I knew the girl, but not her story, yet I could relate to her disappointment. I’m a huge fan of happy endings in movies, in books…and especially in life. But things don’t always work out that way. Loved ones die despite the best medical science can offer, relationships sometimes end on an unpleasant note, and doors slam shut on even the best-laid plans.
Too often we are then consumed with sorrow and loss over our lot in life. While grief is understandable and even to be expected, lingering depression over any situation is self-destructive and defeating. Yet once pulled into its web, it clings to us and seems to resist our best efforts to shake ourselves free.
Perhaps the problem is with our perspective. When such events occur our natural feeling to think that our lives are over and done, and mentally we close the book on our future and set it down. We give up hope for happiness and fulfillment because that which we longed for failed to come to pass.
Yet if we haven’t experienced a happy ending in a situation, perhaps it’s because we’ve not yet reached its end. As long as there’s breath in our bodies, our stories continue on. Each day brings a turning of the page as a new chapter unfolds before us, filled with characters and plot lines written in Heaven, but not yet experienced on earth. Opportunities for joy await us if we will bravely step into the future that lies ahead.
To a large degree we write our own happy endings. We can’t dictate the hand we are dealt, but we can choose how to play it. Life is simply a progression of choices we make that lead us in one direction or another. We can’t win if we fold. Better yet to turn another card and see what we can make of the next card in the deck.
Unlike a card game, however, life is not a game of chance. Every detail has already been scribed by the hand of a loving Father Who wrote and therefore sees our story in its entirety, while we simply struggle on, page by page. I’ve given up on many a book I’ve been reading because I didn’t understand or appreciate where the author was leading me. Yet there are some writers that I will stick with no matter what because I know from past experience that the story will come together in the end. Even more do I trust the Author of Life as He pens around even the difficult spots in my life to bring events to a happy conclusion, as He promises in His Word to do.
Sometimes we have to fight to bring those happy endings to pass. As if in illustration of this point, I came home from work last night to find that our puppy had shredded the bestseller I was currently reading. While relieved that for once it hadn’t come from the library, I was yet horrified at the thought of not being able to see how the story ended! The cover was torn into a million little bits scattered over the living room floor, the back ripped off, pages torn out. Quickly I gathered up the latter and examined the ruined remains. To my relief, while battered and chewed, the pages were still readable, and while the last page was temporarily missing, I located it in the litter around me and found that with a little tape it could be salvaged.
Some days end with our hopes and dreams similarly lying in scattered disarray about our feet. We have to dig through the wreckage of broken pieces to find what can be salvaged…a place to begin again from, a hope to build on. When we bring that remnant to God and place it at His feet, we find over time that He somehow is able to make all things work together for our good.
As the year draws to a close it’s a good time to consider that the story of our lives could well be doing the same. God wrote our beginning when He created us in our mother’s womb, and He had a plot line in mind before we were even born. But He allows us to chose the ending, a decision that will largely determine how things work out in the middle. He pre-wrote one possibility when He sent His Son to die for our sins, reconcile us to Himself and make Heaven available once more upon accepting Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. Rejecting that offer, we can choose to continue to go our own way and accept the consequences that follow. No matter what dark turns our stories may have taken, a positive outcome is always within the realm of possibility.
Recently a young mother came through my check-out lane in the grocery store with her two little girls, the older of which was tickling the younger one seated in the front of the cart. Their delighted laughter filled the air and caught the attention of all of us standing near. I mentioned to the mother how great it would be to bottle up that happiness and offer it to a world so stressed and miserable and in desperate need of the same. And that is exactly what God has done in the gift of His Son.
On and on their laughter went, rolling waves of joy that absolutely arrested us, giving us no choice but to stop all our busyness for a minute and smile. As I did so, I heard His voice whisper in my ear, “That’s what Heaven sounds like.“ A happy ending, indeed.
May we similarly stop for a moment as the year draws to a close and let this thought tickle our imaginations: The happy ever-afters we so long for could be just one choice away.
“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 1:6 NIV)
(Philippians 1:6 NIV)