God is Mystery

15 June 2016

God works in mysterious ways! I used to think I could figure this thing out; this is what God does, this is not what God does. When I was young there was a lot God did. Then I got older and I could not figure out what was left for God after human reason, creativity and chance were factored in. No wonder the American founders were all deists, God as clockmaker could be a very attractive formula for this understanding.

But for some time now these neat categories have not been satisfying to me. I still get frustrated when people pronounce with authority “God is/was here, God was/is not here” like this person has a pipeline to the mind and heart of the Almighty. I am not so arrogant. But equally these days I am not so sure how God works in and through chance. People curiously use the word “grace” to describe this process, suggesting I think that God works in these matters for God purposes. I always thought grace was a gift, the notion of love being a given, not something we earn. But I am open to learning how this church doctrine of grace affects our understanding of God’s ultimate purposes.

There are moments when I can see and feel that what is has come by way of reason or chance or nature ebbs and flows of life. There is some sense in this, things can be explained and this brings some peace of mind. But surely there are moments we can acknowledge where things occur that don’t make sense, that appear to come from nowhere, where mysterious presence and insight are part of the picture and there is no other response than “thank you”. Frankly I think I missed these in the past because I confused this experience with the way movies often end, where the rough edges, incompleteness of life, the hanging question, these are all resolved. But that is not where the mystery comes, the challenge remains, to be blunt we still all die, we still hurt and we still experience pain. But within these challenges there is light, there is love and there is unexpected wisdom. Thanks be to God.

I was out visiting parishioners yesterday, warmly received by an older couple. As we talked they shared a story about a granddaughter who was born in China, adopted by their son and his wife. Well…this girl is the same age as my daughter, born in the same city, two Chinese girls born within 2 months of each other. We talked about these two 15 year olds, sharing stories and common experiences. The room changed as we shared this information, our bodies shifted on the chairs, we smiled. No, we beamed. There was an oneness to our time together. Who would have predicted this? I don’t know how this all occurs or comes to be. I just know I am open to it and delighted by it.