The Mystery of Mysteries

I recently read and reviewed a book by a fellow Christian author.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and my review and rating on Amazon reflected that fact.  Others, however, did not share my opinion, which is fine, but it was their reasons for disliking the book that baffled me.  For the most part, those who gave the book a low rating stated that their reason for doing so was because they were disappointed that the book left the reader hanging.  They accused the author of some evil plot designed to intrigue them enough and con them into buying the second book.  Oh please!

First off, it's not an evil plot.  It's called writing and trying to make a living at it.  Isn't the whole point to get people to like your writing enough that they'll buy more of your books?  What's wrong with enticing a reader into a story and then continuing the story in the next book?  Popular authors do it all the time.  Hello, the Lord of the Rings trilogy?  Trilogy, as in more than one book.

Second, the author did not have some dastardly plan to trick the readers.  The title of her book boldly states "Book One."  What did these people think that meant?  If there's a one, chances are there's a two, duh!!!!  As you can see, this topic has me pretty hot under the collar.  Perhaps it's because I'm a fellow Christian author and don't like seeing my sister in Christ attacked.  Or maybe it's because I know how difficult it is to make a living as a writer, and people like this certainly don't make it any easier.

Anyway, after several of these negative reviews, this author placed a disclaimer on her book's page.  The first point reads, "Don't buy or read this book if you want your endings tied up neatly in a bow. . .You will not like the cliff hanger ending if you want all your answers in the first book."  Well said!

Unfortunately, that very phrase came back to haunt me this morning during my devotion time.  While reading in a new book, I uncovered this statement:  "And while God promises to one day make everything right, the loose ends won't always get tied up to our great satisfaction."  Ouch, that smarts!  In one bold sentence, I was reminded that I am guilty of the very same attitude that has frustrated me.  The readers of my colleague's book were angry because the ending wasn't what they expected.  The loose ends were left dangling.  They were left in suspense.  They didn't have all the answers, and they felt betrayed because of it.  Um, isn't that the way we treat God?

As I said earlier, I loved the book.  I didn't mind being left in suspense.  It just adds to the mystery and intrigue.  I am anticipating the second book.  No problem!  Unfortunately, I don't feel the same way about life.  I don't want to be left hanging.  I do want all the loose ends tied up in a neat little bow.  I want to have all the answers and to see the mystery solved.  I don't want to wait.  "To be continued" doesn't work well for me in real life.  I'm too impatient!

And sadly, my response to God's masterpiece is the same as those I was ridiculing.  I fuss and complain and accuse the Author of not doing it right.  But you know what?  God has done the same thing my colleague has done.  He has placed a bold statement (several, in fact) in plain view to deter the gripes and groans.  Here are just a few:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. - Isaiah 55:8-9

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. - Proverbs 3:5

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. - Jeremiah 29:11

What man is he that feareth the Lord? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. - Psalm 25:12

 A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps. - Proverbs 16:9

O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. - Jeremiah 10:23

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. - Philippians 2:13  

May I summarize all those verses into one main thought?  Basically, God is saying, "I'm the Author.  Let me tell the story.  We'll reach the conclusion soon enough, but in the meantime, don't let the unknowns deprive you of the joy of the story.  Allow them to add to the intrigue, giving you something to look forward to."

Would mystery novels be enjoyable if we knew all the answers?  Of course not.  That's the fun of reading them--to try to figure it out.  Why not approach the mysteries of life the same way?  Instead of demanding answers, why don't we just talk to the Author?  Instead of complaining about what we don't know or have, why don't we relish in what we know is to come?  Does God really need to tie up the loose ends to our satisfaction?  I hope not because, deep down, I know what He has planned for me is far greater than I could ever ask or think. (Ephesians 3:20)  Why settle for less?