Celebration in Mystery

lighted-path

Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, and was taken up in glory. I Timothy 3:16

Mysteries are secrets. They’re hidden. Sometimes mysteries are eventually uncovered and explained, but–at least in my experience–most of the time they are not.

God is both. Some things about him have been revealed and explained. This includes things like his love his plan of redemption, his forgiving and patient nature, and his purpose for us as his children.

But other things about God remain hidden. These are the big questions about suffering and evil, wonderings about heaven, eternal life, and judgment.

Thoughts about the mystery of God soon turn into a deep theological discussion. Although that can be fascinating and invigorating, the question still remains of how we live in relationship with God.

So much of Him seems hidden from us, and what we can see of him often feels too big and distant, therefore making him difficult to understand.

It’s in quandaries like this that I’m thankful for Sundays.

Entering into worship of God where I sing his praises, lament, confess sin, receive forgiveness, and hear his truth spoken gives me a little bit of a hook in order to grapple with and celebrate a mysterious God.

When a heart chooses to worship, it recognizes that God’s mystery increases his worth. If I could figure God out all the time, I would then be in a place to determine his value based on my sense of need, intelligence, power, or well-being.

But through mystery, God proves himself larger than me. I come to trust him as my wise, all-knowing, Sovereign God.

The irony of God’s mystery is that the more of him that seems unknowable and hidden, the more I am convinced that he can handle anything. God has under control the results of evil in the world. The pain of suffering he sees as a means of good.

This sense of confidence in him leads to a desire to ascribe all value and worth to him. We want to stand in his presence and see his glory. We long to respond with devotion. We hope he will delight us because, as experience teaches, few things in this world hold elating and sustainable delight. Only God does.

When we worship, we say, “Lord, I give my life to you even though I feel like I understand you so rarely and am blind to your work in the world so often.”

Lately, God has been impressing on my heart that real and lasting value is not in what we say “yes” to, but who we say “yes” to, which is Him. Mystery may surround me where I am right now, but at the same time, I also know enough about God to believe in his love, his patience, his advocacy for my good, and his ability to satisfy my needs and longings.

And that is enough.

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Celebration in War

sword and shield

 

Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. Psalm 144:1

Psalm 144 was written by King David, a mighty warrior who fought battles and won victories as often as he ate his morning breakfast. His whole survival depended on his ability to outlast and outsmart the enemy. David wrote this Psalm as celebration of his God because he knew that all his victory came from God. Any strength or courage he possessed was a gift. David’s perseverance and endurance marked him as someone favored by God. He spent his life practicing how to live in the present with its struggles, pain, and problems while staying attentive to the joyful presence of God in his life.

The secret to David’s victory lay not in his physique, military prowess, reputation, size of the army, or the enemy’s fear of him. Rather, David enjoyed victory because he chose to submit.

Submission. A posture that lets go of our own abilities and desires to control the outcome turns out to be his greatest source of strength.

Why?

Submission says, “I want Jesus as the master of my life all the time.” When we choose submission to God, we seek after him instead of needing to be the one with all the power or all the answers. We listen to what God has to say. We take him seriously, and then act on what he says.

The person who submits to God is willing to take correction, to learn, and to admit mistakes. This believer is the person living the strong, victorious life because they understand that when we let go of our need to be right, to be in control, and to think we already know everything, we create room for Jesus in all his power and wisdom to move in. Once he does, he lives through us freeing us to serve, love, forgive, and become the person he creates and calls us to be.

Practically, how do we celebrate in the midst of battle? We choose God’s ways and we trust his knowledge of what is best. This leads to victory, and victory leads to joy. The kind of joy that comes from the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts and sustaining us to the end.