I was reminded the other day of a conversation I had with my daughter when she was younger.
Out of the blue, she declared, “Dad, when I grow up I’m going to make movies.”
“Well, that’s great! Why do you want to make movies?” I responded.
“I think movies can sometimes be boring so I’m going to make them better.”
This response surprised me a bit since there was a time when my daughter would tell anyone who asked that her favorite pastime was watching TV.
I had to know, “So, how are you going to make them better?”
“Well, they’re boring because you always know how things are going to end--the good guy is going to win. So I’m going to change the ending and let the bad guy win sometimes.”
I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or seize a teachable moment. So, like any good father, I did none of those and changed the subject. “Hey, how about them Royals?”
But my daughter’s observation wasn’t wrong. We often know how the movie is going to end, at least generally speaking. Yet we watch anyway. What’s more, we’re typically engaged in the experience. We feel the tragedy of loss, the tension of the moment, even though we know how things will end.
In life, God has told us the ending. He ultimately conquers death. Pain and sadness will be no more. All of creation will be made new. God gives full, abundant, never-ending life to those who are His. He wins and He shares His glory with His friends. And for those who choose not to honor God or have a relationship with Him, God honors their choice as well. This time the “bad guys” don’t win—God’s justice will prevail.
We know how it ends but we’re living in the middle of the story. And sometimes in the middle, we forget about the ending. Or, like my daughter, the ending fails to excite us. In the middle, we fully experience the stress, tension, grief, sickness as well as the joys and goodness. Christians though, should never forget the ending nor let it become diminished by the view from the middle.
For Christians, the ending only gets better. On the other hand, those who do not trust Christ have only the middle, and it’s the best it is ever going to get. The invitation then is to look to the better ending in Jesus Christ.
With the future in our sights, we should fully live into the middle. When we do, we begin to see that, in Christ, our current sufferings can’t compare to the ending and any joy experienced now is the faintest of shadows of the joy to come (Rom. 8:18).
Kyle Bendorf
First Baptist Church, Fairbury