“Wouldn’t it be nice if we could see how they would be at the end of the year when we get them at the beginning?” my principal asked me on the last day of school last year. “We could see how they would turn out, how our efforts would be worth it. Don’t you think?”
I nodded. Agreed in the moment during the quick conversation that she was having with me as we stood by the buses and waved at students as they drove off for the last time–until August. Sure, it’d be nice to know how they’d turn it. Wouldn’t it?
I’ve often thought that. Not just about my students, either. Wouldn’t it be nice to know the ending of this or that when it starts? Through the midst of trials, through the balancing of learning how to be yet still desiring how to “ask, seek, and knock”. I’ve wanted to know the end in the beginning.
I’m a sucker for happy and redemptive endings. My friend Kasey is one of those people who can read or watch or look at something that would seem somewhat dark and find the beauty in it even if–most especially if, actually–there isn’t a redemptive or sweet ending.
That’s not me.
It is rare, and I mean incredibly rare, for me to watch something or read a book that won’t have a good ending. I like to know the end in the beginning. I like to know that the two main characters will fall in love and live happily ever after. I like to know that the underdog will rise up, win the championship. I like happy endings.
I guess the beauty in all this is that we, as believers, already know the best ending of all time. We know that Christ has won, that He has defeated death. That is a beautiful ending. It is a privilege to know that in the beginning. To know exactly that He’s beaten Satan, and that when He comes back or calls us home, our ending with Him will be the most precious of endings–and the most glorious of beginnings.
But, what about this life we live while we ache for eternity? What about the endings to the chapters we’re living right now? I know that I’m teaching for another year, but I can’t see much past that. I can’t see past twenty-four. What will twenty-five look like for me? Will Charlotte be where I live out the rest of my days?
I don’t know what the chapter that hasn’t closed yet is for you. For me, it’s being single. It’s wondering if this is how I’ll live the rest of my days. Other times, it’s wondering if I’ll ever write that book I claim I’m going to write. If I’ll teach for thirty-five years or just three. It’s hard to know what’s next. It’s hard to imagine what the end will be. It’s hard to know if all the hard work we put into our lives on a daily basis will ever pay off.
There are two lines from two different songs that keep playing over and over in my head. The first is from an old Caedmon’s Call song called “Table for Two”. The line is: “And You know the plans that You have for me/And You can’t plan the end and not plan the means.” The other is from “Sovereign Over Us” by Aaron Keyes: “You are working in our waiting, sanctifying us.”
I can’t get those promises out of my head, and I don’t think I should. I don’t know the end–or the means–but He’s planned them, and He’s working in our waiting, sanctifying us while we can’t see any of what’s going on. Isn’t that such a great thing to know? To be able to rest in Him, in His work while He plans the end, the means to get there? I’m not saying I don’t still want to know how it’s going to end, but I am saying that I’m thankful that He sees it all, and that He knows the end.
Because if it were all left up to me, I know the end wouldn’t be near as good as whatever it is He has planned for me.