One of my favorite creators today is JJ Abrams, for a number of reasons. Yes, he had a strong hand in the formation of some of my favorite TV shows ever– Alias, Fringe, LOST. Yes, he is becoming a household name and has rebooted Star Trek and soon shall have his impact on the Star Wars franchise. Yes, he does like his lens flares. But more than that, Abrams has an appreciation for MYSTERY.
I love this video, because once I watched it I realized that it explained why I loved LOST so much. Yes, there were plot issues and character development problems, and yes, I understand many people didn’t like how it turned out, but if there’s one thing you can be sure of, it’s this– You never really knew what was coming next. And the first season, which many people regard as the best, was so great because of all the unanswered questions: What’s that monster? What’s in the hatch? What’s with those numbers? Why are these people here?
As time went on, however, people wanted more and more answers. And whenever they got an answer, they had more questions and wanted more answers. And when they didn’t get answers (or didn’t get answers they didn’t like) they greatly objected (and at times, I admit, I was probably among them). But the thing about LOST is this– it’s a show of questions, not answers. You end up more lost than you started off (wait, maybe that’s why it’s called… oh…!)
I wish more people had an appreciation for mystery. It’s why the best horror movies don’t show the monster, or at least they wait til the end. The best part is the anticipation, the unknown. As soon as you see the monster, well, obviously that’s CGI, and why does it have arms there, and that color is just weird…
We live in an information age. We have access to things that people just decades ago couldn’t have imagined. See pictures of Mars. Find nearly any song you want. Hear stories from around the world. In this information age, we crave information, we crave the access to that information. In fact, these days many people consider access to the Internet a basic human right.
We want answers. We want information. We want access to anything and everything, and we want it now.
But what about the things that can’t be measured, that shouldn’t be known, at least not know?
I’m speaking of the mysteries of God.
You see, I feel that too often we regard God as another subject that we can dissect and grasp in fifteen easy steps. Look God up on Wikipedia. Write down all the facts about God from the Bible. Look at all the great thoughts of theologians and philosophers, artists and prophets of all ages. Compile all of that information and what do you have? A thimble.
Even better, if thimbles could sew and had fingers and accidentally poked their fingers while sewing and owned thimbles to protect their nimble thimble fingers, all our information and knowledge about God would fit in a thimble’s thimble.
And that’s speaking of all of humanity. What about you? What about me?
3 Pounds (or 1.5 kilograms). That’s the average size of the human brain. That is the tool we use to do, well, almost everything. This post about your brain is being deciphered and understood by your brain. Spooky, eh? Yes, the human brain is phenomenal. Yes, the pursuit of knowledge is a worthwhile pursuit. Do not let me be misunderstood. But I want to offer this idea– Eventually, you just can’t know that.
You can study a historical figure, read original sources, go to where she lived, study her skeleton, learn all you can about her– but eventually, you will reach a dead end. You want to know what she thought about human slavery? You just can’t know that. You want to know if she had an affair? Sorry, you can’t know that. You want to read her journals, which disintegrated ages ago? Sorry, you can’t.
You can study an object in outer space, visit the best research labs, sent probes into space, read data and interpret information, compare historical records with modern observation, but eventually, you just can’t know that. Is there water there? Sorry, you can’t know that. How old is it? Sorry, you can’t know that. How many asteroids have flown through it? Sorry, you can’t know that.
Now, I realize that I am a naysayer, a negative Nancy, the embodiment of everyone whoever told you “You can’t do that!” So I will give a little ground. Maybe you can know that. Maybe you’ll find a journal that has been preserved over time. Maybe you can send a probe and discover if there is water there.
But God is not merely a historical figure. God is not some object in outer space. Yes, God has come and given us his name, I AM WHO I AM, that we might know Him. Yes, God has come in the human form of Jesus, that we might touch Him. Yes, God has come and dwelt in those who believe in Him in an unfathomable unexplainable way.
But God is so beyond all that.
If the fibers of fabric in your shirt gained consciousness, could they ever fully know you? They are with you at all times, know where you go and where you stay. But still, no.
If you are writing a story, could the characters of said story reach beyond the computer screen (or the notebook page) and grasp you? Could they know you? They might know secrets about you, seeing as you cast a character’s brother as a villain and the main character wet his bed until he was fourteen. But still, no.
The mysteries of God are not merely locked doors, brick walls, dead ends. No, they are gifts of anticipation, of imagination, of wonder and excitement. In the horror movie, the monster is revealed and the audience is let down. Fortunately, God is no monster and life is not about cheap thrills. Instead, God is good and the day we finally see Him will be a day unimaginable by the greatest artists of all time.
There will come a day when we understand certain mysteries. There will come a day when the redeemed of the Lord will see so many things they could not fathom with their earthly mind. A new color? New senses? New dimensions? Though I recognize this isn’t the original intent for this text, I believe this verse from 1 Corinthians 2 says it best: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”
In the New Testament, most of the writings that mention “mystery” are speaking of Christ, of the Son of God Incarnate, coming to redeem the world from sin. This mystery is one that no one could have guessed, no one could have known. And I believe that God is no one-trick pony. I believe the blessed mystery of knowing Jesus Christ on earth is simply a foretaste of the myriads of mysteries awaiting us on the other side.
1 Corinthians 13 speaks of knowledge. Now once again, I want to say this. I believe the pursuit of knowledge is a worthy direction of life. The things we have, the things we know could not have come to fruition without the blessed souls of those who kept asking, kept wondering, kept seeking knowledge. I hope that you continue to do so as well. But 1 Corinthians 13 tells the truth:
“As for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
We must not see knowledge as a possession, something to cram into a brains and claim for ourselves. We must take this view of knowledge– that Understanding is “standing under” something greater, gaining information and appreciation for it, but never fully grasping it, not attempting to “stand upon” knowledge as king but to serve under Wisdom and Knowledge, gaining benefits unknown.
There are things to know. Seek them. Know them. There are other things unknown, seek them until you can’t any longer, and rest in acceptance of the unknown. Then there is God. Seek him, but not for selfish reasons. Know Him, but not as a subject but as a person. And continue in that pursuit and knowledge, until that day comes… that we shall see face-to-face.