I love everything about a good mystery novel–anticipating the protagonist’s brilliance and bravery, the twists and turns of the plot, and the intrigue of the unknown. (Persevere to the end for a review of my most recent mystery read!) Because it’s such a popular genre, when the word mystery shows up in the Bible, sometimes we miss the word’s true meaning, and that’s a tragedy, because the word is freighted with significance for believers in 2023.
While it’s true that a biblical mystery implies that something is hidden, it’s not a body, a murderous scheme, a weapon, or a motive. The New Testament uses the term 22 times (in the ESV), always referring to some truth, hidden until now, but revealed for the first time to first-century believers–and now to us.
Truths that were shrouded or hinted at in the Old Testament but manifested more fully in the New Testament include paradigm-shifting concepts such as Christ indwelling the believer, God’s provision of salvation for the world, our ultimate transformation, and the gorgeous metaphorical connection between marriage and the union of Christ with his church.
What Does “Mystery” Require of the Believer?
Any one of these deep truths merits a blog post of its own, but a more pressing question for the moment concerns our approach to biblical mystery. Here are two mindsets I recommend for a woman of the Word to bring to the biblical mysteries:
- Come to Biblical Mysteries with Faith-filled patience:
If I could, I would ask Paul for more detail–especially in light of the recent Twitter-Storm over the Bible’s depiction of marital roles: “So, Paul, I know you said, ‘This mystery is profound,’ but exactly what DID you mean…?”
Too, the mystery of “Christ in me, the hope of glory” doesn’t look very hopeful after I’ve spent a long day substitute teaching. And, when it comes right down to it, that radical transformation Paul predicts in 1 Corinthians 15:51 can’t come fast enough for me. Even so, my right response is faith-filled patience.
All I need to know and understand will be revealed in God’s good time, and then you and I will have all the long leisure of eternity to delight in “the mystery of godliness,” to reminisce about the now-obvious wisdom behind “the mystery of his will,” and to respond with gratitude that the “mystery of Christ” has met miraculously with “the mystery of faith” in our prone to wander hearts.
- Come to Biblical Mysteries with Resolute curiosity:
What if we approached the Word of God with the same determined sleuthing that Adam Dalgliesh or Hercule Poirot brings to a mystery in our favorite fictional worlds? Imagine how much we’d accomplish if we were entranced by truth in the same way that we are captivated by whatever we’re streaming or whatever championship game we’re following at the moment?
Sadly, too often, we throw our hands up in the air, roll our eyes, and sigh, “Mystery! Too hard for me! I’m a lightweight. Let’s leave this to the theology geeks…”
God is mightily glorified when his truth takes center stage in our lives. The writer of Psalm 119 wore out his thesaurus looking for metaphors to adequately express his delight. “I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil!” he crowed.
Do the mysteries of God’s Word inhabit the questions of your days?
Do God’s ways and his thoughts, his unsearchable wisdom and decrees lead you forward in a tantalizing pursuit of understanding?
Faith-filled patience and resolute curiosity–this is the believer’s right response to biblical mystery! #biblicalmysteryTweet
And Now, Let’s Talk Books…
Patricia Raybon is a writer of mystery in the traditional sense, but her work is a unique blend of mystery and faith. Our paths first crossed over at (in)courage where her words are both daring and insightful. In her first award-winning mystery novel All That is Secret, she introduced the world to Annalee Spain, an overworked professor and amateur detective. Now the story continues…
The mystery genre meets historical fiction in Double the Lies, and Patricia Raybon has created a protagonist who carries the plot forward with grace. The reader is transported back to 1920s-era Denver within the experience of an African American woman. Operating at risk of being framed for murder, Annalee Spain hunts for clues to solve the mystery but soon finds herself entangled in the victim’s family and their toxic secrets.
This collision of big city politics, racial injustice, and the failings of the human heart unites a very believable and compelling cast of characters and demonstrates the complexity of guilt and innocence. And incidentally, Sherlock Holmes mystery fans will be delighted by chapter epigraphs and Annalee’s references to Holmes–while the rest of us, out of curiosity, will consider adding a Sherlock Holmes to the top of our TBR list.
Holding You in the Light,
My #review of #DoubletheLies! @PatriciaRaybon, writer of faith and mystery, chronicles the collision of big city politics, racial injustice, and the failings of the human heart. @TyndaleHouseTweet
Did You Know that I Also Publish a Monthly Newsletter?
Every month I send a newsletter with biblical encouragement straight to my subscribers’ email inboxes. Frequently, I share free resources, and the newsletter is where everything lands first. I’m committed to the truth that women can become confident followers of God and students of his Word, and it’s my goal to help you along that path.
To add this free resource to your pursuit of biblical literacy, simply CLICK HERE. There, on Substack’s website you’ll find a prompt that looks just like this image for Living Our Days with Michele Morin. Over on that site, simply enter your email and then click on the purple “SUBSCRIBE” button.
You’ll receive a welcome letter to confirm your subscription, and then monthly encouragement in your email inbox.
I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase any of the books or products I’ve shared, simply click on the image, and you’ll be taken directly to the seller. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Many thanks to Tyndale Publishers for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which is, of course, offered freely and with honesty.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
10 thoughts on “Have You Read Any Good Mysteries Lately?”
That book sounds fabulous! I LOVE a good mystery… and I’ve been searching for a book set in the ’20’s for my book reading challenge.
I hope you’ll get to read it, and if you do, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’ve been recommending it to everyone!
Michele, thank you! Your thoughtful reflection on biblical mysteries–along with your beautiful review of my humble mystery novel–is blessing my soul today. With my warmest thanks!
So pleased to share your good work!
well, only you, my friend, could combine the mysteries of God’s Word and a murder mystery in one post and make it more than work, bringing a creative, rich wisdom to us in the process. thank you!
Thank you for always kind words!
The word “mystery” might make an interesting word-of-the-year choice, especially with 22 scripture references to explore!
Wow! Great thought!
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Patience and curiosity, two traits that we’d all be wise to foster more and more in every aspect of our lives! I love how you put these together, Michele.
They almost seem contradictory, but I think I get better results when I’m patiently inquiring… 🤨