This past week, however, I looked at mystery from a different angle. For the first time, really, I felt a sense of gratitude for what it is that we don’t know.
Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”
Exodus 33: 21-23
We learn in Exodus that there is mystery in the visage of God. He has lovingly shielded Moses from a view of His face, because we are told that seeing the face of God would be fatal. (vs. 20)
So inside this mystery—how the spirit of God might manifest physically—we learn that Moses has been safeguarded. There’s protection in that mystery.
How about the mystery of how angels and demons interact… and how they might engage with us in ways we cannot see or know? We are told very little in the Bible about the exact nature of spiritual warfare in the heavenly realms. My professor, Dr. Ronald B. Allen, has said that he believes this remains mysterious because “we might not get out of bed in the morning” if we knew what was really going on around us.
Is this, perhaps, another mystery that protects us?
How about the mysterious inspired authorship of certain Psalms? I was re-reading Psalm 91 this past week and was reflecting on a comment Dr. Allen made about certain Psalms that lack attribution. How a rendering of some psalms without certain specifics, particularly those that comfort us in times of trouble, could be God’s way of gifting us with a message that readily transcends ancient context, allowing us to more easily apply the truth to our own lives.
I noticed for the first time this week that Psalm 91 is not attributed. We don’t know who wrote it. We don’t know the specific circumstances or situation. We can’t form in our minds a clear picture of a scenario involving known ancients. But we can close our eyes and very easily make this incredibly comforting Psalm "our own" as we cross the faulty bridges of life. Knowing that “… he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways….”
Psalm 91 was a principal source of comfort to me during the cancer journey. I encountered it several times during the most difficult trials. It stirred my soul and gave me hope. This week, I had one more reason to be thankful for this Psalm; I could thank God for its mystery.
I have to wonder, with respect to God’s economy, if sometimes less really is more.
(Photo by inkswamp; see http://flickr.com/photos/inkswamp/ for restrictions.)