One week into my new job and my boss labeled me as the person who “likes to be in-the-know.” Apparently, incessant questions and postulating potential situations I might encounter tipped her off to the fact that I do not like to be kept in the dark.
Whether done out of a genuine desire to be a quality employee, or out of fear of ignorance, I’m not really sure, but I was indeed ready to get the introductory period over and done with. Either way, the name of the game for me was no surprises, no getting caught off my guard (as if I was a policeman rather than offering discounts to customers), no incompetency. I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds herself in this situation, but I found it comical that it would be so obviously pointed out by my boss and even more so that I became somewhat of a soundboard for more non-work related information than I cared to know. But the fact that it was pointed out caused me to pause and think about this label that was slapped onto my forehead like a church name tag.
My limited life experience has taught me that life is not compartmentalized; what happens in one sphere is bound to produce residue in another, whether good or not. Perhaps this same controlling behavior of mine so clearly demonstrated in the workplace had seeped into other behavioral practices. With some evaluation I found that it indeed had.
You see, despite my phlegmatic and easy-going nature, I have a desire to live with binoculars permanently fastened to the front of my face, allowing me to see far down the road. I want to understand what I’m going through, see my future, know all the right steps to take with school, my future career, my relationships. The rest of my life is just like work: no surprises, no getting caught off guard. This binocular effect would of course enable me to make all the right decisions, make my fears fly away and dispel all my anxieties. Right?
Perhaps wrong. I came across a passage of scripture a while ago that really began to challenge my notions of control and change my perspective on not “being in-the-know.” Proverbs 25:2: “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.”
Wow. At first it sounds more like a dog chasing a bone on a stick than some sort of inspirational and convicting proverb. And I’m sure many of us would say, “Well I’m no king: this passage is not for me.” But the Bible is hardly one dimensional and I think there is much more to this than we give it credit for. I think it tells of a deeper truth, something that when confronted by, flies in the face of all of our controlling tendencies.
It speaks of mystery.
I won’t pretend to be a scholar on this particular passage, but I think it’s saying: Hey, I’m God. There are things that I know. I know all, I see all. They are deep and I am unsearchable. And for you, the glory of it all lies in the fact that you don’t know. You get to discover what I know. You get to search and go on adventures.
Adventures. Sometimes these mysteries don’t seem much like adventures. Sometimes they come in the form of hard questions to problems like cancer and unemployment and hurt and pain. But does having the binoculars really ease the pain of these trials? Does anything really help us prepare for the hardships that are innately part of life? Is there anything at all that can ease their passing?
I think there is. There is depth and comfort to be found in mystery – to know that what we feel right now isn’t the end, it isn’t permanent, there is something worth searching out, something worth fighting for. Just as there is inevitably an end to the long road we try so desperately to look down, there is something at the end of mystery.
Revelation is like moving to a strange new city and finding secret walking paths or hole-in- the-wall restaurants that make it feel like home. Or like discovering the sweater you’ve been watching in the display window is finally on sale. Mystery brings revelation. And grasping for it, and looking behind all the nooks and crannies can get us moving, can give us hope and motivation and, in itself, help lift us out of the ruts that our controlling desires often put us in. Secret walking paths and sweaters may seem trivial in the grand scheme of things, but it serves to demonstrate that there is a certain measure of waiting, watching, looking, and patience required. But these are eventually met by something sweet and comforting, maybe even a little exciting. There is joy and peace and rest to be had when the revelation is found.
There is of course something to be said for being prepared and keeping our lives in order, but I think a full and rich life comes from the mystery. And most importantly, from the mystery fashioned by a master Creator who formed the richest treasures we could ever imagine.