Have you ever read the publisher’s teaser for a book and then guessed how it would end? I did this recently with a historical fiction book. The twists and turns of the book were different than I anticipated, but the beginning was as the book summary declared, the climax exceeded my expectations, and the happily-ever-after ending was as I’d guessed before I’d begun. I read the last few pages twice, because I was both eager to find out the end and sad that the book was over already.
After I finished this book, I began to think about my own life. If I become famous one day and have a biographer tell my tale, they would probably include a sentence toward the beginning like: “and then Amanda worked various jobs during the decade after graduating from high school.” The book would continue on with the story of how I became a famous whatchamahoozy.
But if you were to read a book about my life thus far (these ten years since high school), I fear it would be boring. I haven’t risked my life on secret missions or fallen in love with the soldier whose life I saved; I haven’t endured life-shattering tragedies or overcome seemingly-insurmountable odds, though these things happen in books.
In my opinion, I haven’t really done anything climatic with my life yet. What if something fatal happens to me this week, and I die without my life story ever having a climax and exciting conclusion? What if I have my life-altering climax this week, and then live to be a hundred years old without another book-worthy plot line? Would it render my life worthless?
In each book read and movie watched, we wait breathlessly for that against-all-odds triumph. We all share in the bitter-sweetness of a happy ending - good things happened, but now it’s over. We smile at the constancy of true love and shed a tear when forgiveness reunites the main characters. We might even imagine ourselves to be the main character or heroine who lives happily ever after.
Upon our very souls is etched
this longing for redemption.
God knew this about us; actually He was the one that made us this way. Each of us has been given the role of the main character in a real-life love story of redemption. But we downplay this part of our lives and try to emphasize the temporal. We think our life’s great climax will be finding a spouse, establishing a successful small business, traveling to a foreign land, raising the most obedient children ever, becoming Instagram-famous, buying our dream house, or whatever it is you lay awake wishing for at night.
But every twist in this life is merely a plot point, and not the climax. Our longing for redemption is already fulfilled in the salvation Christ offers; our life’s grand climax is meeting our Savior face-to-face.
Did you guess that I was going to say that?
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart
of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.1 Corinthians 2:9
The plot line woven through scripture and into our very being is the unlikely story of true love. We are unlovely at birth, born already scarred by sin and exuding everything opposed to holiness. We begin life in the mire and in need of a rescue. Before we even acknowledge it, we are wooed by our Love with undeserved chances and unexpected blessings.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way;
and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.Isaiah 53:6
Like a proud and foolish leading lady, we may repeatedly reject the proffers of love unceasing. Then with a change of heart and a dose of humility, we return to the Lover of our Souls to see if forgiveness and restoration can still be had. What awe when we realize that not only is forgiveness granted, but love in depths unimaginable is freely given! Our rejection has cost Him greatly, yet the cost has not caused Him to turn His back to us or retract His grace. Why has this great Lover chosen me, an unworthy and oft ungrateful silly girl?
This is the greatest of all love paradoxes; that we would be so unlovable and that He would be so infinitely loving.
We love him, BECAUSE he first loved us.1 John 4:19 (Emphasis Added)
Why do we get so caught up in the twists and turns that life throws at us, worrying that it could alter the ending? Friends, we already KNOW the conclusion! When we reach our happily-ever-after in heaven, it won’t be for mere seconds until it’s time to roll the credits and the screen goes black. It is literal joy and peace and restoration forevermore - the happiest happily-ever-and-ever-after-for-eternity. The hymn writer said it best when these words were penned, “The things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
I am not the author of my story, nor are you the author of yours. The story is already written, AND we already know how it ends! It is even better than we could have guessed!