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He has made everything beautiful and appropriate in its time. He has also planted eternity [a sense of divine purpose] in the human heart [a mysterious longing which nothing under the sun can satisfy, except God]—yet man cannot find out (comprehend, grasp) what God has done (His overall plan) from the beginning to the end.Ecclesiastes 3:11 AMP
Mysterium tremendum is defined as an “awe inspiring mystery.”
Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that God has put this sense of mystery into each of our hearts. It is a longing to discover something much deeper than what we can perceive with our eyes, and a sense of destiny that can’t be satisfied by achievements or accumulations.
This mysterium tremendum is meant to awaken the Sherlock Holmes in all of us and send us on a journey of discovery.
Looking back on my upbringing I (Brian) always had an affinity for the mystery of the unknown. When I was a young kid, my favorite family board game to play was Clue. It’s a classic game of whodunit. I enjoyed the mystery involved in following clues and putting pieces together for the “big reveal.”
This is the same sense of mystery that drew me to the Bible in search of a deeper connection to the spiritual world and God.
Yet as I’ve grown older in life, that sense of excitement with the mystery of the unknown has given way to routines, predictability, and an effort to take the guesswork out of life. As responsibilities have grown in my life, so has my distaste towards mystery.
I find that the more you have in life, the more you think you have to lose. Fear has changed me. It’s created in me much more of a desire to have control. As the scripture below describes, I no longer look through eyes of wonder and belief for what God may be doing:
“Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!Matthew 6:22 MSG
Conversely, I (Rose) learned from a young age to leave nothing to chance. Growing up, my motto in life was, “Success is when preparation meets opportunity.”
This motto “worked” for me for many years of my life. It made me an overachiever. I made meticulous efforts to prepare myself for every possible scenario I could think of, giving me this sense of control, and in my mind, eliminating any chance for mystery. I viewed mystery as dangerous, something to be feared and removed.
Yet as I transitioned through different life stages of marriage, pregnancy, and motherhood, I learned to appreciate the beauty of mystery, such as a baby growing inside me.
While the unpredictability of being a mother has been scary at times, some of the most magical moments have been filled with mystery. I’ll never forget the incredible joy of seeing my baby for the first time and the satisfaction I felt when this little creature who couldn’t talk innately knew I was her mother.
We all grow up with different viewpoints on life, and our experiences influence the way we feel about the “unknown.” Writing this has been an effort for us to reclaim the excitement and inspiration of the mystery of God.
In doing so, we discovered four types of mystery that are essential aspects of our relationship with God.
The mystery of discovering God
“The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.”1 Samuel 3:21 NIV
One of the most exciting things about building a relationship with God is discovering him for yourself. God wants us to find him (Acts 17:27). God wants us to know him (Psalm 25:14). And, God wants to reveal himself to us, as we learn from this scripture.
Think back to the first person you liked in high school. Do you remember the excitement you had discovering new things about him or her? If you got to know that individual, I’m certain that it felt like time flew by as you learned new things about them.
This is the same mystery that is meant to drive us to grow deeper in our relationship with God as we continue to learn new things about him.
I can vividly remember the day that God revealed to me his sense of humor. I was in San Francisco visiting some family when a close friend and I ventured off in their neighborhood to a secluded area overlooking the entire city. It took a little trespassing to get to this spot, but the view was well worth it.
As I was taking in the scenery, my friend and I decided to pray. Sparing you some of the details of what happened, my friend prayed specifically about something humorous to both of us. Then almost immediately afterward, a highly improbable incident happened (in someone’s yard we were overlooking) that was exactly in line with what my friend had just prayed about!
I can say with certainty that God “played a joke on us” that day, and I learned an invaluable lesson in that instant – God has jokes! And his timing is impeccable!
This moment opened up my eyes to a side of God that I never knew existed. My relationship with him changed, and I let down more with him. I learned that God wasn’t as uptight as I initially presumed and that he enjoyed hearing me pray about the things in my life that may seem trivial. I learned if something is important to me, it’s important to God.
- How has God surprised you by revealing something to you about himself?
- Do you approach your relationship with God with a sense of curiosity about him?
The mystery of discovering your destiny
“It is the Lord who directs your life, for each step you take is ordained by God to bring you closer to your destiny. So much of your life, then, remains a mystery!”Proverbs 20:24 TPT
In a great mystery, the excitement is in the unknown. However, as much as we like to watch and be entertained by mysteries, we don’t always like the “unknown” when it comes to our own lives or future.
For example, do you ever feel like the risk of making the “wrong choice” on seemingly monumental decisions (like where to go to college, what to major in, what career to pursue, who to date, et cetera) can be stressful enough to make you break out in hives?
An incredibly reassuring promise from God is that he has the roadmap to get us to where we are meant to be, our destiny.
