Minimizing Mystery

Many of us love a good mystery. Nearly every film genre depends on it; the unexpected twist, the unforeseen turn, the surprising tweak. We love it. Mystery sustains our interest. It draws us in. It stimulates our imagination. It peaks our curiosity. It pumps our adrenaline. We love the uncertainty…as long as it is eventually resolved. We enjoy the ride of chaos for a short time, but not indefinitely.

Mystery in short doses is fun; in long doses it disorients us. It may intrigue us initially, but eventually the disequilibrium drives us to resist it. We like everything to have a place and be in its place.

This deeply impacts our friendships, workplaces, and Christian faith.  When mastery displaces mystery, boredom quickly follows.

Marriages suffer this fate all too often. Slowly but surely we pressure our partners to become predictable. Gradually—perhaps unconsciously—we squelch the creativity, spontaneity, and mystery that first attracted us. And it kills our interest. The “spark” disappears.

When it comes to Jesus, the more we figure Him out, the less He intrigues us. And the less He surprises us, the more indifferent we grow. We like the idea of someone who gently takes some loaves and fishes and feeds the crowd. But the wild-eyed prophet who leaps up in the middle of a storm and bellows at the wind and the waves to “Be silent!” is another matter. He rather scares us.

We think we prefer a Jesus who follows a routine and always responds the same way. We no longer want to be “surprised by grace.” Rather, we prefer (and create) a predictable Savior.

Ironically, our efforts to explain God so that others might find Him plausible or attractive, usually prove counter-productive. The more rational that we make Him, the less attractive He becomes. A god whom I can contain and explain, who functions only within the parameters I set and define, is domesticated and emasculated.

Our experience of God changes when we re-encounter and re-embrace His mystery.

Pray for some Holy Spirit surprises. Let God be God. Loosen the restraints. Return Him to the wild. Allow Him to surprise you. Break Him out of the box. Set Him free. Permit the wind to swirl in random patterns. And delight in it.

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4 Responses to Minimizing Mystery

  1. Jerry D. Robertson says:


    • Michael Preston says:

      David – AS USUAL – great food for thought – perfect for discussion in our small groups – and getting in my “conviction mess-kit” always stretches me in my walk – thanks Brother!

  2. Norma L. Smith says:

    thank you for the encouragement and rekindling the fire.

  3. Cheryl says:

    As humans I think we do tend to often put God in a box and try to fit Him into our own parameters. When we ’embrace the mystery’ perhaps it is a form of worship in itself, by recognizing that ‘His ways are not our ways”.

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