A couple of weeks ago, I was at some friends' house, and their youngest daughter was in the middle of reading a collection of Agatha Christie novels. As soon as I saw the book, I exclaimed how much I LOVE Agatha Christie. Until upon reflection, I realized I had never actually READ any Agatha Christie. Apparently I've always just loved the idea of her.
So after we all marvelled that someone who reads as much as I do has never picked up one of Dame Christie's books, I soon found myself at the library checking out Death on the Nile. The book began a little slow, as the author developed brief back story for about 20 characters. But as soon as superstar Detective Hercule Poirot showed up on the scene, the bodies started dropping and the who-dun-it plot was in full swing.
So as not to be a spoiler for other Agatha Christie newbies, I won't go into the plot details or the complicated twist ending. Suffice it to say, I am now an official Agatha Christie fan. I spent the next few days after finishing the book trying to solve all kinds of mysteries in my life. I analyzed my friends' and coworkers' personalities. I looked for inconsistent behavior patterns, and objects that seemed out of place.
I think I liked Death on the Nile so much because in the end, every question was answered. Every unexplainable event early in the novel was all tidily squared away by the last page. There was plenty of mercy for the lesser crimes that were uncovered in the process of catching the murderer. Most of those crimes were just the result of a character flaw or a moment of weakness. But for the real criminals, there was nothing but justice. Case closed.
I think this is what I often imagine the mysteries of God to be like. A series of complicated, intertwined events that could easily be explained if God were a little more like Hercule Poirot. In other words, I've always thought that if God would just explain what is happening and why, I'd understand it.
The more I get to know the God of the universe, however, the more I am convinced that even if he wrote out the history of the world in the form of a good Agatha Christie novel, there would still be a lot of unanswered questions, and the mercy and justice wouldn't feel like they were distributed quite so well. At least on this side of heaven. God's ways are just not my ways.
As much as I want my life to be a series of "Ah ha!" moments, and as eager as I am to see the bad guy get his (or her) just desserts, I am realizing that the mysteries of God are not puzzles to be solved, but revelations to be discovered. They lead me less to understanding and more to trust.
God doesn't answer all our questions in ways we can comprehend, but he gives us one answer, Jesus, and asks us to figure out which questions we should really be asking. And when we finally are with him in heaven and have the rest of forever on our hands, we'll finally get around to turning the pages of the greatest mystery ever written. Only in this story, we already know the surprise ending.
"Do you think you can explain the mystery of God? Do you think you can diagram God Almighty? God is far higher than you can imagine, far deeper than you can comprehend, Stretching farther than earth's horizons, far wider than the endless ocean." Job 11:7
from The Message