Sometimes Life just doesn't make sense. I was reminded of that yesterday when I looked out my office window to find a black bull (actually, it turned out to be a steer) in my backyard, along with two stray cats. The bull was grazing, the cats were yowling at each other. The dogs were barking. Up at the barn, the horses were whinnying (and Mugsy was smashing up his pen panels so I had to replace one and try to straighten the bent one by running over it with the tractor). Meanwhile, the power went out and I got an email from Bethany saying she was being called into the dean's office at school and she was terrified because she didn't know what she'd did wrong (turns out she was called in to be disciplined for her dying her hair blue … except she hadn't dyed it and it wasn't blue … a case of mistaken identity perhaps?) Then Jayna had forgotten her lunch at home and I forgot to bring it to her at lunchtime when I was picking up Jayden. This all happened within forty minutes of my day yesterday.
This morning the chinchillas were loose having escaped their cage sometime in the night (someone didn't latch the door properly) and Ruby was out of her pen at the barn (someone didn't latch her door properly either) and had made a mess of the hay. And now I need to do our taxes.
But the thing that heaviest on my heart this morning is that a wonderful friend who's been in the hospital has become unresponsive and the doctors don't expect her to live.
And so I grapple with the mystery of God … and I realize, yet again, that I have no answers.
So return to the story of Mary, Jesus' mother, and ponder the shepherds' visit after Jesus was born. And I find a bit of the peace I need this morning in embracing the mystery of a God like this.
Here is a bit from WRESTLING WITH WONDER that is helping me today...
Having No Answers
So often we think that the closer we are to Christ, the more answers we must have. But Mary teaches us that is not necessarily true. The shepherds have no questions, no doubts, no wonderings. But Mary does. The one who has carried him in her womb, held him in her arms, is the one who has no answers. She is the one who ponders the paradoxes and treasures them in her heart.
She is called to live with the mystery of a messiah who is already so different from what she could have imagined. She ponders and treasures the mystery of things that cannot yet make sense.
The question is, will we? One scholar points out, “The Holy Spirit does not overshadow Mary to give her divine insight to understand what everything means. It is sometimes hard to see what God is doing when one is living in the midst of the events.”
So why is it that so often we feel we need to make explanations for what God is doing in our lives and in the lives of those around us? If the shepherds came to us, would we explain why the babe was in a feeding trough? Would we excuse the stink, the poverty, the rough rags and splintered wood? Would we spout platitudes or deny the strangeness of what is true?
Would we say:
It’s not really that bad. (It’s not really a feeding trough.)
I don’t mind. (I didn’t want a real room.)
God is good, so I have nothing to complain about. (These aren’t really rags.)
What if instead we saw God for who he really is? The God who provides only a trough for his own Son’s crib. The God who sends shepherds to a baby wrapped in rags. The God who leaves heaven to become a baby in poverty. The God who does things in our lives that we don’t understand, that don’t seem to make sense, that aren’t supposed to … yet.