What is it about a good story that can keep me up until 2:00 a.m. reading? Sometimes, even a mediocre story can be compelling. There is a human curiosity to find out what happens next. Sometimes, we already know how the story ends, but we can’t wait to find out how that conclusion is reached. Other times, we enjoy the story and the characters so much that we go back to it again and again, even though we know it well. There is no suspense or curiosity, we just enjoy the journey. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read Pride and Prejudice, and I know with certainty that the number of times I have watched the five-hour movie version greatly exceeds that. You can’t underestimate the happiness that can be found in knowing how the story ends.
There is a story I want to write in my mind. I’ve spent the week reasoning with myself, reminding myself how these kinds of stories always end, in reality. Thus far, I have kept myself from getting carried away. Years ago, I realized that letting God do the “story telling” for my life was better than hoping in any plans that I could envision. God is, after all, the ultimate Author. This week, I kept lecturing myself, “Leah, you know how these things always end. . .” It is frustrating to have a high degree of certainty that a situation is not going to turn out the way that you want it to. But in the midst of discouragement, God reminded me that the situation is not the “story” I need to be concerned about. Nor should I let those types of frustrations and disappointments impact my overall outlook on life. While I don’t know what God has planned for the rest of my earthly life, I have His promise of happily-ever-after in the life to come.
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
On a previous occasion, when I wrote about the hope I have in eternity, and how it eases the disappointments of my present life, I had someone tell me that this was a sad mindset. I understand that behind this was a caring desire for me to find more happiness in this life. But I want to explain that knowing how the story ends increases my joy in this life. At the end of the world as we know it, God wins. Those of us who have committed our lives to following Him will live with Him forever. That is a fairy tale ending if ever I’ve heard one! I like being on the winning team, and I like the idea of eternal happiness. How insignificant will today’s cares seem then? We tend to focus on death being how our story ends, but that should not be the outlook of a follower of Christ. We honor Him by knowing that death is just the beginning. There is so much yet to come, and knowing this makes the journey more fun. It isn’t depressing, it is joyous!
Sometimes suspense is fun for a short time, when watching a movie or reading a novel. But living life in suspense about what happens after death is stressful. Living life with the belief that these several decades on earth are all that there is, is the sad outlook. Without the perspective of God’s bigger plan, how could one move forward from the inevitable bad decisions, failures, and disappointments of life? With my tendency toward depression, I would scarcely know how to live at all, under those circumstances. But praise God, as my faith becomes stronger, my joy increases with the promise of what is yet to come. Winning the Super Bowl could never compare to being on God’s team when the Day arrives.
This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken-that is, things that have been made-in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
I know that my life is a mere mist in comparison to what is to come. As short as it is, I sometimes find myself rushing. There are little side stories in my life that I want to know the outcome of. So much for enjoying the journey! I need to stop looking ahead when it comes to earthly objectives. God seems to be teaching me that I need to take each day as it comes and do my best to serve Him in whatever circumstances I find myself.
When all of my silly earthly hopes crumble into disappointment, as they surely will, my soul will be unshaken because I have “a sure and steadfast anchor” that is my hope in Jesus Christ. (Heb. 6:19) The more I focus my life on that which is secure, the less I am affected by the day-to-day disappointments and struggles. I have not yet figured out a way to completely divorce myself from earthly hopes and desires. But, I cling as tightly as I can to those hopes which will not disappoint. I celebrate God’s reminders to me each day, and I use them to try to encourage others, as the Apostle Paul admonished the Thessalonians to do.