Devotion - May 1

[Psalms 1-5, Proverbs 1, Revelation 21-22]

I read the endings of books.

Not always – but very often. It has a pragmatic reason. If I’m not really finding myself very interested in the book, I scan the end to see if it will be worth it. I’ve found that if I wasn’t interested in the first third of the book the ending really doesn’t make any difference.

And then there are the books I am really, really interested in – so interested that I’m unable to put it down and go to sleep like a real grown up would do – so I peek at the end. Usually it’s a quick scan to see if the people I’m so invested in are still around at the end. And yes, sometimes I actually read the whole last chapter – and it has never discouraged me from reading the entire book. It just helps me sleep at night.

(Based on face to face conversations after I make this admission, I’m sure at least one of you is thinking, “does she even do this with mysteries?!” Of course. Not always, but often. A girl’s got to sleep.)

What does this have to do with pandemic? Or faith? Just this: I wonder how you are sleeping?
Here is what I love about the gospel: we know the end of the story. Spoiler alert – Jesus returns. Which means justice and healing and restoration and resurrection and the renewal of all things. It’s like the Jesus Storybook Bible says – the day when everything sad becomes untrue, even death. Which really was said earlier by John in Revelation 21:4-5 –

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

And while there are some people who act as if the second coming will be a do-over, with no relation to this life and choices, the Bible warns them this is silly and dangerous. When you read Revelation 21-22 it is clear that the choices in this life matter. We can live into Jesus’ words and ways – the words of eternal life as Peter called them (Jn. 6:68) – by holding on to Jesus’ promises and commands. By remembering that whether it is chaos or calm, we hold on to hope and forgiveness and telling the truth and keeping our word and patience and all the normal one foot in front of the other following the way of Jesus sorts of things. It reminds me of Sam Gamgee’s words in the Lord of the Rings (which I just finished once again):

“I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.”

We are in a great story. The plotline at moment isn’t what we expected – but what of it? The ending is unaltered…
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