Puzzle or Mystery?

Daily Devotional – I’m Normal.™  I AM Ministries

“To promote Godly living in a culture committed to destroying it”

Normal I AM

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Puzzle or Mystery?

What’s the difference between a puzzle and a mystery? Is there even a clear distinction? And if a difference exists, what are the practical or spiritual implications? I think there is a big difference, with much of life being a puzzle contrasted with much of our spiritual side being a mystery. The net result is unbelievers tend to look at God in terms of being a puzzle to solve, whereas believers consider Him to be a mystery.

Solving a puzzle relies heavily on having sufficient information. When pieces are missing, we lack the keys to determine the answer. Once we have sufficient information, the pieces are often easy to assemble and a clear picture is formed. Mysteries work the opposite way – they require judgment and the assessment of uncertainty, and, oddly, are often compounded by an overwhelming amount of information. Thus, puzzles come to satisfying conclusions; mysteries often don’t. Puzzles are solved based on your skill; mysteries require patience until they resolve on their own.

For example, when the Apollo 13 astronauts were headed back from the moon, conserving electrical power was crucial to survival. Ken Mattingly, who was scheduled to be aboard but was grounded unexpectedly, solved the puzzle regarding the correct sequence required to restart the electrical system and computers, a very clear and satisfying ending. In contrast, the events in Iraq that would follow the toppling of Saddam Hussein were a mystery beforehand, with much remaining unknown and still in flux, with much of what is known being unsatisfying.

From the spiritual perspective, unbelievers are often on a quest for information. As with scientists, engineers, or astronauts, unbelievers often think if they collect enough data or other information they will be able to put all the pieces of the puzzle in place. Once assembled, they assume the picture will be crystal clear and they can make a determination whether they should believe in God.

In contrast, believers tend to view God as a mystery. Despite the fact we have the Bible, His Holy Word, and have had a visit by His Son, Jesus Christ, we do not know everything about Him. Whereas the Bible contains vast amounts of information and insights, in many situations our knowledge spawns more questions than it answers. This syndrome is anathema to those trying to solve a puzzle. Nevertheless, the solution to the God mystery can only come through faith, not garnering additional information.

There are many mysteries in the Bible. One could start with, How did God create the Heavens and the Earth? According to physics, man can neither create matter nor destroy it, yet God had no trouble creating the matter and energy that compose the Universe. How did God breathe life into Adam, whom He formed from dust (Genesis 2:7), and is this a puzzle or a mystery? Moreover, even if we had more information, would we even understand His ways of imparting life?

God gave Abraham and Sarah a child long after Sarah was barren, another mystery. God parted the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to pass, a hotly contested mystery. Jesus did miracle after miracle – raising the dead, healing the sick, driving out demons, and making the blind see – all of which are mysteries. Yet Jesus indicated these mysteries should cause us to make a leap of faith (Matthew 11:4-6, John 20:29, Revelation 1:3). Then there is Jesus’ incarnation – how can one be simultaneously God and man?

In contrast, God’s plan of salvation is a puzzle. The Bible tells us Jesus is the only Way into Heaven (John 14:6, Acts 4:12, 1 Timothy 2:5). We can glean all the information we need to know in order to spend eternity with our Heavenly Father by reading His Word. We have the proof of Jesus’s miracles along with His death and resurrection to prove it. Yet the mystery of why God’s love is so great that He wants to save sinners remains. The mystery of exactly what Heaven will be like also remains a mystery, as do the events and timing of Jesus Christ’s second coming. But the puzzle of Heaven is solved – Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and our only Savior.

It is normal to look for God, but your chances of finding Him vary depending upon your decision to treat Him as a puzzle or a mystery. If you are looking to solve the God “problem” as a puzzle, there exists only a small chance you will find Him because you will never gather all the pieces. If you are willing to accept His evidence presented in the Bible and embrace the lingering mysteries, you will be able to make the necessary leap of faith to gain access to His kingdom. He wants your faith, not your solution. He has already figured out all the pieces of the salvation puzzle. If you wish to go to Heaven when you die, ask yourself today whether you look at God as a puzzle or a mystery.

In His love and service,

Jeff Myers
A servant of Jesus Christ


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