The Mystery File

August 10, 2009 | 23 comments

I returned to my Mystery File tonight, the manila folder where I tuck scraps of paper with handwritten notes. It’s where I keep my questions for God:

“Did it really take only seven days to create it all?”

“Was Methuselah really that old?”

“Infant baptism or not?”

And then some of the questions get more personal, like the kind I recorded in the Mystery File tonight: “Why did he have to die like this? Why did he have to die now?”

My family is reeling from the tragic death of my uncle, who passed away on a central-Iowa lake Thursday afternoon while boating with his wife and granddaughter.

I’d like to wrap up the rawness of this pain in pretty paper and tie it up with a bow, but the truth is this: It hurts.

So I write the question on a white sheet of paper, and I stuff it in the Mystery File, and I remember what someone once said: “I’m finding that the more I learn, the less I really know after all.”

And I’m thankful that once again, I can come to God as I am: bruised, hurt, angry, questioning. Even in the midst of brokenness, He reminds me that the answers will come. We have pain on this side of the Fall, but hope on this side of the Cross.

My uncle took an early and unexpected flight Home, and we know he’s there: Home. I imagine his infectious laughter filling the Banquet hall. I picture boat-loads of bass and walleye caught off celestial shores.

And I’m certain that my uncle has all the answers to all the questions in the Mystery File.

But the rest of us are left with a pile full of questions. We are hungry beggars, pressing our noses to the dark glass that separates this world from the next, but all we see is a blurry picture of the Banquet Hall. What we see is enough to keep us hungry for what’s inside — but not enough to ever feel fully satisfied.

Here at the glass — foggy from the vapor of our own breath — our hearts yearn for Home.

But we don’t have a full picture of it. … Not yet, anyhow.

So we embrace a mystery
and a Person
and the hope of what’s on the other side of the glass.

And we remember that even when we don’t have the answers, we still have the Truth.


” … that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:2-3

by | August 10, 2009 | 23 comments


  1. Kee

    Oh Jennifer, I'm so very sorry about your uncle. Death is always hard, but sudden death leaves you realing.
    I will be praying for you and the entire family.
    May God wrap you in HIS peace.

  2. Candi

    Oh, Jennifer, I am so sorry for your family's loss. Please know that I'm praying that God brings you many breadcrumbs in your grief, reminders of the way home, to His heart (good). When we grieve with hope of the other side of the glass, it's still grief. And He is still the God of all comfort.

    My family walked through an intense season of grief last summer–well, we're still walking through it. My daughter is working through her grief with sleeping troubles and lots of art. I've used my blog.

    Jesus has met us in our different places of mourning. I pray He will meet you all too.

  3. RCUBEs

    May God cover you all with His strength and comfort with your uncle's death.

    Death comes unexpected to some and while we may not understand, our hope does come from His wonderful promise of resurrection! To that effect, death is not the end but just the beginning of a never-ending journey with our Lord and Savior. Glory to God! Love and blessings to you sister.

  4. Arianne

    My condolences to you and your family. I will be praying for you. May the peace of Jesus be with you….

  5. Beth.. One Blessed Nana

    Jennifer – I am so sorry about your Uncle. I will be praying for all of your family. I just can't imagine what they are going through.

    A young man that we have known for many years committed suicide yesterday and his family is just destroyed. Left behind several small children. Remember them in prayer as well.

    I too have questions like your mystery file.

    Many blessings sister!

  6. Anne L.B.

    Jennifer, when I'm in pain and seeking God's comfort, and I ask those questions, I often am so humbled by His presence that I'm compelled to ask not why I've lost what I treasured, but why He would have seen fit to bless me with it for as long as I had it.

    I hope that your many treasured memories of your uncle will prove to be blessing beyond the pain.

  7. Warren Baldwin

    I'm sorry to hear about your uncle. But your spiritual perspective is so healthy. I like this line you wrote:

    So we embrace a mystery
    and a Person
    and the hope of what's on the other side of the glass.


  8. Beth E.

    I'm so sorry about your uncle's sudden death. Please know that I am praying for you and your family.

    I once heard a pastor say that when we get to heaven, our eyes will be opened…we will completely understand everything and we will no longer have questions to ask.

    Thank you for your kind comment and your prayers regarding the loss of MY uncle.


  9. christy rose

    Jennifer, I am so sorry to hear about your uncle. I have prayed and will continue to pray for your family.

    Your perspective is so endearing though. I also have a mystery file full of questions that have no answer in my mental understanding of this life. But as you said, "even when we don't have the answers, we still have the Truth." We only see through the darkened glass now, but someday we will see Him face to face with all of the answers. Knowing that we know the Truth that will reveal the answers within our mystery file allows us the freedom to continue on, trusting in the Truth that we cling to.

  10. Runner Mom

    Oh, Jennifer, I am so sorry for your loss. This post was beautiful and pwerful! SO full of the Holy Spirit–it moved me to tears. You and your family are in my prayers. May you feel His peace and comfort.


  11. Lyla Lindquist

    It's absolutely time for that Mystery File space upgrade, friend. Questions like these, with the ache they bring even as you seek to rejoice as you imagine him pulling his brand new chair up to the banquet table, they eclipse all the others.

    Aching for you, asking Him for the comfort all of you seek.

  12. ~Maria

    Jennifer, I never seem to have "the right words" but I want to let you know that I am praying for you and your family. I actually have been since I heard about the tragic death of your uncle on the news….I only just realized he was your uncle…such a small world. May the Lord grant you grace and peace. ~Maria

  13. Daune

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss.

    May His grace and joy flood your soul in these coming days.

    I pray His peace guard your heart as you walk through this valley.

  14. lynnrush

    I'm sorry for your loss, Jennifer. I'll be praying for you.

  15. Denise @ A Sacred Longing

    Death, unexpected, is a visitor we rarely want. I am so sorry for your loss. I am praying for your family as they grapple with the grief they are now experiencing.

    A nose-pressed glass window or a manila folder – both allow us only so much. In the here and now, it rarely seems enough.

    Praying my friend.

  16. Monica Sharman

    We all embrace mystery, and I embrace…

  17. Faith Imagined

    I am so sorry! By your writing he sounds like a good man and one that will be missed! BTW, I love your idea of the mystery file!

  18. Jennifer

    I join you in your sorrow. Even when we know the person is going home to meet Jesus, it's still not easy. God knows. Let Him wrap you in His loving arms and comfort you.

  19. Julie


    So sorry for your loss…please know that you and your family are in my prayers.

    It is good to question these things that stump us in this life. It is in these times that HE is revealed more clearly. Maybe not right in the moment that we are in but looking back you can see that HE has been there through it all.

    Sweet blessings my friend…

  20. Prairie Chick

    So we embrace a mystery
    and a Person
    and the hope of what's on the other side of the glass.

    And we remember that even when we don't have the answers, we still have the Truth.

    Oh girl. Amen.

  21. RCUBEs

    No! There's no mystery but I just want to thank you so please come and visit when you get a chance. God bless.

  22. LisaShaw

    Jennifer, I'm very sorry for the loss of your precious Uncle on this side of heaven but I rejoice in knowing he is HOME where we all long to someday be.

    I pray for God's peace and comfort for you and your entire family.

    Your words here are so true: "We have pain on this side of the Fall, but hope on this side of the Cross."

    Love and hugs.

  23. Carey

    Oh, Jen. So sorry for your family's pain. Words cannot express. Praying for you.



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