Believe in a Mystery

[Word count: 933. Approximate read time: 3-4 minutes]

“If you want my love, well, you’ve got to get closer to me
I don’t understand why we can’t get close enough.”
—Jars of Clay, “Closer”

Access denied

I met an interesting girl online recently. She was the holy trinity of smart, talented, and beautiful. But, to my chagrin, she was very furtive and dodgy. If she was playing coy, she was playing to win. My curiosity was piqued because she kept her thoughts and feelings so hidden. Typical of me, I’m always fascinated by what I cannot understand.

I decided I wanted to get to know her better, but that wasn’t happening fast enough. So I worked up my nerve and expressed interest directly. The response I received was dusted with sugar. I imagine she giggled and shrugged her shoulders as she essentially told me, “you know enough about me already!” Fierfek.

The response landed like a playful punch on the chin, with the indication that a less-playful punch could follow if I didn’t pick up the first hint. Access firmly denied. She has decided to remain mysterious and aloof, the way she wants to be.

My ego was chapped over her polite refusal. But before I could get about the business of licking my wounds, I had déjà vu. The way I felt about her is the same way I feel about God. Well hot damn. Look at that.

Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin

The parallel is that I’ve constantly flung my whole self against the front doors of God and his mystery hoping one day he’ll relent and let me in. I ask him why things are the way they are; no response. (That’s code for “none of your business.”) I ask him when things will happen; he continues moving about the house doing his chores as if he didn’t hear me. I ask how to go about things; he says, “trust me.”

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

—Isaiah 55:9 (NIV)

He’s so guarded about his thoughts and feelings. I can’t stand it. God frustrates me and I’m angry with him. But I can’t stop talking about Him, and I can’t just leave him alone. (Raise your hand if you’ve ever been in a relationship like this.) I thought desiring to know more about God was a good and welcomed—even encouraged—thing. Perhaps I thought wrong.

Once I do understand things, I typically lose interest in them and my attention shifts to some other novelty or enigma that arouses curiosity. Maybe that’s why God won’t let me “know” him. He must know that if I truly figure him out, I’ll be out the door and on to something else. If I’m driven insatiably to find out the why behind things I don’t understand, maybe the best thing for me is that I never do. After all, the chase is often more exciting than the capture.

Huff and puff

There are pros and cons to getting the answers I sleuth so hard for. The pro is that if you give me what I want, I will let you get some sleep. If I was God, I would be tired of hearing the same prayers and insistent pleadings over and over again, ad nauseum. Those pastors and worship leaders and devotees who always seem to have the inside track on God’s every move and shift could get a break from my probing them about what they know. My curiosity would be sated and I could stop acting like supernatural paparazzi trying to uncover what God’s getting us for Christmas and break the story before December 25th.

The con is that familiarity breeds contempt. Michael Jackson was more fascinating in the 80’s when regular paparazzi weren’t transmitting every detail about his plastic surgeries, his vitiligo, his bizarre, sprawling Neverland ranch, his prepubescent company kept, and the like. There was a sacredness and magic to him back when more details of his life were kept hidden from us. I believe that shroud of mystery was a key ingredient to his magic and allure. It was as if he would be profaned and diminished if he wasn’t kept a distance away from the rest of the world.

Stand in the place where you live

Although the Bible says “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10) …I have grown weary of trying to pull back the veil on God’s mystery. I’m tired of polite punches on the chin and licking my wounds. I’m tired of trying to understand why I’m denied access to what I desire.

Maybe the velvet rope between me and God’s locked-away thoughts is to protect me. Maybe I wouldn’t like him so much if I knew. Maybe I can’t handle it. Maybe it really isn’t any of my business and it behooves us both for him to remain aloof and beautiful and untouchable.

That’s really quite fine. But I’ve extended my hand in friendship. So now, I’m just going to stand here. And I’m going to wait. He knows where I live, the phone works both ways, and I check my e-mail often. If there’s any change of heart, he knows where to find me. If there’s anything he wants me to know, I’m confident he can get the message to me.

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3 thoughts on “Believe in a Mystery

  1. I have experienced the same frustration that you describe here. I have shed tears and sobbed of the longing to hear his voice and for him to answer my questions. The only answer I get is to trust him. So i attempt to know his heart through his word, and that’s where he reveals to me the truth of who he Is. although I still hunger for a deeper relationship with him, reading his word, increasing in faith and trust, has helped me to grow in relationship with him, experience his love and power, and get me to a place where I am satisfied in JUST trusting in him .

    • Hey Chris,

      It’s nice to meet you. It has been so comforting to find that I’m not the only person who feels frustrated in their walk with Christ this way.

      As a Christian, it seems that I shouldn’t need it, but if you say this tension has been eased and your faith has increased as a result of reading the Word, it makes me want to try again. Thank you sincerely for your encouragement.

      Mark

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