A door shut tight. A movie neatly wrapped. An answer decisive and clear.
It’s what we all want.
What we crave.
When we don’t have it, we stay anxious, straddling limbo. Like a poorly hung frame, we can’t find level. Closure, after all, brings a sense of certainty, reassurance, fortitude. No ambiguity, nothing left unfinished.
Goodbye question mark, hello period.
What a comforting thought.
I used to love discussing closure in my college composition courses. The concept was one of the best ways I could get students to understand the why behind their writing errors (besides carelessness, of course). Their logic leaps, organizational missteps, gnarling grammar errors often materialize because students’ minds close the gaps. They fix typos, gloss over inaccuracies. What the mind thinks is on paper isn’t actually there at all.
Closure blinds them to the reality of things.
And it blinds us too.
The concept is simple by definition. The act or process of closing something or the condition of being closed. The psychology behind this concept, however, this cognitive need for certainty, this deeply rooted yearning in all of us for absolute resolution is far more complex, especially on a spiritual level.
Consider, for example, open-ended stories.
Those artsy, dramatic pieces where the conflict builds until the audience is salivating for that come-together ending even more than the overpriced-but-insanely-good buttery popcorn.
Then nothing comes.
Forget a happy ending. No closure comes at all.
What manifests instead is an uncomfortable, twisting, tug-of-war tension that takes captive the heart and mind. It forces the audience to mull over details, to ponder possibilities, to participate in the drama for a long time to come. Like an Infinity War run amuck. Thank you, Russo brothers and the Marvel franchise team.
You see, embedded within closure (or the lack thereof, to be precise) is powerful motivation. A strong magnetic pull to know more. A deep desire to seek out greater meaning, significance, truth than what has previously been known.
Solomon understood this irony when he penned Proverbs 25:2: “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings” (NIV).
And what glory it is.
To lack closure. To be motivated to spiritually “search out a matter” as Solomon describes.
It arouses curiosity. It kindles creativity. It promotes purposeful contemplation and encourages problem solving. It also pries open the soul exposing its raw and vulnerable places in desperate need of God’s touch. Like a trusty pair of pliers, the absence of closure forces the heart and mind open in an earnest position of readiness.
A position to receive, to learn, to change, to grow.
And that is a glorious thing.
I remember one summer night in my youth when fireflies and inquisitiveness were both in abundance. All I wanted to do was capture those glowing tizzies, so I borrowed an empty mason jar and collected as many as I could. I sealed them in, of course. For their protection, their security. But when I did, the little creatures stopped glowing. They would not fly. Instead they hunkered down, closed their wings, shut themselves off from their God-given glory.
I remember another time, a little younger, when I sat in a worship gathering as music played and voices sang. In my innocence, I felt something. A brush of God’s presence, perhaps? A whisper from a voice like the one young Samuel heard? I don’t know. But I do know I wanted to raise my hand as I had seen my father demonstrate so many times before. So I counted to five as children do, and I did it. I raised my hand to “The Roll is Called Up Yonder” or some other such fanfare hymn, and to my surprise it was swiftly smacked down like a mason jar lid.
In that moment, I think I learned how immobilizing closure can be. How much it clips us, restrains us. How much it keeps us bound to the shadows of religion rather than the glow of relationship.
So the next time that lack-of-closure feeling rises up, when the reality of the unknown hits you square between the eyes leaving you anxious, desperate, unsure, don’t blind yourself to it. Don’t push the feelings aside.
Rather, pay attention.
It may be God’s call to go deeper.
And deeper still.
It may be His invitation to come and intimately commune with a mysterious, indescribable God. With One whose very words spoke the universe into existence. The One whose breath put life into your lungs. It may be a summons to listen, to gain wisdom from the God whose thoughts are not your thoughts, whose ways are not your ways (Isaiah 55:8).
It may be an offer to receive, to embrace a Father who unconditionally loves. A Comforter who can soothe your heart and answer the burning questions in your soul. And it may be a request to join, to participate in the greatest story of all time. A story still in the process of unfolding. A story guaranteed to have a blockbuster-worthy happy ending.
God, after all, is not close-minded toward us.
And He never “conceals a matter” without purpose.
Like any good and wise teacher, He wants us to see. With clarity, with discernment. With accuracy, with precision. To see the world and ourselves more like He sees them.
Through eyes of love.
And maybe even spectacles of grace.
Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.