Categories: Community, Faith

Amy

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“Is this the end of the movie,” she whispers leaning towards me but keeping her eyes on the screen.

“No, sweetie, this is still the middle,” I whisper back.

Satisfied she doesn’t ask again until near the end.

Question

 

In recent weeks this scenario has repeated itself every time we watch a movie. At first I found it an interesting step in her development and wondered at what point she’d no longer need the clarification, sensing the story she is seeing. As an adult I can easily tell that we are in the middle of the movie – the horse hasn’t won the big race yet, the rat hasn’t gone public with his cooking, or the girl hasn’t learned to live with just one arm.  However, in her six-year-old way, she is echoing what we all long to know: does the story end here? In this mess? Is it going to get better? She is trying to orient herself to what is happening, looking for her “story sea legs.”

She’s not the only one.

What if David’s story had ended when Nathan said, “You are that man.”

What was going through Noah’s mind on day 117 after the rain had stopped and he sees nothing but water?

Imagine Peter’s horror when the rooster crowed. Have I blown it? Does the story end here?

In the middle of a messy story line (aka our lives), we want to know how much longer is this going to go on? Is there any end to this? How do I know where I am in the story? How do I know if this is near the end or if I am only just beginning? Will there be a happily-ever-after?

Unlike a movie that is under time and budget constraints – and often looking for a happy ending—life doesn’t come with such tidy restraints to the plot. If you study scripture looking for exact answers to specific questions about your cancer, this economy, that job, you won’t find them. Instead, we are promised a helper, a comforter, a companion to journey through the ups and downs as the plots of our lives take all kinds of twists. We are given truths that apply, yes! However, the Bible isn’t a magic eight ball.

David did repent, but his child still died and his story continued; it turns out that his conversation with Nathan was nowhere near the end of his story! Noah had thirty three more days before the water started receding, bringing that phase of the story to an end and launching his family into the next phase and more drama. And dear Peter had not ruined everything.

Your story is different than mine, but one thing is sure, our longing to know that we matter, that our story makes a difference and that we won’t be left in this mess are common to all. To these deep longings, Jesus crises out, “It is finished,” assuring that mess doesn’t win in the end. We matter, we are being used, and though we aren’t there yet, some day we will each turn a page in the stories of our lives and read:

The end

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  1. Kat January 6, 2012 at 2:39 am - Reply

    What a great post Amy. You have such a knack for putting things into words. I usually come away from your posts (and our times together) with new insight and new ways of looking at things in a deeper way. I thank God for this gift He has given you my friend!

    • Amy January 6, 2012 at 2:43 am - Reply

      Thanks Kat! I enjoy our times together too! Amy

  2. Kristi Magi January 6, 2012 at 7:54 am - Reply

    All I can say is, “Thank you!”

    • Amy January 7, 2012 at 12:16 am - Reply

      Humbly, you’re welcome! Amy

  3. Marilyn January 6, 2012 at 11:53 pm - Reply

    Love this post! It resonates with the story/narrative theme that’s been going through my head and spills over into my blog. Thanks for the reminder that it does matter, that we may be in that messy middle but as the title of your blog so beautifully puts it – that’s where “grace and truth reside” –

    • Amy January 7, 2012 at 12:16 am - Reply

      Isn’t that the truth! Thanks for the comment. Amy

  4. Andy January 7, 2012 at 2:11 am - Reply

    I really like this one. At our house we say, “If good hasn’t won, the story isn’t over.”

    • Amy January 7, 2012 at 3:18 am - Reply

      I like that! I’ll share it with the girls, thanks! Amy

  5. Erica January 9, 2012 at 11:59 pm - Reply

    I always enjoy your blog, Amy, but this one particularly struck a chord. Thanks for writing the words He gives you! –Erica

    • Amy January 11, 2012 at 2:21 am - Reply

      Erica, thanks for stopping by. I am grateful that God’s at work! Amy

  6. Jessa July 2, 2013 at 2:18 am - Reply

    What about the “where” and “why” questions? (I’m going to ask your forgiveness in advance–I’m in a season of asking questions I don’t like, and tend to sound a little bitter.) The questions that go like this: Where were you, God, when the cult people were forcing me to kill my own baby? and Why did you let a 9-year-old little girl be raped and get pregnant and watch her baby die and be resuscitated and die again and again? And the “If you love me…” questions: If you love me, why did you let my family hurt me so much? or, If you love me, why didn’t you rescue me? Oh, and here’s a big one for me: If God is so good, and he allowed these horrible things to happen to me, allowed me to do such horrible things, how can I come to any conclusion but that I am horribly bad and he couldn’t stand to look at me?

    I hate asking these questions. I hate that I’m challenging what I know to be true in what feels like a really disrespectful way. And I am so afraid of being angry–I fear anger will turn me into the people who hurt me. But I can’t stop the questions from forming in my mind.

    • Avatar photo
      Amy July 2, 2013 at 6:41 am - Reply

      Oh Jessa, I just want to shake my fist (and worse!) at all those who hurt you. You are right, you should have been cherished and protected and celebrated. That is how God wanted you treated (as so why that wasn’t the case, I don’t want to give you trite answers and hope that you have some folks in real life who can wrestle these out with you in ways that allow for more give and take than can be found in a comment section).

      Anger is really a secondary emotion. It can be viewed a bit like the big brother emotion because anger is powerful and assertive and is protecting the “little sister” emotion who is not powerful or able to assert in the way anger can. Often anger is protecting hurt, betrayal, confusion, sadness, loss, (and more in the cases of men, but could be anyone, depression). Reading just the little bit of your story, any one of those would be a VERY reasonable response.

      Please know that God is not afraid of nor unable to handle your questions. Have you read any of Philip Yancey’s writing? He wrote Disappointment with God and Where is God when it hurts. The Psalms and Lamentation might be models for asking the tough questions in ways that keeps you falling in the direction God.

      Truly thank you for your comment!

  7. Jessa July 2, 2013 at 10:45 pm - Reply

    Thank you, Amy, for not giving trite answers or cliches. Thank you, too, for your indignation on my behalf.

    Most of my real-life people are too afraid/overwhelmed by my story to really wrestle this through with me. I have a good therapist, but I only see him 45 minutes a week.

    I know anger’s a secondary emotion. My therapist says I must be angry, somewhere deep inside. I’m so afraid of anger, afraid that if I let myself feel anger, I’ll become like my abusers, that I keep it all locked away. That’s part of what makes these questions so scary for me–not only am I questioning God, but I’m coming uncomfortably close to finding and releasing some of that anger. I think I have to learn to feel anger properly, even though I’d rather just deal with the hurt, betrayal, confusion, sadness, loss, depression and anxiety.

    I haven’t read any Phillip Yancey. I know my sister really likes his stuff, and our taste in books tends to be very different, so I’ve never paid him much attention. I’ll look into those two books, though. I do pray the Psalms fairly regularly. I associate Lamentations more with my miscarried and otherwise deceased babies, more than anything, so that’s where I turn when I’m feeling grief. Lately, God has had me in Isaiah, which has surprised me both with how well it describes some of the things I experienced and how comforting it’s been (chapters 55-57, especially).

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