Within one of the cafe’s tall dinning booths she settled herself deep into the cozy bench seat. The aroma of fresh cheesy bagels and steamy lattes permeated the air as she upgraded her slow-brewed ice tea with just a hint of sweetener, the pink packet of course.
Her attentions were slowly being reeled away into the frantic inquires of the adorable young woman seated across the table from her. It was not uncommon for inquisitive young people to request one on one time with her. It was as though she had something to offer them that they couldn’t seem find anywhere else. You might call it somewhat of a proven wisdom. She was always able to help them see things they had never considered before. Request after request was beginning to point to the fact that she just might have something to offer an audience that was not of her peers but rather of her legacy.
The questions began to fire at her one after another, and then another, and soon they were coming one on top of another. The questions were quite characteristic of most young women this age, young women who’d decided to give Jesus their life, and yes, even their love life. “How will I know?” “What if I miss him?” “What if God wants me to be single my whole life?” “What if God chooses a husband for me that I’m not even attracted to?” “What, what, what, … well, what if the man I am supposed to marry marries someone else?” Kaaa-boom! That final question shot through her like the firing of an old artillery cannon. The echo of it thumbed down the “been-there-done-that” pages of an untold love story she kept guarded deep within her heart.
Everything in her was stunned with unexpected exposure. After all, that question, it was so exacting to this most recent heartbreak. It would be impossible for such a precise question to come from someone she just met the week before. She quickly suppressed her unbelief, sobered up her attentions, and calmly replied with the answer she had been giving to all the young woman’s questions. It was the only answer she knew, “You just keep your eyes upon Jesus.”
As that question came firing at me, some 5 years ago, as I was in the middle of holding onto the hand rails of my recovery. That particular heartbreak was not my first rodeo in being “led” into a devastating disappointment with God. You see, several years before that I was contending for a different miracle of sorts. My mom was three months into a battle with cancer when I was led to believe, according to the bible, that God wanted to heal her and would heal her. The healing never came. Instead, her death came quickly.
Disappointment also came. It stood at the door of my life wagging its finger at God just waiting to escort me back into a life of cynicism and despondency. However, hope, so tender and so sweet whispered into my ear a dare. The dare was to risk against all reason and trust God one more time in order to discover something higher than just another disappointment. Fretfully I said yes and God introduced me into something I call “embracing mystery”.
To clarify, a disappointment with God would be an experience where you followed His voice into a hope that never made it into its hopeful expectation.
Consider the disciples: They too must have been stunned in those last-minutes when Jesus gave up His final breath and then hung there stone cold dead on that cross. It was God Who had led them there. God had promised them a King to rule the nations. They were “led” to believe they were finally getting what generations before them had hoped for and labored for in prayer and faith. Their hope was actually fastened to a hope centuries old. There, hanging on a cross was their promised King, their friend, their hope. He was dead, simply and surely dead. Why would God work so hard those last three years to convince them this was the One they had been waiting for only to have it end like it did? Why the disappointment? Why the mystery?
One of the definitions of mystery is: any truth that is unknowable except by divine revelation. As Christians we are called to hope, trust, and believe; to live this new life by faith rather than by what we see with our eyes. We are called to trust God’s Word and the words He speaks personally into our hearts. It would be good for us to know that there will come circumstances that completely contradict the hope that is living in our hearts, a hope that God gave. We have to know we will, at some point, collide head-on with a giant in our promised land; a giant called disappointment. However, if we embrace the mystery we will embrace a truth that will only come through divine revelation.
When we experience disappointment we generally have one of two reactions: one is to harden our hearts and just flat-out quit. We make an inner vow to live safe and set boundaries all around ourselves to avoid further risk. A second reaction would be to forfeit the full value of our hope by making compromising choices. This reaction ultimately compromises our own personal value as well. We will conveniently put God in a box and secretly determine that He was never that good in the first place. Worse yet we will decide God never considered us good enough for something too good to be true.
Consider Proverbs 25:2:
“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the glory of kings is to search out a thing.”
What if we walked through the valley of disappointment and chose to embrace a mystery instead? The greatest revenge on a disappointment with God is to embrace it as a mystery. It has been my experience that the ingredients to overcoming disappointment with God is actually buried within its own mystery. In God’s kingdom mysteries are not meant to be hidden from us, they are hidden for us, designed to spur a seeker on to seek even more. Mystery is noble, much like a king it doesn’t give way to fatalism any more than it demands a reason. Like royalty, we are invited to steward a mystery with wide-eye wonder and to abandon ourselves to a greater brilliance, a greater love, and a greater purpose than has been revealed up to that point. The revealing of mystery is an ancient way of God. In Romans 16:25 we see Paul giving away a secret:
“Now to Him Who is able to strengthen you in the faith which is in accordance with my Gospel and the preaching of (concerning) Jesus Christ (the Messiah), according to the revelation (the unveiling) of the mystery of the plan of redemption which was kept in silence and secret for long ages…”
The crucifixion of Jesus looked like a period penned at the end of an epic true life story. To the disciples the cross had all the finishing characteristics of a sentence’s period but it wasn’t. The mystery was starting to unveil. On this side of that mystery you and I can see it was really a comma. It was a big ol’ mysterious pause between God-sized thoughts. The cross was so much more than a disappointing end, it was actually a “to be continued” footnote directing its spectators onto the next part of the story. You see, until God pens a period upon your hope it is not the end. Mystery means your wounded hope is open and available for your investigation.
Every disappointing outcome is not always God’s will, not every thing that happens in our lives is His will. If everything that happened was His will Jesus would never had instructed us to pray for His will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Not every death is in God’s timing that’s why Jesus would raise the dead. Not every heartbreak is the will of God. Not every loss or natural disaster is the will of God.
Jesus left us in charge down here. He told us while we are here on the Earth to seek and to ask and to knock until Heaven shows up in our hearts and in our circumstances. Remember when you said yes to salvation? News flash: you entered into your eternal life that very day. You are now living in two worlds at once. It’s why most days feel like a stretch. I believe if we could learn to walk through a disappointment without losing our hope and instead embrace its mysterious outcome then we will grow to be a culture of people to whom nothing will be impossible in relationship to Jesus.
Within our own disappointment do we ever consider that maybe, just maybe God was disappointed too?
I will close here for now but fear not, it’s only a comma; a pause between blogs: “Love Embraces Mystery… the rest of the story” should post tomorrow.