I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and End. —Revelation 22:13 NIV
“Mom, you’re not reading the ending of that book first, are you?” my daughter asked me one day while I was reading.
“Yes, I am,” I said. “I want to make sure the ending is to my liking. This way I don’t waste time reading something that doesn’t have a happy ending.”
A voracious reader since I could open a book, I can’t remember when I started checking out story endings first. But as an adult, I read the first chapters, and, if the book holds my attention and I just can’t stand the suspense—which is most of the time—I flip to the back and skim the last few pages. I find out if the heroine gets the man she loves, who the villain is, and if the story has a happy conclusion.
Many times I’ve started a book but haven’t finished it because I didn’t like the way it ended. While I can take bittersweet endings, I dislike sad ones. There’s enough trouble in the world. I read to escape from the ugliness of humanity, the dire headlines, the bad news that bombards me all day long.
Even worse than sad endings, though, are “open” endings, where the reader decides how a story concludes. How wishy-washy! I need to feel a sense of closure that the story has come to full circle and is complete. An open ending isn’t really an ending; rather, it’s just a gaping hole where the reader is never satisfied—at least this reader.
Not that I live with my head in the sand or the clouds, and I certainly don’t live a storybook, fairytale life. I’ve got problems too. Reading is my oasis in this desert of bad news. Just for a little while, I can forget the headlines, the heartaches, the dishes, and the dust and immerse myself in something I know will end happily.
There’s another Book I enjoy reading with an ending that fulfills all my expectations, gives me hope, and satisfies my soul: the Bible, God’s Word. Reading it, however, is not an escape from ugly humanity. Instead, I see humanity at its worst. I also see in its time-tested lines the love of the Writer for the ones who rebelled and caused Him and the world so much grief. In the chapter on Calvary, I see God at His best.
But the story doesn’t end at Calvary, or on the first Easter, or on Ascension Day or Pentecost. It doesn’t end with the killing of Stephen or the martyrdom of those first believers. It continues for centuries that stretch into millennia.
And it isn’t a mystery. Rather, the Bible is a love story of a great and merciful God for His sinful, rebellious, obnoxious, selfish, stubborn creation. Penned throughout the saga of mankind are definite clues how this tale will end: The heroine gets the One she loves, the villain is defeated and banished forever, and those who trust in the One who came to save them live happily ever after.
Thank You, Lord, for showing me who the winners are in the drama of man. Thank You for revealing the ending so I may find satisfaction and fulfillment in my life’s story. Amen.
Read and reflect on Revelation 21 & 22.
From God, Me,& a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God, (c) 2017 Michele Huey.