Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens above—what can you do? They are deeper than the depths below—what can you know? Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea. ― Job 11:7-9
Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.” ― Daniel 2:27
The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience. ―Frank Herbert
Without mysteries, life would be very dull indeed. What would be left to strive for if everything were known? ― Charles de Lint
Most of us love a good mystery. The world’s greatest mystery writers, like Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple), and Dashiell Hammett (Nick and Nora Charles and Sam Spade), are masters at weaving spell-binding stories that require especially wise and discerning sleuths to “crack the case.”
This same thing is true in all areas of life.
Men and women across all branches of academic endeavors love a good mystery and have devoted their lives to trying to figure things out for us. For hundreds of years, we have all stood in amazement as these sleuths have solved one intellectual mystery after another, leaving the world better off in the process.
That being said, we sometimes erroneously think that the various branches of academic exploration are going to solve all the mysteries of life. We believe that, given enough time, the geniuses of the world are ultimately going to figure everything out and that nothing will be a mystery after a while.
Stephen Hawking desired to develop “the theory of everything” when he was a rising star in theoretical physics at Cambridge in the 1960’s. His desire to discover a singular, master theory that fully explained and linked together all the physical aspects of the universe was audacious to say the least.
No one is ever going to come up with a “theory of everything” regardless of the field they study.
Try as we might to understand life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, mystery is going to remain an inherent part of everything. No finite human mind can comprehend the infinite, something that is reserved for an all-knowing and all-understanding God. The Apostle Paul was right to observe, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight” (1 Corinthians 3:19).
Our wisest insights into objective reality are foolishness to God, something that far too many geniuses seem to forget.
The most important matters in life will always be shrouded in mystery – God, spirituality, the soul, love and attachment, truth, morality, and a well-lived life. We need to do everything we can to peel back the layers of mystery that in these areas and better understand things as human history moves along, but we never want to lose our sense of wonder about these crucial matters and the mystery that envelopes them.
The human race needs to keep questioning and studying the things that mystify us.
The pursuit of knowledge in an effort to solve as many mysteries as possible is a good thing. Albert Einstein, a pretty smart fellow, said, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.”
When it comes to the most important matter of all, God, I want you to pursue knowing and understanding Him as best you can, but I want you to be okay with the fact that the finite will never fully grasp the infinite.
Nadia Bolz-Weber wisely observed, “I need a God who is bigger and more nimble and mysterious than what I could understand and contrive. Otherwise it can feel like I am worshipping nothing more than my own ability to understand the divine.”
Mystery is your ally, not your enemy.
Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon, said, “Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.” Anais Nin stated, “The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.”
Behind every mystery we solve is another mystery, something that’s not easy to accept at times.
The Apostle Paul accurately observed, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (I Corinthians 13:12). All aspects of life involve a knowing in part and never a knowing in full. When it comes to knowing in full, some of us accept our finite limitations with humility and continue to live in wonder and pursue the truth. Others let their pride get in the way, think they are going to develop a unifying theory of everything, and never come within a million miles of attaining their aspirations.
Munchkins, I want you to always stay in the classroom and pursue a greater understand of things as you go through life. But I want you to be okay with the fact that you will never fully understand anything you study and that mystery is your constant companion along the way.
Harry Emerson Fosdick said, “I would rather live in a world where my life is surrounded by mystery than live in a world so small that my mind could comprehend it.”
That’s the humble, wonder-producing attitude we’re supposed to have in life, an attitude that will give life and vitality to our brief time on the planet. Don’t settle for anything less.