It seems a person of my age should have figured out everything by now. But in some ways the opposite is true—I’m more aware than ever of life’s mysteries.
The writer of Proverbs 30 seemed to have a similar experience, marveling about the things he couldn’t really understand:
There are three things that amaze me—
no, four things that I don’t understand:
how an eagle glides through the sky,
how a snake slithers on a rock,
how a ship navigates the ocean,
how a man loves a woman (vs. 18-19 NLT).
This man was humble enough to recognize he didn’t “know it all.” He was still in awe of God’s wonder-filled creation.
First, he watched an eagle soaring high in the sky, without even flapping its wings. That’s impossible! the writer thought to himself. The eagle is flying higher and higher, without exerting any effort at all.
Of course, eagles are a picture of our lives as believers. The Bible says we can gain new strength and rise up as eagles when we wait on the Lord, relying on His power rather than our own (Isaiah 40:28-31). Just like the mystery of an eagle’s flight, the Christian life is meant to be supernatural and amazing, rather than a matter of strain and struggle (Colossians 1:27).
Next, the writer of Proverbs 30 sees a snake rapidly slithering across a rock. How does it do that?! he wondered. Snakes have no legs, after all. Like the effortless flight of eagles, the movement of a snake seems almost magical.
The ability of ships to navigate the oceans was also bewildering for the writer. If ships could only go in the direction of the winds, that would be understandable. However, he observed that ships frequently travel against the headwinds and the ocean currents. They are able to make progress toward their intended destination even when circumstances make matters difficult.
This is another great picture of the Christian life. We don’t have to drift helplessly in the water, nor must we be blown about by the shifting winds of our culture. Against all odds, we can set our sails to catch the breeze of God’s Spirit, and we can set our rudder to achieve our life’s purpose.
Finally, the writer comes to the most humbling, most baffling, most incredible mystery of all: love between a man and a woman. Even if you can figure out the wondrous mysteries of eagles, snakes, and ships, only a person of extreme hubris claims to fully understand the dynamics of male-female relationships.
Well, actually, I used to understand women pretty well—when I was in my twenties and still single! I even recorded a Bible study message explaining it all. Yes, I had women figured out back then, and I was happy to tell anyone who would listen.
Hopefully I’m not the only one who is still struggling with life’s mysteries. Are there still some things “too wonderful” for YOU to understand? If so, that’s fantastic! May you never lose your sense of wonder and amazement. And may you always recognize your need to rely on the Lord rather than on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Remember: In this life we’re destined to merely know “in part” (1 Corinthians 13:9). Someday in heaven, though, we’ll be able to ask God about all the mysteries we were never able to figure out.
Loved your analogies Jim. It’s just hard to understand some things.
Life gets more mysterious all the time. Even the scientist who think they can discover the God particle discovered more mystery when they looked.
After 54 years of marriage, more mystery.