A Profound Mystery
By Marty Norman
When I was a child my favorite books were mysteries. Nancy Drew was my all time favorite heroine. “Ransom of the Seven Ships” and “The Curse of Blackmoor Manor” were two of my favorites.
Every week rain or shine, my mother took me to the Skillern’s Drugstore parking lot, where the Fort Worth Library Bookmobile hung out for the day. Taking the steps up into the interior of the bus, I browsed to my heart’s content. Always in search of excitement, I combed the shelves for the newest book in the Nancy Drew series. I could hardly wait to see what she would do next. She was the bravest woman I knew.
Today I am involved in a much bigger mystery than Nancy Drew – the mystery of God. But this time a new chapter is being written every day. Just like my search in the Bookmobile, I can hardly wait to see what he will do in his next series.
A walk with God is a journey of faith, and there is no time better than the present to search out that journey, even when we can’t see past the next curve in the road. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (NIV) God’s presence is a mystery. It just has to be taken on faith.
Asking questions is the best strategy to grow faith. My grandson Strother is three years old. For him, everything is a why. “Why do lady bugs have spots on their back? … Why do we have to go inside for dinner? … Whey does the water drain out of the bathtub and go away?” Everything is a mystery.
Throughout time the mystery of God has revealed itself in a number of ways, in nature, in miracles, in God’s unexplained presence in circumstances. But the clearest revelation came two thousand years ago, on a cold, dark night in December. Everything was business as usual. Shepherds were out in the fields, guarding their sheep by night.
Suddenly the mystery, a bright light shone around them. As they interrupted their usual routine, they watched in awe as angels, descending from heaven, proclaimed the good news. “Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11 (NIV) Immediately they left the sheep in the fields and went to explore this revelation.
One of the things that most amazes me about the story is that the shepherds left immediately and went to Bethlehem to see this thing that the Lord had told them about.
I’m not so sure I would have been so quick. Skeptical in nature, I would probably have drawn up a list of whys for God to answer before I left my flock and took off for Bethlehem.
But no, to Bethlehem they went where they found the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes just as the angel had said. The next part is even more amazing. After they had seen the child, they spread the word concerning all that had been told them. And the scripture says, “And all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” Luke 2:18 (NIV)
The shepherds were messengers. Steeped in faith, they didn’t question the mystery of the angels. They just followed instructions and went to see for themselves. Then they told everyone what they had experienced.
These men encountered a profound mystery. Who can explain why God chose to reveal the birth of his son to shepherds in a field. But choose them he did.
Would it be that more people would question the existence of God, and would search out the mystery of faith like the shepherds? Today there seems to be a resurgence of apologetics, of people asking questions such as “is there a heaven and hell…why do bad things happen to good people…is there evil in the world and what does it look like?” I have heard more sermons on the radio, TV, and church in the last year on these topics than I have heard in all the years combined. The world is searching.
Perhaps, like the shepherds who were the Nancy Drews of their day, shouldn’t we, too, search out the mystery and be prepared to answer questions regarding this profound mystery.
As the Christmas season approaches are we not called out of our fields and away from our flocks to witness to the birth of the savior wrapped in swaddling clothes? Are we not shepherds called to go to those in our fields to testify to what we have seen and heard? What better fields than our neighbors, families, and co-workers to tell of our encounters with the Messiah. We have an opportunity to witness by word, mouth, and deed to his divine presence in our lives.
Who knows why God has chosen us. It is a profound mystery. But choose us he has. There are no better fields than our families to explain why, to proclaim the profound mystery of the birth of his son this Christmas season.