Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great:
He appeared in the flesh,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory.
- 1 Timothy 3:14-16
“[Pastor Holly, pastor of the Furnace Creek church in the Arizona Territory] tilted the can over a cluster of yellow flowers, and water poured from its spout. ‘Never met a lady detective before.’ He looked up. ‘It seems that you and I are in a similar business.’
“‘The Bible is filled with mystery, and it’s up to me to help my flock unravel the clues. I guess that makes me a detective of sorts.’
“’Never thought about it that way.’
“He shrugged. ‘Considering the nature of human beings, the biggest mystery is why God loves us so much.’
“’I often wonder that myself,’ she said. The kindly minister at the orphanage had told her that God even loved her father. She didn’t believe it then, and she wasn’t certain she believed it now. Why would God love a man so hateful when she, his daughter, could not?
“’Why is God so mysterious?’ she asked.
“’I’ll answer that question with another.’ He moved over to water a scruffy-looking shrub with silvery leaves. ‘What do you do after you solve a crime and all the questions have been answered to your satisfaction?’
“’Do?’ She frowned. ‘I close the file and go on to the next one.’
“’You see? That’s just it. If there were no mysteries in the Bible, we would close the book and go on to something else. Mysteries require answers, and that’s what keeps us searching. God loves a seeker, and if we’re diligent enough, He sometimes even rewards us with insight and understanding.’”
- Margaret Brownley, Undercover Bride
In the NIV, the word ‘mystery’ appears 26 times in the Bible, 6 times in the book of Daniel and 20 times in the New Testament, mostly in Paul’s letters. Maybe the kindly old pastor in the fictional story, quoted above, is right. We need some mystery to keep us seeking.
The old Arizona territory pastor wondered why God loves us so much. In the Scripture above, the Apostle Paul alludes to the mystery of God becoming a man and living among us. Then, there are the parables of Jesus and His teachings. Jesus rarely spelled things out succinctly. He spelled it out clearly and succinctly when He said that He was the only Way, Truth, and Light, but even then, what does that mean and how is it obtained? Ah, He mentioned that too, to Nicodemus, in that we must believe and place our trust in Him, but even that is misunderstood by so many. They think that they can believe in the historical Jesus, and when it comes to calling Jesus their ‘Lord’, do they have any concept of the meaning of the word? Again, another mystery.
The title of the blog is from a memory that may gently go away, a nightmare of sorts. My last boss, when I last worked full time, would occasionally sing “Sweet mystery of life at last I’ve found yinz.” He’d always leave off the “Ah” at the beginning. This is the beginning of the song by Rida Johnson-Young and Victor Herbert and made famous by Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, with the word ‘thee’ replaced by the word ‘yinz.’ If you can call ‘yinz’ a word. ‘Yinz’ is the Pittsburgh slang word for ‘you ones,’ similar to ‘y’all’ in the South, ‘youse guys’ in other locations, etc. People in the Pittsburgh area that speak the Pittsburgh slang are called ‘Yinzers.’ This particular boss was never in a good mood, so when you heard him sing, you wondered what type of devilish plot was being cooked.
While some mysteries are to be left alone, unsolved, like the reason for the boss singing, the mysteries of the Bible seem to stay hidden unless the seeker really wants to dig. How does a seeker get the urge to dig in the first place? The Holy Spirit, who dwells in his /her heart, places that burden upon them. The quote from Undercover Bride above is followed by Maggie, the Pinkerton detective, realizing that she had read the Bible, but had she really studied it?
By the way, this is my second Margaret Brownley novel featuring female Pinkerton detectives in the old west, and I look forward to reading more. I read mysteries as a means of escape. I used to try to figure it out. Sometimes the perpetrator is spelled out and the ‘mystery’ is figuring out how to get the proper evidence. Sometimes, the author gives too much information, too early. Yet, a mystery can turn into a thriller with someone who solves the mystery in the middle of the book just to become in peril needing to be saved. But a good mystery stays a mystery until the last stone is overturned.
The odd thing about some Biblical mysteries is that you can get one answer upon the first reading and a different answer the next time you read that passage. It’s kind of the Aslan and Lucy conversation (in Prince Caspian) where Lucy thinks Aslan has grown bigger, but Aslan says that he has not, only Lucy has grown enough to see Aslan as bigger.
Each time we read the Scriptures from cover to cover (in a year, in three years, or longer), we have grown, hopefully. We have made progress along the trail toward being more like Jesus, hopefully. And the Holy Spirit feels confident in letting us flip over another stone and finding another clue to the mystery. The odd thing is that it may be the same verse of the same chapter of the same book where you found a clue about God the last time. But this time, because you have grown, you see God in a different way. You see the problem or issue in your life in a different way. Thus, you learn more from the verse than you did before. Note, as we grow in faith, we see God bigger and our problems smaller.
From my pleasure reading, I can tell you that reading mysteries never gets old, but the greatest pleasure in all the world is learning something new about God by digging deeper into His Holy Word.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.