-Christmas bloat, this relationship with puzzles isn’t a problem. It’s when this drive to resolve every mystery breaks its banks that I begin to get into trouble. You see, life is filled with mystery. More importantly, God himself is by very nature a profound mystery. More mysteriously, it is precisely God’s mystery that is meant to lead us to rest rather than the frenzied mental scrambling we often respond with.
Consider for a moment the contrasting characters Luke presents in the opening chapter of his account of the gospel. Zechariah heard the mysteriously unbelievable good news that he, an aged man, and his wife, who was aged and barren, would soon conceive a son. Likewise, Mary soon after received similar news; she, a young unmarried girl, who was still a virgin, would give birth to the Messiah. Understandably, both had questions:
Zechariah: “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” Luke 1:18
Mary: “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” Luke 1:34
The big difference in the questions both had is found in the heart that beat behind them. I know this by listening to Gabriel’s response. The angel’s response to Zechariah was filled with rebuke, because, ”you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” Mary’s heart was different though. Mary’s response to the mystery was, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Zechariah received rebuke. Mary received a blessing.
It’s okay to feel like you don’t have it all figured out. We live in an age where something is only credible if you can explain it. There are those too who feel that way about matters of faith. Yes, we’re called to think carefully on these things, and give ourselves to careful consideration of God’s Word. I don’t want to discourage you from reasoned and careful study of the things of God — but listen carefully — God is bigger and greater than what you and I can figure out in our tiny minds.
God may grant us insight into seeing and understanding some of what he is accomplishing in us and for us, but faith doesn’t rest on what we can explain. Faith rests on what God alone can accomplish. This is the fundamental glory of the gospel.
My goal for the remaining years God grants me to have breath is to join with Job in regularly placing my hand over my mouth in awe of the mystery of God.
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” — Job 42:2-6
When we leave room for mystery, it magnifies God’s worth.
When we say — “God, I have no way of understanding how you’ll do this, and I don’t even understand why you’re doing this—but I trust you. I trust you are wise, and I trust you are good. You are faithful, so whatever, and however, you think is best—do that.” — when this is what we say to God, it makes God look big, it makes him look amazing, and it magnifies his worth. And then?