By Debbie Shope
Reading is one of my favorite summer indulgences. I recently finished a relatively harmless mystery novel. I say ‘relatively’ because it had 438 pages but didn’t really tie up all the loose ends until somewhere around page 420. Now, I know being able to keep your reader hanging on for that many pages is a tribute to the author’s prowess. However, this type of writing has ‘real-world’ consequences! With a truly splendid story (this one was fair), I have been known to become absorbed to the point of neglecting hearth and home, and occasionally even health and hygiene! The reason being I want to know the end of the story, the way that it all turns out.
I think this is a very human desire. It is why pregnant women read every day where they are in the development of the baby as if it can make it go faster (at least I did—spoiler alert, it doesn’t work). It is why we binge-watch Netflix, stay up late for the Oscars and the Super Bowl, wait for a text to hear that a loved one has arrived at their destination safely, and relish a task completed. We like closure.
Conversely, we tend to be anxious regarding the unknown. It threatens our sense of security and, for some of us, can be more than a little unsettling. Even so, we find ourselves currently in a climate that is full of uncertainty on many levels. Racial unrest. The economy. Upcoming elections. And let’s not forget the coronavirus, where we don’t even know if we are in the beginning, middle or closing chapters of the story.
But God does. There is a song we sing occasionally that has these words: “I may not know the way I go but, oh, I know my Guide”. I am reminded of these words frequently now. In this time of uncertainty, it is not circumstances or institutions in which I can trust; it is a Person. When I am anxious, God is steadfast (Lamentations 3:22-23). When the world is chaos, God is unchanging (Hebrews 13:8). When I am too numb or weary to figure it all out, or even care to try, God is my strength/sustainer (Psalm 28:7-8, 54:4). And when I am running hard to try and get to the end of this current saga, God is already there.
In fact, in some sense, He is the end of the saga—and has been the beginning and the middle, if I could only see it. In the craziness of this year, as in every moment of my life, God is calling me to Himself. The longer, louder, and stronger my disquiet from the unknown ending, the greater the call of God to come deeper and closer still. It is only in Him that I will make it to the end of the story, finally able to make sense and give meaning to it all. He will turn the last page. In the meantime, I will start a new, 900-page novel!