Have you ever read a book or watched a TV series that started out good, but just fell apart at the end?
When I was younger, I enjoyed reading Douglas Adams’s, “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” series. However, after four books that I enjoyed, the fifth book in this “increasingly inaccurately-named trilogy” was disappointing. I didn’t like the ending.
Later in life, I received a copy of “The Princess Bride” in book form. The same writer wrote both the screenplay and the book, and reading the book was even more entertaining after becoming a fan of the movie (which is rarely the case). But, the book included an extra short story (from the same storyline) at the end, and it just didn’t seem to have the same humor.
I wish that I hadn’t read the ends of both of those books. I feel like I would have been happier not knowing that the last chapters even existed.
In your case, you might only acknowledge three of the Indiana Jones movies, and just deny that a fourth one existed. Or, maybe you followed the TV series Lost (or even Dallas)…but let’s not go there.
However, in real life, even if we know what’s coming, we don’t get to stop before the end of our existence. Regardless of the length of our lives, our eternal future lies ahead. That last chapter has to be experienced.
The wisest king of Israel, Solomon, realized the pointlessness of life without God. He wrote a whole book on it, called Ecclesiastes. (Full disclosure, this is – in my opinion – perhaps the second most depressing book in the Bible, after the one that is literally called, “Lamentations”.)
“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!”
Ecclesiastes 1:2 NLT
However, with God, there is a purpose, a plan, and a positive destination. Our work doesn’t save us (only Jesus’ perfect sacrifice could do that, once we fell short of being good enough ourselves), but it does allow us to obey, glorify, and worship God; as well as to make investments in other people – investments that pay out in eternal benefits for both them and us.
In fact, the king Solomon eventually came to a similar conclusion: that following God was the wisest choice.
That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NLT
The result of following God is to live forever with Him. I like how C.S. Lewis describes Heaven allegorically in the last couple of chapters in the final book of his Chronicles of Narnia, culminating in the following:
And for us, this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.*
Let us make sure that each of us have a life story where – even if some of the chapters are a little scary or don’t turn out the way we want – the ending is a winner.
- From “The Last Battle”, page 184, by C.S. Lewis, (c) 1956. Macmillan Publishing Company, New York.