February 16, 2013 by lellielieb
I love literature. I enjoy movies. I adore history and good conversation with friends. I like all of these things because they involve story. From the time I was old enough to understand stories, I wanted to hear more and more. I especially love stories that end with the good guys getting the best of the bad guys. When the plot is intricate and there are many different threads that have to be brought together at the end, I like it even better. The story of Joseph is my favorite in scripture for just that reason. Joseph wins, Israel wins, God is glorified, there is justice and reconciliation. Beautiful.
But stories don’t always end that way…not on earth, anyway. This has been a difficult concept for me to grasp. I am always waiting for my story to resolve like Joseph’s, but most stories do not. Today I read Matthew 26. It starts with the Pharisees–the bad guys–plotting against Jesus. It continues through the beautiful actions of the woman who pours out her treasured ointment on Jesus at a meal. Some are scandalized. They pull long faces and talk about how much money the ointment could have brought in if it hadn’t been “wasted” on Jesus. Jesus rebukes them gently and explains the woman’s actions, but they won’t accept his words. This is the moment when Judas decides he knows better, when he gets so angry that he, one of the good guys, becomes a bad guy. He goes to the Pharisees and arranges to betray Jesus. No cavalry rides into the story to save the situation. There are no plot twists that end with Jesus avoiding the cross. He came to die, and so he breaks the bread that represents his body, and he gives thanks.
After Hebrews 11 lists all the great heroes of the faith, the last verse says, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us, so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”
Jesus is our ultimate example. The story I’m reading in Matthew isn’t over. We get to see his resurrection and someday we will see his complete victory. So it is with us. Our lives may not end up “happily ever after” here on earth. Sometimes the bad guys appear to win. People get shot, fortunes are stolen, children are abused and neglected and they die. We don’t like this and we worry about the way our stories, and even our current chapters, are going to end. We have to realize that God is the author and that he will tie up all loose ends in his time. Trust is hard but necessary. We must remember and understand the way the faith chapter, Hebrews 11, begins: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see…”