Yesterday I had the opportunity to take a wagon ride (yes, a real wagon pulled by horses) through the deepest valley in Wisconsin. Sure, I will admit, it was not very deep at all compared to the other valleys I could have traveled through. But, the depth of the valley was not what got me. The walls, made of sandstone, had been carved away by the melting glacier waters many a year ago. One particular place along that valley held the meetings of Native American tribes many years ago. Over eighty years ago, the first people to actually tour the valley walked on foot though the stone encased area, carving their own names somewhere along their journey to signify they had been there. I wanted so much to reach out and touch the walls that surrounded me, to lay my hands on the walls that many hands had touched in the past. Part of me did not even want to be in the wagon; I wanted to walk in the footsteps of those before me. If I listened closely, I could hear the whispers of generations past still echoing off the walls and grasping for the next people that we bound to walk through there.
The feeling is everywhere for me, whether I am walking through antique shops, museums, ghost towns, old buildings, historical documents, history channel recount expositions, the field that belonged to my relatives that are now in Heaven, the trees of a forest that are old and moaning, the mountains that hold mysterious cabins and homes that are not always occupied, the old and abandoned lighthouses; the list goes on and on. Every time I go into one of those ancient places or hear the history of something similar, I want to linger in the moment; I want to let my mind wonder and explore all the possibilities of who and what those people were. What were their thoughts when they walked through this place or experienced this event?
In a world that is always striving to accomplish and develop the new and the better, in a society that is always pushing to know every answer and every piece of logic, I just want to go find a mystery; I want to find something that is not answered according to the book, that cannot be fully known for anyone during their time here on this earth. I want a mystery; I want something I can puzzle over and imagine; I want something that I know the truth about, but can still discover something new every second I think on it. I want something that does not have a logical and planned out answer, something that does not work the same for everyone. I want something special, divine, mysterious, inviting, enticing, captivating, solid, real, and as ancient as time itself.
And guess what? I have that. I have had that. I will have that. And He is right in front of me. He is the Lord. Now, some of you may say that God is not a museum or an ancient house or an antique. You are right; by definition He is not. But, He is a mystery. He cannot be fully explained in a single setting nor in a life time. He is not a by-the-book type of God; He loves to work in everyone's hearts in different ways and at different times. See, God is not science; He is not a logical being that was created at some point in this life. His origins are a mystery. His purpose in every little detail in life is a mystery. His ability to know all of our thoughts and every detail on this planet and in the universe is a mystery. He, the Lord Himself, is one large and never-ending puzzle defining truth itself. That is what I search for and desire. That, I believe, is what every human being searches for and desires.
We all have a heart for the mysterious. Sure, we put all of this effort into finding out the answers to everything around us, but the truth be told, we are not looking for the answers so much as we are looking for experiencing and uncovering a mystery. People are out there looking for the answers to a deep longing, a longing that they cannot satisfy. They are looking for solutions, but pretty soon, those solutions represent nothing but loss to those people. They get their solutions, but they keep searching. And then they feel that they have come up empty and dry because they have not found the solution they were searching for. In reality, they were not looking for a solution or an answer. They were looking for something bigger, deeper, fulfilling, and mysterious; something were all the nuts and bolts could not be seen right away.
A recent survey said the most people in today's generation prefer older church styles, buildings, and services. A rise in the interest for national monuments, historical museums and tours have also been uncovered in the modern generation. There are people out there searching for a mystery and for an history that cannot be fully explained. And folks, we have that mystery. As soon as we, as Christians, tap into the Lord and the Spirit, we become mysterious to the world. Our actions cannot be predicted by the world's standards. Our devotion to something not of this world cannot be explained fully. Our passion for people and for the Spiritual continues to grow. Yet, with all of this mystery, we advocate and cling to one truth. If there are people out there searching for something set apart from the world and something so mysterious that it just cannot be fully explained, then why are we, as Christians, trying to become of the world? Why are we seeking to make ourselves no different from the rest of those around us? Why do we put so much effort into trying to explain to those that complain about us that we are just like them?
Folks, we are not like them. We are different. We do not have to do as the world does and hang out with the people of the world in their ways. See, Jesus had a unique way of touching people. He was set apart from the world in every way. He conducted Himself completely different, yet did not shy away from talking and working with those around Him. The mystery of Who He was drew people to Him. The differences, the unexplainable differences, in His manners were like a magnet. Though mystery was only one aspect of Christ that acted like a magnet, it was a powerful aspect indeed, one that we should naturally hone the closer we become to Christ.
So, the next time our hearts long to go out and watch some movie we do not agree with in order to prove we are just like our friends, let us instead stand firm on our difference from the world. Next time a friend comes up and tells us that we are too withdrawn from the world because of our music choice or our decision to not laugh at crude jokes, rejoice in our difference from the world. Always remember and live upon the distinction between being in the world and being of the world; always be on the lookout for the subtleties in our thoughts that lead us to become more of the world rather than simply in it. Dare to live radically and boldly and let the mysterious surround your entire life.