The Jewish New Year has come and gone, yet I never tire of sharing about it with others. Most of you already know the Jewish New Year is not really the name of this holiday—rather it is the Feast of Trumpets. The only holiday without explanation.
In some ways, this holiday is a mystery. Why is it commanded? What is the purpose behind it? More importantly, will people honor it without any explanation? I have been gaining a new perspective of the Feast of Trumpets recently. It is not only prophetic, looking to a future ingathering of God’s people at the sound of the trumpet. It is reflective of our relationship with God, and maybe even life.
We all love a good mystery novel. We especially like it when we follow all the clues with the hero or heroine, and reach a satisfactory ending. The murderer is found, questions are answered, and motives are revealed. But as we read the book or watch the movie, we have to take an awful lot on faith—that the events portrayed before us are really what the author says they are. Sometimes the author leaves out a few critical details, and there is mystery upon mystery. It makes the resolution that much more satisfactory.
In recent years, the genre has changed. The endings are less satisfactory. The answers are murkier. The mystery remains. Some people like such endings better, saying they are truer to life. I hate them—they may be more realistic, but they don’t feed my longing for resolution, wholeness, healing, and things being made right, now, in this world.
The truth is, we all have to live with mystery in our lives. Sometimes it’s the simple mystery of why did God allow something to happen in our lives. Sometimes it’s the more complex mystery—why did a person deliberately deceive us?
I’ve been living with both mysteries for a long time. I have always had many questions about what has happened in my life. For the most part I’ve been satisfied with the resolution offered to me in I Corinthians 13:12
For now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known.
But sometimes I find it hard to wait—I want to know now. Recently, I discovered that my grandmother lied to me about her family. A small point really, that her sister died young—the implication being that she never married. Certainly in family reunions and visits there was never a whisper of her living, having married, or having had 3 children. The mystery is why? I put that together with an odd photograph, and passing words my grandmother said of her father, “My father was the most evil man that ever existed” and “He killed my mother…” though the feeling was her mother died of an illness that somehow was her father’s fault. I’m not really sure what to think.
It’s probably not really important in the bigger scheme of things. My life is not really affected by it. But the child in me wonders why my grandmother lied about her sister to begin with? When she talked about her sister, it seemed to be with great longing, sadness, and love. If my grandmother had nieces and nephews, why would she never talk about them or tell others about them? I’m the last one on earth to really understand the dynamics of multi-children families. I was an only child. It carries through in many of my attitudes. But I have friends with brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, and they all talk about them. Some more than others, but there is no sense of secrecy.
Mulling on these things makes me realize that there are mysteries and secrets in life that we have to learn to live with. But when it comes to God, HE is the revealer of mysteries and secrets. It is truly a wonderful thing. I’ve been looking up verses in the Bible about mystery and find comfort in the words of Daniel to King Nebuchadnezzar:
But there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries (Dan 2:27)
Some mysteries in life, He will reveal, others not. But the truly important things He reveals in His good time. The “mystery” of the salvation of all Israel (Rom. 11:25) is revealed and promised. The mystery of Jesus the Messiah was hidden in the Old Testament, but is now revealed (Eph. 3:3-4). The mystery of marriage that points to Jesus and the Church (Eph. 5:32). The mystery of His second coming (I Cor. 15:51).
I therefore know that it is not an accident to have discovered the truth about the existence of cousins that I never knew of before. The revealer of big mysteries has revealed a little mystery to me. I don’t know how this story will end. Will I meet a cousin who has a family story that explains this separation? It doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that truth is being revealed and there is something healing about it.
You see, so much that Jesus said is true, not just for our spiritual lives, but for our everyday practical lives.
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32
This is as true for my spiritual inner man as it is for my daily practical life. I hope these thoughts are encouraging to those of you who are struggling with the mysteries and secrets in your own life. As a closing thought, may we all be encouraged by this wonderful mystery —our hope:
Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. I Corinthians 15:51-52
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
I Thessalonians 4:16–18
Shown in the photo: My great-grandfather, George Willard Cole with my mother Ruth (L) and her sister Eleanor (R) on his lap. Unknown: The other children in the photo. Approximate date of photo (based on my mother’s age): 1926 at least 3 years before my grandmother’s sister “died young.”