I love a good movie. I love the way a storyline twists and turns, taking my imagination a thousand different directions before tying all the loose ends together–shocking me with surprise witnesses, unexpected events, and out-of-the-blue revelations. The better the suspense, the better the movie. Yeah, I like a story that keeps me perched on the metaphorical edge of my seat wondering how it will all turn out. Don’t be predictable! Keep me on my toes! Make my heart beat a little faster!
That is, as long as it has a happy ending.
You see, I don’t mind a little stress and nail-biting for the sake of the plot, provided it all works out in the end. For me, the happy ending erases all the trauma that unfolded and nearly caused me to hyperventilate mid-story. Yep, there are certain predictable outcomes that suit me just fine.
Guy gets girl.
Bad guy gets caught.
And so I turn off the TV satisfied because it all ended on a happy note. What more could I want? I can go on with my life now, content and at peace. My faith has been restored! Maybe if all the problems get resolved in the movie the same will be true for me.
I recall one movie that took me completely off guard. There was no resolution. No one got the girl because … well, in the end, they were all dead. I was devastated and sorry I had wasted my time even caring about the characters and cheering for one of them to prevail (RIP Leonardo DiCaprio). I prefer leaving the theater feeling hope for mankind and a brighter future. Movies that end with a gut punch? Not so much.
Here’s the reality. We all wish for happy endings in real life. Right now, on this side of heaven, we are smack dab in the middle of the movie, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve had about enough plot twists to last me a lifetime. What serves as great entertainment in the theater makes for some pretty awful real-life scenarios. I’m done with cliffhangers, drama, and suspense!
Lucky for you and me, this story isn’t over yet. As long as we have breath in our bodies, we get to watch these scenes play out with anticipation and hope that things might improve. The problem? I want to write the script. I much prefer to be the one in charge of the surprises, the twists and turns, the character development, and the grand finale. I’ve got lots of ideas about how this thing should turn out, how all the problems could be resolved, and how I can ensure it has a happy ending. Okay, so I don’t get to be the screenwriter. Could I be an editor, then? Could I delete certain scenes that I deem unnecessary for the overall storyline? Ah, it doesn’t work that way. I’m not in charge … and that’s actually a good thing.
I’m reminded of Romans 8:28: “And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose” [AMP]. Sounds good on paper, in any version of the Bible. Could I possibly believe it might be true? What if I could keep watching this movie with absolute confidence that God’s ideas for this story surpass my own? We might have a real blockbuster on our hands.
Here’s the bottom line. God is a better writer than me and He is a better writer than you. He can take the most dark and dire scene, the one where it seems like everyone is doomed, the one where it appears that death is certain, the one that points to utter failure and defeat, and He can weave it into a storyline that morphs its way into one of purpose, hope, and redemption. Trust me. You WANT Him to handle this assignment. You are not wise enough or creative enough or brave enough to handle the twists and turns. Oh, but He can.
Look at Moses or Ruth or Esther or Paul. Perfect stories about perfect people living perfect lives? Not by a long shot. Did Moses’s teeth chatter as he stared at the vast Red Sea with the sound of thundering of horses’ hooves fast approaching behind him? Did Ruth believe that her life was over when her beloved husband died and she moved to a foreign land with, of all people, her mother-in-law? Did Esther dare to dream she would escape Haman’s plan unscathed when she donned her best gown and crept with knocking knees into the king’s throne room? Did Paul envision a vibrant traveling ministry and worldwide acclaim as a published author when he and Silas were beaten bloody and jailed unjustly? All of these stories had moments where it appeared all hope was lost, that things had gone too far and a happy ending seemed impossible.
But God … He knew what to do. He blew a wind that parted the sea right smack up the middle, arranged for a widow to meet her future husband while gathering grain in a field, made sure the bad guy fell into his own trap, and used an earthquake to break two men out of prison. He didn’t edit those scary scenes out of the movie … he just refused to let them be the end of the story. Steven Spielberg himself couldn’t come up with this stuff.
SPOILER ALERT: God is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. He started this story, and He gets to finish it. For all of us who are His, He promises a happy ending. At the end of my story, guy gets girl, bad guy gets caught, girl wins. Thank God, I already know the ending!! And so I remind myself of this, breathe deep, and hit “play.”