A Puzzling Faith

I love crossword puzzles. Since I was young, I’ve enjoyed working them. But my fire was really stoked by watching the wonderful documentary “Wordplay,” about the world of crossword puzzles and the strange, eclectic people who inhabit it (present company included). One of the reasons I was excited to move to Lexington was finding out that the Herald-Leader carries the New York Times crossword puzzle, the granddaddy of them all edited by Will Shortz, whose college degree is in Enigmatology (the study of puzzles). One of my favorite ways to wind down on Sunday is to dive into to the behemoth Times Sunday crossword.

I believe my love for crosswords has a theological rationale. I am, by nature, a problem-solver. I enjoyed math in school because I knew that every problem had a solution. No matter how complex the equation, no matter how many numbers and symbols the teacher threw at me, I knew there was a correct answer, and if I worked hard enough at it, I could find it and put the problem to rest.

So it’s ironic that I now make my living in a profession that puts me in situations where there are no answers. In funeral homes, in hospital rooms and in counseling sessions I’m often faced with complex problems that don’t have easy answers. The problem-solver in me has been forced to live with this tension. So one of the ways I deal with that is to escape into crossword puzzles, where there is always an answer (even if you have to look it up).

I believe so much of the life’s journey is a search for answers to questions with which we struggle. Some of these questions are existential (“What is my purpose?”) while other questions are circumstantial (“Why me?”). But all of these questions have one thing in common: they are not easily answered, if they are answered at all. No matter how hard we work at it, we cannot put these problems to rest.

That’s why I’m thankful that I worship a God who doesn’t require me to have any answers. In fact, I believe God expects us to live without all the answers, because that forces us to be dependent on someone other than ourselves. If we don’t have the answers, we can trust that there is One who does: “Be still and know that I am God.” So when I am faced with situations in my own life or in the life of this wonderful congregation where the problems aren’t easily solved, I trust that there is a Power greater than me that helps us through.

Hmm. It’s a three-letter word and the clue is, “The One who loves you more than you’ll ever know.” I’m pretty sure the first letter is G…

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