ENIGMAS by Pastor Ken Rickett

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THE BLOG by Pastor Ken Rickett: “ENIGMAS”

Not only do I have an infatuation with large jigsaw puzzles (1000-3000 pieces), but I also spend hours in puzzle books which have a variety of Sudoku, crossword, brick by brick, syl-la-cros-tic, anagram magic squares, word math, escalators, & starspell puzzles, among others.

Enigmatic! You bet! Open a box of a 3000-piece jigsaw puzzle and pick out one piece and ask yourself, “exactly where will this one piece fit when the puzzle is finished?” Realize that you are asking the same question for each of the 3000 pieces! And puzzle books are often hard to solve; the cryptic clues are difficult to figure out, and once in a blue moon, I may barely attempt a puzzle on any given page and in frustration, give up long before I can solve it!

AH…BUT I like challenges. Whether it be family members or friends, whether it be parishioners (when I pastored congregations) or a custom or tradition, there is something enigmatic about people and

events…something mysterious, not understood nor grasped, something that defies explanation. As a husband and as a parent, there are some instances in which one’s own family can be enigmatic, unreadable, not acting in accord with past behavior. This

explains why a surprise birthday party is not usually a surprise…enigmatic behavior around the time of an approaching birthday gives away the secret! And enigmatic behavior in family members may give no clues to the reason(s) for the display of strong emotions (anger, tears, etc.) nor the deepening despair that is expressed by words or by reaction.   

There are times that even those we deeply love are mysteries to us. Most of us have experienced more than a few times in which we had to solve an enigma (puzzling) among family members. I had a family member who lived into her 80s, never married and lived with her parents (my grandparents)…talk about an enigmatic person! Not only was she socially withdrawn, a sharp contrast to her outgoing sisters. She was unable to get a job outside the home. Much of her conversation was a repeat of something just said. Yet, she went to the town library every two weeks for decades and decades until her death, checking out two to four books and reading them. But she could not tell any of us the plot of those books although the family felt that she was fully aware of the storylines. When she was in a nursing home briefly before her passing, the family learned that she suffered all her life from a type of dementia in which her brain could not process and express thoughts for communication. However unfortunate this diagnosis, the enigma, the riddle of her unusual behavior, became solved. 

The world is full of enigmas. For example, what happened to the Malaysian flight MH170 that disappeared without a trace over the ocean a few years ago? What really led to the disappearance of the ancient Mayan dynasty in Central America? What is “driving” the disconnect between today’s church and the people of the land? (If

we knew the answer to this puzzle, positive and effective steps would have been undertaken years ago!) Enigmas give rise to legitimate theories as well as conspiracies as we cope with the vastness of what is not known nor understood.

Enigma, ainigma in Greek (noun), comes from ainissesthai, “to speak in riddles” and refers to things as well as people as “riddles almost impossible to understand.” Does this word appear in Scripture? Yes, but only once. I Corinthians 13:12 (paraphrased)we see through a mirror but darkly.’ The Greek word ainigma is translated: “darkly” or “dimly.” referring to our human inability to see and to understand the vastness of what God has not yet revealed to us about God-Self and the impossibility of any of us to fully grasp “the image of God within us.”

WHEW! Maybe a bit more explanation will help. In Greek, ainigma has the connotation of being impossible to understand in this earthy life. In this one instance, enigma is NOT a mystery, that is, it is not something hidden but may be found by diligent searching. God still has not fully revealed God-Self and will not be fully revealed until we gather in God’s eternal community. AND, likewise, we, although we are living in Christ, will not see the fullness of the Image of God in us until we enter the Kingdom of Heaven. These things are seen only dimly (darkly as if no light can fully illuminate it). 

So what are we to grasp in this life, even if not perfectly? Faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love. 

The working of God’s Spirit promised by Jesus is enigmatic. The Spirit is never fully known, and neither is God, who is constantly revealing who He is. So, we spend a lifetime seeking to know God and His Love as revealed in Christ. O, the puzzles that confront us who would dare to follow God, revealed in Christ through the Holy Spirit!

Has it ever occurred to you that without enigmas, we would have no reason to live by faith, hope, and love?