On my vacation reading list was a book by N.T. Wright that I had read before. Repeated searches for it on all of my bookshelves at church and at home were unsuccessful, so I sent out an email to see if I had loaned it to someone. But the book was not to be found. The copy I checked out of the Chesterfield Library had the exact cover I remembered, and its contents were familiar. After our vacation the book was returned to the library. Then, earlier this week, as I walked into my office one morning, there sat my copy among other books on the shelf. What a mystery!
I am sure it has happened to you - or at least I hope it has - you search and search for something, but are unable to locate it. Then, sometime later, you discover it has been right under your nose the entire time. Sometimes it takes walking away and returning later. Sometimes it takes adding another set of eyes. At least these mysterious discoveries are happy ones.
When some of my appointments cancelled yesterday, I used the time to write this article. Lacking only the closing paragraph, I then saved it for completion this morning. This was a good thing in my mind because last night was our wedding anniversary (Yes, I survived the trade deadline one more year) and it was nice going out to eat knowing Thursday morning would be a little easier than normal. This morning I opened up my computer, started reading what I had written, and suddenly it vanished - everything I had written the day before, except for the title and date, was gone! Suddenly my morning that was supposed to be more relaxed was turned upside down. I would not classify this as a happy mystery.
I can't even seem to remember the direction I was headed yesterday in my writing! I know I wrote about the mystery of being so loved by such a special person, and how blessed we are. Somehow that led into a conversation how some extra sets of eyes had brought greater clarity to the fact that, in God's design, Christians are to be the best citizens, workers, wives and husbands. I wonder how many people find this to be a mysterious discovery?
1 Peter has a very helpful explanation of God's design for a Christian's life. My quotes are from a paraphrase called The Message. "Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God's emissaries for keeping order. It is God's will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you're a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity." (1 Peter 2.13-16) "Be good (workers) ... If you're treated badly for good behavior and continue in spite of it be a good (worker), that is what counts with God." (1 Peter 2.18-20) "The same goes for you wives ... Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in. The holy women of old were beautiful before God that way, and were good, loyal wives to their husbands." (1 Peter 3.1, 4-5) "The same goes for you husbands: Be good husbands to your wives. Honor them, delight in them. As women they lack some of your advantages. But in the new life of God's grace, you're equals. Treat your wives, then, as equals." (1 Peter 3.7)
The logic of all of this makes the most sense to me when I first picture myself on the receiving end of such behavior. If it feels good to me, it likely feels good to others. And, since as God's people we are called to be leaders in the world, the behavior should start with us ... with me being a good citizen, a good worker, and good spouse. In God's own mysterious way, this seems to be the strategy by which he is saving the world.
I find it interesting that, in a society that seems to be generally trending in a pagan direction, the Biblical concept of servant leadership has received so much traction. I'm hoping that, instead of being a mysterious discovery for you, this is simply a little bit of reinforcement for things you already knew. Perhaps the folk song written by Jill and Sy Miller in 1955 provides the best way to summarize things: "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me."
Somehow, I suspect, that as we function more consistently according to God's design, the happy kind of mysterious discoveries in our lives will multiply. What do you think?