Detectives in mystery novels carry quite a burden. They not only have to solve a mystery but must also overcome sometimes violent resistance and hope no one, including them, gets killed before the mystery is solved. It takes resolve, courage, and a willingness to stick it out to the end. As Jacqueline Winspear’s detective Maisie Dobbs learned from her mentor Dr. Maurice Blanche:
“Everything yields to pressure, Maisie,” Maurice had taught her. “The slow drip of water on stone will, in time, wear away a ridge. Even the strongest metal, if enough weight is applied, will start to bend. Some cases will begin to give quickly. But do not despair of the assignment when it seems to defy every effort. Just give it time. Continue with your work, with your questions and observations. Wait for the yielding.” (Jacqueline Winspear, To Die But Once.)
This is a hard lesson, and not just for mystery novel detectives. Life brings hardships you won’t be able to understand, somewhat like a mystery in a novel. These hardships can take time to overcome, to resolve, to understand, or perhaps only to learn to cope with. Taking the time can itself be a hardship.
How are you to persevere, to be “The slow drip of water on stone [which] will, in time, wear away a ridge”? It is with Jesus.
The Rock and the Water
When it comes to spiritual rocks and water, one passage that comes to mind is when God brought water from a rock for the Israelites in the desert. The people faced true hardship – nothing to drink in a vast desert wilderness – and Moses faced a mystery he could not solve. How was he to save God’s people from dying of thirst?
But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?”
Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”
The Lord answered Moses, “Go out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. (Exodus 17:3-6.)
The mystery of how to bring water to the people is solved. God knows stone and water. He created them both, and they both are clues to who God truly is. After all, Jesus provides the water of life:
“… whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
And Jesus is himself the rock, the foundation all God’s people stand upon:
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:11.)
As Paul explained, all of this was foreshadowed in bringing water to the thirsty Israelites in the desert:
… they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:4.)
The water and rock in the wilderness are both real and are both revelations – clues, if you will – of Jesus. The rock does not hold the water back but allows it to spring forth for God’s people. This is an eternal reality:
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb [Jesus] down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:1-2.)
The mystery of where to find water to satisfy your thirst is solved.
Pushing Forward with Jesus
Yet does Jesus solve all mysteries while we merely sit down and watch it unfold, like readers waiting for the detective to find the clues, endure the dangers, and reveal the mystery at the end of the book?
As Maurice told Maisie, “Everything yields to pressure.” He mentored her, teaching her how to press on despite not seeing where the solution might be found. She worked alongside him as she learned his methods, to exercise his patience, to allow clues to reveal themselves while continuing to press on. This is how people learn from others.
Jesus calls you to learn from him, too.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30.)
Jesus’ invitation recognizes that life can be wearing and burdensome. Yet in finding rest in him you will not be a passive observer like the reader of a novel. His yoke moves you forward. You learn how to make progress, one step in front of the other, with Jesus right there alongside you every step of the way. Your part – among other things – is to “Just give it time. Continue with your work,” as Winspear put it.
Or, as the Bible teaches:
Whoever is patient has great understanding,
but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.
Quick-temper is more than merely lashing out angrily. Its folly shows itself in jumping to conclusions, assigning blame, even in giving up too easily. Patience leads to great understanding when it is a matter of continuing the work, waiting for clues to reveal themselves, allowing the water to proceed from the rock.
Jesus’ yoke moves us forward while giving us rest and peace. It’s a conundrum, but truth as well. You find that all mysteries yield their secrets under its weight.