I have a dirty secret.
I often read the last page(s) of a novel before I have even started it. Or sometimes after I'm a couple of chapters in. I just want to make certain that the commitment is going to be worth it. I don't want to become emotionally invested in characters who will just disappoint me. I absolutely do not want to think that I'm following a story line that is tired and overdone. So I just peek, make sure it's ending in a way that will feel resolved.
I so wish I could do that in real life.
I am a born-again Christian. Jesus walked into my life 14 years ago when I said, "I do," and he has never left my side. I can recount time upon time when his love rescued me, sometimes from myself, sometimes from others who had left me wounded. He has never failed me.
Yet, there are still times that I find it hard to trust him. There are times that I want to read the last page.
I mean, I know how THE story ends but I want to know how my story ends. I want to know what kinds of twists and turns it will take, I want to know that my commitment is worth it. I want to know that the characters I am emotionally invested will not disappoint me. I want to be certain that the storyline will be exciting (but not too exciting) and that it won't be tired and overdone. I want the assurance that my story will come to a peaceful close around my 100th birthday after a long day in my garden with my kin gathered around singing "I'll Fly Away".
God, though, in his infinite wisdom does not want me to know the end of the story. He desires that I live that story trusting in him. My God desires that I not know the twists and turns of my story or where it will take me. The God that I serve asks that I embrace the characters he places in my life, that I accept the fact that I most certainly will be disappointed, and that I accept that I will do a fair amount of disappointing myself.
Fortunately God never says that trusting him looks serene and holy.
The education of the Christian is not passive, it's not easy, and it's not neat and tidy. Point A rarely leads directly to Point B. The education of the Christian involves a healthy combination of work and failure - with an emphasis on the failure. Learning from mistakes is part of it, but even more than that is learning to trust God in the midst of what looks like a failure to to the world. For me, the heart of Christian education is learning that is not our happiness that God desires, but our holiness. He will do what needs to be done to get us to that place.
It baffles my brain that I have struggled so much with trust because I have never been given any reason not to trust Jesus. I was been born in a country where freedom comes easily, in a family where love is in abundance, and in a life where hard work is a choice. I have met people from other countries where the best meal of the day is a piece of bread with a smear of peanut butter on it and yet they seem to have the whole trust thing down really well.
I have to wonder if it is all of the choices that I have at my disposal that muddle my mind and make difficult the most important decision: to trust Jesus.
That's just it, though, isn't it? Trust is our choice, every time, every day.
So maybe that's the secret.
Give yourself no other choice.
It's totally worth the commitment of not knowing the end of the story.