There is no greater mystery then that which we live in. Continually, I find myself dumbfounded by the actions of people, the course of events, and the peculiarities of nature. The harder I look, the more I see, and the less I understand. The simple things often made complex, and the elaborate thesis reduced to a single thought. Throw this in with the mélange of everyday life, deadlines, commitments, expectations, and more often than not, I find myself overwhelmed. To slow it down is hopeless, and to comprehend it is impossible.
It doesn’t take long for a person to realize this. Often times, as in my case, it comes gradually, with no sudden epiphany, but one day you finally put the pieces together and realize you will never be able to completely understand this thing called life.
This is a rather unappealing conclusion. Knowledge and understanding are things we value to a great extent, and when they seem to become useless, it leaves behind a lack of satisfaction.
However, while such a conclusion leaves more to be desired, just because we will never figure out the world around us, doesn’t necessarily imply that we have to stop looking. This is the basis of curiosity and creativity. In short, we’ve been given of sort of task, to figure out as much as we can, do as much as we can, live as much as we can, in the time that occupies our lives. Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to embrace the mystery.
To explain myself more fully, this is what I mean: due to the fact that we will never fully understand life, we are faced with a choice, to either simply accept that, or to take it as an opportunity to explore that world around us without any hesitation of having to have it all figured out. To embrace the mystery is to realize that we have been given a quest to pursue the great unknown that surrounds us. In doing so, we can find purpose, meaning and fulfillment in this world that we have been placed in.
I’ve often likened this idea to the passage in 1 Corinthians where Paul talks about running the race.
Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.
Now, I always understood the idea of the prize, or the reward, but I never fully understood the idea of running the race, or the pursuit of the reward. This changed over the course of the previous year as I became extraordinarily busy trying to cope with school and a host of extra commitments in and out of school on very little sleep. In the past I’d experienced small stretches of time like this, but eventually they let up. This time, it seemed to be without an end. It was at this time that I fully grasped the idea of the pursuit. It’s a never ending climb to the end of our journey on earth, our quest to discover what’s around us, to find our purpose, our role in the world, and go out and fulfill it.
Pursuit is an exceptional word, it simultaneously puts emphasis on both parts of its meaning. It implies that there is an end in mind, but that the process of getting there is just as important. It becomes impossible to obtain the reward without first putting a “purpose in every step.” Every epic quest is remembered as such due to the great pains and adventures that where within it. Our time on the earth as followers of Christ is essentially the adventure of a lifetime.
There was a certain occurrence that I remember from the past year. I was taking a walk, thinking about the whole idea of the pursuit, I found myself walking into the dark, with all the beauty of the sunset far behind me. However, as I as was walking, I remembered that if I were to continue in the same direction, that although I walked into the dark now, the next morning the sun would rise, and I would behold all of its majesty and splendor, and as such, the pursuit would continue and the mystery would live on.