“You’re one of those people aren’t you!?” my husband looked at me, incredulous.
Turns out, after four years of dating and eight years of marriage we still have some stuff to learn.
“Yes, I am. I’m not ashamed and I’m not going to change” I replied, processing my reasoning as I spoke the words. It’s something I’ve always accepted about myself—but until this moment—I hadn’t processed why. I pursed my lips, my eyes searching the textured ceiling for a response. “It gives me…a boundary of sorts. A sense of security.”
We were discussing, of course, reading ahead to the end of a story.
I’ve always been a bookworm. A nerdy type, who, as a child, had books taken away instead of being grounded. Characters come alive to me as my imaginary friends. Especially as a child, but occasionally even as an adult, I become inconsolably grouchy after finishing a series or saga, reeling with the disappointment that my wide world has shrunk back down to reality.
I didn’t start out as the skip-to-the-end type, but sometime around the fifth or sixth grade I started reading Cheaper by the Dozen and mentioned it to an older, wiser, bookworm. They “didn’t want to spoil it” but implied a sad ending. I loved this memoir but was just entering into the emotional unraveling we refer to as “puberty” and my already delicate heart didn’t need any more fodder for meltdown. I read ahead, prepared my heart, and thus began a lifetime of peeking at the final chapter.
Lest you start to judge me, let me argue a bit more in my defense. I read the ending not so I may set the book aside and skip to another, but to enrich the middle. Once I know how the story will end I know how my emotions will be pulled. I find security in this. A good writer includes twists and turns throughout the plot, but I face these knowing that eventually the lost princess will be found (or eaten!), the grandfather will die peacefully after reconciling with his estranged family, or the lost item will remain lost but the seeker will find true contentedness.
As humans, we are sent to walk on earth for a time. Very little of our life is guaranteed, and even some of those “for sure” plans disappear. We may dream of marriage and family, may or may not happen (or happen in a way we do not expect), a career we spend our lives preparing for may become obsolete or unattainable due to unforeseen circumstances. We may live a quiet, faithful life and be suddenly affected by chronic pain, food allergy, change in economic status, disability, or unplanned pregnancy.
But followers of Christ know how the story ends.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:1-4 ESV)
At the end of the story, God will draw us to him. As Sally Lloyd-Jones puts it, “everything sad will come untrue.” Not because of anything we have done, but because of what Jesus already did.
If the middle of the story feels scary and unknown to you today, I challenge you to skip to the end. Read the book of Revelation. Maybe grab a commentary or a wise friend to help navigate the imagery.
The middle is a mystery but the end is assured.
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.