How do you feel about this mysterious journey with God?
Two memorable moments of mine growing up were both fraught with mystery and I responded to them in very different ways. The first was when I went to a haunted Halloween maze in elementary school. I thought it was going to be a lot of fun and I was looking forward to seeing my friends, but I didn’t anticipate creepy characters jumping out at me and chasing me.
I was gripped with fear at every corner. I started holding up the line, wanting others to go ahead of me. I needed my sister to coax me along to get through it to the end.
The second memorable moment was quite the opposite. My family and I went to Disneyland for the first time and I got to ride Space Mountain. I had been on roller coasters before, but what made this ride so unique and exciting was that it was in the dark. You could not anticipate whether you were taking a turn to the right or left, or if and when you were going take a big dip. I found the mystery of uncertainty exhilarating.
God’s journey to discovering your destiny is like riding Space Mountain. You never know what’s around the corner. But rather than dreading what may happen, you can decide to embrace the exhilarating mystery of where God is taking you.
- Are you filled with wonder on this journey to discovering your destiny, because you trust God (Isaiah 42:10 MSG)?
- Or do you relate more to being in a Halloween maze, petrified to move forward because you’re afraid of what you might encounter (Psalm 32:8-9 TPT)?
The mystery of self-discovery
“Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.”Matthew 16:17-18 MSG
God’s journey toward our destiny also involves uncovering the mystery of who we are.
How does God show you who you are? Let’s learn from some of Jesus’ interactions with Peter:
- God pushes you beyond what you think you’re capable of (Luke 5:4-5).
- God sees beyond your doubts and fears (Luke 5:6-10).
- God entrusts you with what is precious to him (Matthew 16:17-19).
- God believes in you when you fall short (Luke 22:31-32).
- God engages the heart to bring to the surface what lies beneath (John 21:15-17).
An inspiring relationship with God is one where we allow God to reveal new things to us about himself, and we allow him to reveal new things to us about ourselves. Jesus helps us to discover our true identity, just as he helped Peter. He helps us learn who we are and who we are destined to be.
A great illustration of this comes from one of my personal favorite holiday movies, “Rise of the Guardians.” In one scene, Jack Frost is trying to figure out why the Man In the Moon has chosen him to be a new Guardian of children. Saint Nick helps him by sharing that the journey of discovery must go within, into discovering his center.
- Do you know your center (Rise of the Guardians)?
- Are you afraid of allowing God to reveal who you really are? If so, why?
- How can you continue to pursue and allow God to show your true identity?
The mysterious power of faith
“ That way you would have faith because of God’s power and not because of human wisdom.  We do use wisdom when speaking to people who are mature in their faith. But it isn’t the wisdom of this world or of its rulers, who will soon disappear.  We speak of God’s hidden and mysterious wisdom that God decided to use for our glory long before the world began. The rulers of this world didn’t know anything about this wisdom. If they had known about it, they would not have nailed the glorious Lord to a cross.  But it is just as the Scriptures say, “What God has planned for people who love him is more than eyes have seen or ears have heard. It has never even entered our minds!”1 Corinthians 2:5-9 CEV
Sometimes we don’t like mystery because it brings up fear and anxiety. Mystery forces us to completely follow God into the unknown.
I have spent most of my life trying to “figure everything out” with my mind to avoid being in a situation I don’t want to be in and to have a sense of control. I try to think through every possible scenario so I won’t get caught off guard.
However, what this scripture talks about is that God’s plan for us is beyond what our mind can consider or conceive.
God’s plans are much greater than we can imagine – they are not limited by our minds. And so we have to live by faith because God’s plan is not something we can see.
Having faith in God’s plan takes trust in God over ourselves, and releasing our desire to control things. When we choose to live this way, we won’t get bored because God is always trying to take us into the impossible.
“Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen Your people. Fill their souls with the power of Your Spirit  so that through faith the Anointed One will reside in their hearts. May love be the rich soil where their lives take root. May it be the bedrock where their lives are founded…  Now to the God who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in us”Ephesians 3:16-17,20 Voice
Does this scripture describe you? It should. This is the mysterious power of faith. Somehow and some way, through growing in our faith in God, we tap into God’s awe-inspiring power.
This is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead and parted the Red Sea. This is the same power that changes the world. This is the same power that we have access to through faith.
We hope these thoughts and scriptures have helped you as they’ve helped us on our journey to discover the excitement of God’s awe-inspiring mysteries.
- Reflect: When was the last time you stood in amazement with something God did, or revealed to you, or you discovered about him?
- Reveal: What is your attitude towards the mystery of the unknown? Are you allowing God to reveal to your true identity?
- Remember: How can you practically change to grow your faith and experience God’s power working through you?