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To Wonder at God's MysteryTo Wonder at God's Mystery

To Wonder at God's Mystery

Wonder is how we relate to the mystery of God, finding truth beyond the horizon and yet just in our grasp, writes Matthew Van Abbema. 

Matthew Van Abbema
3 minute read

God is sometimes a stranger, but every stranger can bring us to the new, the unexpected and the transformative. I cannot believe in a God not wonderful enough to be always a little mysterious. 

I believe in lines because they are straight and I can see them, I believe in squares because they are made from lines. I do not believe that my relationship, or anyone’s relationship, to God should be this formal or this simple. God is a greatness ready to be discovered, explored and loved. 

I cherish the mystery of God. There is little else so worthy of my attention and my devotion. I am sure someone, somewhere or sometime in the world, loved lines and squares because they were simple, but he loved them only because he himself was not simple. 

I am of the belief that we were made to not only understand truth, but to love it. Why else would we have wonder? There is no stranger emotion for understanding mystery than wonder, and yet nothing else is so fitting. 

When we come upon or discover truth, it should only be a matter of processing information and yet sometimes it is not. Sometimes the information leaves us disturbed, disgruntled, uneasy, joyous, delighted or pleased (and of all the emotions we feel from wonder, pleased is the oddest). As if what we expected, but could only hope for what was there all along, truly was there. Before we met the truth, we knew it was hiding and where it decided to hide. That is the essence of mystery and our wonder for it; we know that something is there and we have an inkling of what it is. A nagging that draws us in through wonder. 

The problem, then, in trying only to believe simple and uncomplicated truths, is how we must destroy wonder to do it. Many people do this all the time, both religious and not. Some call it heresy; some others call it hate speech. Some are of the mind that the only truth that can be known are the simple ones. To these people I want to answer with this: Your fears are grounded but your methods are not.

It is true that there are heretics, and I do not doubt for a minute the existence of hateful speech. Small truths are easier to understand than great ones and it takes effort to love the complex. I cannot say that wonder is perfect, nor that it will save us from miscalculation and mistake. I may wonder with all my heart what is over the next horizon, but without a map or some means of guidance all I will find is a good place to get lost in. Wonder will push us to go further, it is the answer to the demand of mystery—but something else is needed. 

Wonder is how we relate to the mysteriousness of God, the truth that is just beyond the horizon and yet just in our grasp. How we finally take ahold of this truth is, in my opinion at least, through reason. When we study, when we learn, when we ask questions and engage in dialogue, this is when I feel we are fulfilling our sense of wonder. 

Wonder is the ethereal, the dream-like and the passionate, while reason is the transformative and the practical. Tell me the last time you saw or met someone who wished with all their heart to be married and dreamt of it every day. How often did they wonder what it is like to be married, to be a husband or a wife, but have no interest in actually fulfilling that dream? Alternatively, how awful would it be to love the idea of being married without wanting to put in the effort of being worthy of marriage? I imagine that some people love the romance of marriage, but do not equally love the chance to better themselves for it. 

The mysterious quality of God does not mean that He is undiscoverable. The Mystery of God calls us into the joy of discovering Him further. When it relates to God, discovery, the process of exploring His mystery, is something truly joyous. 

To search for the mysterious and truth, to be enchanted by it and ultimately, to want to know what or who or how it is—this is wonder. To love it, to learn it and to let it transform and change us, this is reason. It is clear to me that those who say that the mystery of God is opposed to reason have not understood what is meant by ‘mystery.’ It is also clear that those who love God are those who find something new to love each day. 

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