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Pastor Glenn McDonald: God's Open Secret

Visitors to the Racetrack Playa in Death Valley, California, have noticed something mysterious over the past 100 years.


Rocks have been “racing” along the Racetrack.


A playa is a dry lakebed.  Its hard dry surface can be as unyielding as asphalt. 


The strange reality is that rocks of all shapes and sizes – some of them as heavy as 80 pounds – appear to have glided across the playa, leaving behind conspicuous trails.  No human or animal footprints are ever found beside the tracks, which can be hundreds of feet long.


What is setting these rocks in motion?  What mysterious force keeps them moving?


The assumption has always been that there must be a rational explanation.  But in the absence of easy answers, people have eagerly filled in the gaps with extraordinary theories. 


Earthquakes.  Space aliens.  Spirits.  Electrical force fields.  Hurricane-force winds.


Finally, about 10 years ago, weather cameras placed in the area solved the mystery.  During chilly desert nights, a thin layer of ice can form underneath a rock.  As the sun begins to melt the ice, all it takes is a steady breeze to nudge even huge rocks forward on icy “floats.”


So much for the theory that extra-terrestrials are fond of “bowling” in Death Valley.


Mysteries are fun.  It would take an entire wing of a fair-sized library just to hold the murder mysteries written in the English language over the past century.  The best authors lay down trails of clues.  Can alert readers anticipate how the mystery will be solved?


The Bible contains its shares of mysteries, too.  About a dozen passages are associated with the Greek word musterion. 


But Bible mysteries are different in one important regard.  They aren’t puzzles to be solved.  They are better described as open secrets – important insights that we could never figure out by ourselves, but which God reveals gladly.


The apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians presents the most famous musterion of all. 


It’s the notion that Jesus is alive and well and active on planet earth – and that if you want to see him, keep your eyes on his followers.  The church, in other words, is not just a group of people who like to sing hymns and share chicken casserole recipes.


Paul was convinced that this wasn’t just a Jewish Thing.  Nor was it a Pagan Gentile Thing.  It was an Everybody’s-In-On-This-Together Thing, as he explains in Ephesians 3:4-6:


“As you read over what I have written to you, you’ll be able to see for yourselves into the mystery of Christ. None of our ancestors understood this. Only in our time has it been made clear by God’s Spirit through his holy apostles and prophets of this new order. The mystery is that people who have never heard of God and those who have heard of him all their lives (what I’ve been calling outsiders and insiders) stand on the same ground before God. They get the same offer, same help, same promises in Christ Jesus. The Message is accessible and welcoming to everyone, across the board” (The Message).


Despite all of our foolishness and frailties, God’s incredible open secret is that God works through us to teach, to heal, to love, and to help redeem this broken world.


Who would have guessed it?


Everybody’s invited to be Jesus’ hands and feet, doing his work on Earth. 


And by his grace and power we can help nudge seemingly immovable boulders.




Would you like to explore previous reflections, and learn more about this ministry?  Check out

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