The End. It feels so final, so over, so done. When the story concludes and the lights come on and we are left trying to collect our trash and move sluggishly towards the exit signs. A story, a life’s work, a life’s journey or a day’s hike all wrapped up in a nice two- hour package and then presented with a bow of lights, camera, action on top to make it legit. Two hours of entertainment and a good ending. Maybe it is this concept of quick endings that has crept into our gauge of normalcy that has affected our view of the long road, or to be more specific, life’s journey.
Recently, I was enjoying a great glass of wine and discussing those things in life that really matter with a person that really matters all while sitting where we could see the sun go down through tall, glass windows in beautiful Georgia. We both shared similar stories of friends, loved ones, who had known the truth of God and then decided to somehow……walk away. Walk. Away. Turn completely around and declare what once was truth is no longer, what once was living water had dried up and become nothing but dust and wind. It is a hard thing to see. To watch as one stands in the rain where abundance flows and then turn to see the dry, arid, death of the desert and choose to walk there instead. Because it seems more real? Because it seems more practical to be thirsty and dry and surrounded by the buzzards of a cruel, hard world that circle you until death? Because the truth of the hard desert, of the lonely road must be more true than the peace of God?
I have watched this happen. I have watched a man who loved the Lord, a man who moved the earth with prayer and song, a man with purpose and calling, starve at a table full of food because he put down his fork and knife and started to question if the food in front of him was real without eating another bite. He sat at the table of the Lord, ate and was full, learned and changed, was healed and cleansed, and yet he still pushed his chair back after many years and walked. away.
This is not an unexplained phenomenon to the Lord. It is no surprise, no loop hole in the plan. Jesus knew what fickle creatures we are. Over and over he warned us to protect the heart, to abide in Him, to stay connected to the vine so that we do not wither and die.
Here is where the two-hour movie approach to theology causes a problem. Many will want to lament that my dear friend’s time at the table of the Lord was not effective enough, or didn’t really change him, or was just a season in his life but not transformation. That his walk with the Lord is over. I do not see this in the word. Stories are so much longer in the Lord, so much broader and deeper than a simple two-hour movie. Look at Israel, the prodigal son, and Moses.
Moses was born into God’s chosen people. Born for purpose and calling, to rescue and set free. He was born a child of God, raised in a stranger’s house with shadows and lies as gods and seemingly separated from the Lord. He murdered a man and fled to the desert for 40 years. In movie terms, that looks like the end of the story. Manis born, man grows up rich and pampered, man murders another man and runs away never to be seen again. The. End.
But God is not a respecter of our movie theology. The. End. does not define him or hold him captive. The.End. is an opportunity for the Lord to start working, to start reviving life and to break through the rules of this earth to bring what was dead to life again. When Jesus died on the cross, many thought that was THE END. It was actually the opposite. It was the beginning. Where the world says it’s the end, the Lord is just beginning.
It is not the end of the story, just because your child, your friend, your husband chooses to walk away from abundance and truth and into the desert of disbelief. Do not believe it. Do not claim it as truth. Hold fast that the Lord is faithful to complete what He has begun. He has not turned the lights on and started rolling the credits just because it seems hopeless and final to you. That is when so often the Lord starts us on the journey to Him. He begins the true story when the world says the story is over.