Part 1: Living A Mystery
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”(Matthew 6:33–34 NIV)
One of my favorite TV shows of all time is Lost. I am a huge fan because I think it taps into all of the mysteries in this world, it asks fundamental questions about free will, and it has characters that actually develop and grow as the plot progresses. But what I have learned to love about Lost, many people hate. They can’t handle the fact that there are polar bears on the island. This is, of course, because polar bears don’t live on tropical islands. People also don’t like the mysterious whispers that exist right before the “others” show up, the weird weather patterns on the island, the fact that some of the characters travel through time, and the minor detail that you can “move the island.” The main reasons why people don’t watch Lost boil down to either “It’s too unrealistic” or “I don’t understand it.” But my reply to you Lost-haters out there would be: That’s the point!
It is a well-known fact that J.J. Abrams has his fingerprints all over Lost. It is also a well-known fact that Abrams loves the idea of mystery because of a Magic Mystery Box his grandfather bought him as a child that he’s never opened. But most people are not like Abrams. Abrams made commented on this “mystery box” saying, “It represents hope. It represents potential. Mystery boxes are everywhere in what I do. That blank page is a magical box. What are stories but mystery boxes?”
I am like most people in that I usually try to remove any mystery that exists in my life. If there is a question, I want it answered; If there is a spoiler, I want to read it; If there is a loose end, I want it tied; If there is a present, I want it opened. I rarely savor and embrace mystery in my personal life. This is why Chris Seay in his new book called The Gospel According to Lost says, “A story experienced without the unknown would be damaged, but we sometimes fail to patiently page through novels to let stories unfold in their own time because ultimately we are creatures who crave the safety of knowing what is going to happen, the comfort of a mystery resolved.”
Last week our Life Group was discussing Jesus’ words in Matthew 6 and why this is such a challenge for us. I have discovered that I remove mystery from my life because I believe this will bring me safety and security. “Just tell me how it ends so I can have the security of knowing what’s coming my direction.” But Jesus’ words confront my insecurities and meet my lack of faith head on. I love how Eugene Peterson paraphrases these famous words uttered by Christ: “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” And this is the challenge of living a life of faith: will we decide to live by faith and not by sight, or will we continue to work feverishly to remove all mystery from our life so we can sleep better at night?
I love what Chris Seay goes on to say in his book: “We were created from mystery to live in mystery—to trek an adventure of faith—but instead of embracing the process, we stir and squirm until we find an answer to anchor us, to make us feel safe.” What does it even mean to be “a living mystery” rather than simply “living a mystery?” Well, you’ll just have to wait for me to post Part 2 next week to find out what I think.