She knew it was time to send them back. The caterpillars softly wriggled in her hand, spelling out “Goodbye.” 

from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick

So much of life is a mystery: so little time and so many questions. Through time spent with my grandson, I’m rediscovering the power of the question, “Why?” When my own children were young, now more than a few years ago, I was bombarded with a barrage of “Whys?” and now my five-year old grandson is allowing me to relive those experiences as he questions what he sees and hears. His asking “Why?” causes me to do the same, but now my questioning and introspection are tempered by a lifetime of experiences, choices, and decisions – and I see that despite my age, there is still much of life that is a mystery.

There are times, when like the prophet Jeremiah, I despair:

“The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful,
a puzzle that no one can figure out.”

But I, God, search the heart
and examine the mind.
I get to the heart of the human.
I get to the root of things.
I treat them as they really are,
not as they pretend to be.”

Jeremiah 17: 9 – 10 (MSG)

And like Saint Paul, I question . . .

15 I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t. I do what I don’t want to—what I hate. 16 I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience proves that I agree with these laws I am breaking. 17 But I can’t help myself because I’m no longer doing it. It is sin inside me that is stronger than I am that makes me do these evil things.        

Romans 7: 15 – 17 (TLB)

That is a mystery! And the question becomes, “How do I solve that mystery? How do I become untangled from the web of despair, from knowing what is right yet doing what is wrong?”

Are we human?
Or are we dancer?
My sign is vital
My hands are cold
And I’m on my knees
Looking for the answer
Are we human?
Or are we dancer?

from “Human,” The Killers

 Now those lyrics may seem like a mystery in and of themselves (I’ll touch on that in a moment), but the image is clear: as a mere human, I’m on my knees looking for the answer.

Brandon Flowers, the author of those lyrics above, has said that while he took some grammatical license with his use of the word “dancer,” he was referencing a line from Hunter S. Thompson: “America is raising a generation of dancers, afraid to take one step out of line.”

The image, though, is still quite clear – we’re looking for answers, and I think, afraid to step out of line, to step out in faith and discover that “[God] will instruct [us] and guide [us] along the best pathway for [our] lives.” (Psalm 32: 8, TLB).  The mystery is equivalent to the Gospel – the goodness of God’s grace and His salvation, the good news of who He is and what He has done for us, the expression of His love to and for a sin-damaged world. And why has He done this? Because He loved us, loves us, and continues to love us.

“So God’s blessings are given to us by faith, as a free gift; we are certain to get them . . .”

Romans 4: 16a (TLB)



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