John's disciples, who I believe appended chapter 21 after his death, echo the same sentiment when they say: "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." 21:25

Both passages admit to the missing pieces, in fact enough missing pieces to fill the "whole world"! John apparently knows several of the "many other things" to which he alludes but has chosen for some frustrating reason to leave them unsaid. And so it is John's gospel that best points us to the less easy answer.

The missing pieces, the ones we know to miss and the world-filling multitude we don't even know to ask about, do have a purpose, like the spaces between words and the silences between notes of music. They force our imaginations to lean in and listen, to strain, uncomfortably to hear what is so often left unsaid. The missing pieces reinforce the mystery. They beg for our attention. They mock those who would presume to know it all. They provide a space for our vital interaction and supposition. They are invitations for us to participate. They provide a connection to our own lives, which are so often filled with frustrating, missing pieces. In one sense, we can fit into some of the spaces left by the missing pieces. Because, after all, you can't say everything all the time.

So, I believe the invitation is to celebrate the gaps and missing pieces in the story of Jesus and in the story of our own lives. Seek to fill at least some of them with courage and imagination but realize that it requires greater courage still to leave some of the most aching places empty to wait and hope expectantly for His Presence to fill.

From the Study
is a monthly syndicated column by Michael Card.  For more information about Michael Card please visit