For years Frederica Mathewes-Green has contemplated the mystery of God and its meaning in our lives. She says this about the simple prayer featured in her book The Jesus Prayer: "If you open yourself in humility and call on the name of Jesus, all kinds of things can happen and you can grasp the mysterious complexities of the presence of God at deeper and deeper levels." And yet she acknowledges that much about our mysterious God is simply beyond our understanding. That doesn't mean we should give up on knowing him—not knowing him through the cleverness of a detective, but with the humility of a servant. Today's Christian Woman talked with Frederica about what it means to acknowledge the mysterious nature of God and to worship one whose ways are higher than our own.
What does it mean to say God is mysterious?
When people hear mystery, they sometimes think of mystery stories, like detective novels, where there's an answer that we don't know yet. Or they think of mystery as a puzzle with a missing piece. Instead, when we see our God as a God of mystery, we mean God is beyond comprehension. That mystery is so profound, so complex, that the human mind cannot contain it. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, "He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end." Humans have this tantalizing ability to conceive of something they can't understand.
Sometimes people get angry at the idea of mystery. They think it's a gyp or not fair for God to withhold some of the information. When we see suffering we don't understand, we wonder why God doesn't tell us the reason for it. But it helps to realize our brains just aren't big enough to grasp all the reasons.1