Summary: Pastor Dave looks at five mysteries that confronted Gideon in Judges chapter 6 and what we can learn from those mysteries.
Hope is Your Birthright, part 2
Wildwind Community Church
Wildwind’s 6th core value is mystery. I think we live in a world (or at least a society) that has greatly lost touch with mystery. I think many people in our country think that the existence of science has made belief in God unnecessary. Of course it hasn’t even remotely done that. All science can do is observe. Science’s only statements are, “This is what happens” (this is what we’ve been able to observe taking place), and “This is how this happens” (These are the cause and effect connections we’ve been able to observe.) Science can tell us what happens and how it happens. They’ve even gotten good at telling us when things might happen sometimes, but science has not demystified life, in spite of how it sometimes seems. We awake every day into a world that envelopes us in mystery.
When you woke up this morning you had absolutely no idea what was going to happen to you. You could have tripped getting out of your bed and be lying in a hospital or sitting in an ER waiting room right now. You could have awakened with the flu. You could have fallen down your basement stairs. On the good side, you could have realized you forgot to get your mail yesterday and found a check for $10,000. You could have wakened to a surprise from your spouse or kids. Tomorrow you could lose your job. Or get a promotion. And by the end of today, you could be dead – or someone you love could be. Sounds terrible doesn’t it? But it’s true. You don’t have the first clue what life is going to bring to you. The combined knowledge of all the world’s scientists couldn’t begin to put that together for you. You live cluelessly in this world and are under the illusion that you know what’s going on, but you don’t. And you’ve gotten so used to it that you’ve forgotten clueless you really are. The fact is you simply are not aware of most of the things that affect your life in this world. Let’s look at our core value of mystery.
Mystery - We value the mystery of God by acknowledging that he is to be found as much in questions as in answers, seeking as in finding, and doubting as in believing. We will say and do nothing that portrays God as being without mystery. (Job 42:3; Eph. 3:2-9)
We see Job 42:3 as a reference for this core value. Let’s take a look at that and see what we can understand about mystery.
Job 42:3 (NIV)
3 …Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.
Here Job has been suffering, and demanding that God explain to him the reason for all his suffering. But finally, after firing this endless brigade of questions at God, God fires back and says, “Who are you to think you can piece all this together? How would you understand the answer even if I gave it to you?” And Job realizes here that as he’s been asking God all these questions, he hasn’t had the slightest clue what he has been talking about. Job realizes that he has been blowing smoke, that when it comes to understanding God, he brings nothing at all to the table.
That’s mystery. Mystery means that there are things going on around us that we are not aware of, causes and connections we would never fit together. Some mysteries are things we become aware of at some point. But so much happens around us we will NEVER understand. The best scientists on earth can name every chemical and molecule in your body but they can’t tell you why you exist. They can tell you that the feeling of love is this chemical plus that chemical, but they can’t tell you why you’d rush into a burning building to save a stranger when there could be no possible benefit to you or to the human species. They can’t explain your intense desire to matter, to make a difference to someone, for your life to be of some value. None of that is required for the species homo sapiens to continue to propagate.
You are surrounded even now by mystery. Not only do you not know what will happen tomorrow, you don’t know what will happen tonight, or five minutes from now. And somewhere, moving in and behind and through all of this, is God – who knows and understands it all. I realized in preparing for this message that mystery is always where hope begins. If we really understand everything, if this world is really all there is, if there’s nothing beyond any of this, in other words if there is no mystery, there’s little to hope for. After all, what is hope? It’s faith in mystery, isn’t it? Hope is faith that the things that are not known will one day be revealed to us, and that they will be better than the things that are known today. That’s hope. You take the staunchest atheist or the most devout Christian and ask if they have hope. If they answer yes, they are placing faith in mystery. There’s no possible way around that. Do you have hopes for your children? Probably so, but only because their future is a mystery to you and you are placing faith in that mystery to work out in a certain way. Do you have hopes for retirement? That’s faith in mystery. Hopes for the future of our world? That’s faith in mystery. So if you want to be hopeful, if you want to embrace hope, if you want to live into the meaning of our phrase “hope is your birthright,” then you need to be open to mystery – to a sense that all is not as it appears.