Daily Gratitude Year 4-Day 180: Today, I am grateful for a good mystery.
I will never forget my first mystery. "The Secret of the Wooden Lady" by Carolyn Keene. It was my first Nancy Drew mystery and I received it for my birthday in 2nd grade. I was hooked! I couldn't get enough. Thank goodness the school & public library had a great collection.
The books always included learning, too. I knew nothing about ships when I started reading "The Secret of the Wooden Lady". The story line was educational beyond the fun of the young investigators solving a puzzle. I still enjoy a good mystery with twists, turns and even a red herring.
Because we were given creative minds, we can enjoy solving a puzzle. Doctors call it diagnosis. Artists call it exploring different mediums. Carpenters and builders use math and measures...which are a mystery to me. Chefs make and bake a recipe with endless tweaks until they solve the mystery of what makes something "The Best Ever" whatever. Gardeners dig into everything from soil type to ph balance to discover the perfect combination for food or flowers. Mysteries allow us to discover. Discovery is thrilling.
One of the great mysteries of this life is God's grace. After all of these years, I still find it amazing and awe evoking. I found a new quote:
"I do not at all understand the mystery of grace - only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us. - Ann Lamott
Christ meets us where we are but doesn't leave us there. God is the father who runs to the prodigal. "The God Who Sees" a hurting, thirsty and scared Hagar and calms her fears. He was Esther's courage. He was David's restraint when he could have killed Saul, his enemy, in the cave. He is the God who rescues in the storm...the one the wind and waves obey.
He meets us in the messiness of life and patiently picks us up, cleans us up and leads us on from there. We are works in progress and He is patient. The mystery of His grace can be investigated, but why he loves us with such a crazy, relentless love and passion...this is beyond my understanding...but by his grace, it is not beyond our experience.
I love the passion of Paul. He had to appear a little crazy, until you get to know him. Okay, after you know him better, he is still a little crazy, but in the best way possible. He has a fire in his soul that a prison cell can't dampen. He did some great evangelism with his jailers... who were a captive audience to the captive Paul. God does have a sense of humor. So does Paul. Paul's transformation is so radical that it is a mystery to many. He tries to solve the puzzle for them:
Paul, in his days as "Saul", was ultra and passionately religious. Religion was his excuse for his bad behaviors as he threw his weight around in religious and political circles to stamp out Christianity. Enter, Jesus. Confront Saul. Blindness leads to clear vision. Paul changes from the inside out.
Who was this man, Saul or Paul? Both. God used Saul's knowledge of the laws in scripture and his position as a Roman citizen to Paul's advantage. I will forever be awed by a God who met him on that road to Damascus and "traded him" to the Jesus team. He saw his passion not his problems. When Christ revealed himself to Saul/Paul, the man could not deny the truth. The question of what made men willing to die rather than deny Jesus was solved for Paul at that moment.
Conviction, crisis, confession and a change. That was Paul's path. The mystery of the Messiah was revealed and Paul embraced a truth he could not longer deny. As Saul, religion had driven him to murder those who believed differently.
As Paul, he had been freed from religious chains through Christ and found new life. Abundant life. Relationship beyond religion. He was free to such a point that prison changes were not distressing to him. No big deal! He would and could love his neighbors... Jews and Gentiles(Non-Jews). His soul experienced a freedom that earthly chains could not contain.
Today, I am grateful for a good mystery.