I have a friend who had a children’s Bible when he was little that he loved reading. The only problem was that this hardback version had torn at some point, leaving him with only the first half of the book. It was because of this that my friend thought the Bible ended with a story from the book of Judges.
In this particular story, God’s man Gideon is worried about the battle he was supposed to wage the next day, so God tells him to go down to the Midianite camp and listen to what they’re saying. Gideon overhears one of the men telling about a dream he had. The dream included a round loaf of barley that rolls down into the camp and hits a tent, causing it to collapse. And that’s where my friend’s Bible ended…giant loaves of bread leveling the place. From this, he concluded that’s how the world would end.
Now he’s an adult and knows the rest of the story, thank goodness. If that half of his Bible was all he’d ever heard, he wouldn’t get the guiding star or the water to wine or the rugged cross or the stone rolled away. He wouldn’t know about the church or the letters or the revelations about how the story really ends. Getting the full account is crucial.
Getting the “rest of the story” reminds me of the late radio broadcaster Paul Harvey. Through his suspenseful yet folksy story-telling method, Harvey would weave a tale about the early history of a real person. He would only use a first name or the name this person used to go by or something equally vague. Near the end of his segment, he would reveal his/her identity. “The poor, guitar-playing boy who wasn’t allowed inside was…Elvis Presley!” You listened along to Harvey’s words, because you wanted to know how it ended. You craved that a-ha moment.
As I’ve been reading through the Bible chronologically this year, I’ve had several of those a-ha moments. When you view God’s story as a whole document, well-crafted with the end in mind way back in the lush Garden of Eden, it changes our understanding. When I write my own works of fiction, I map out what will happen so that my story arc continues to chug toward the big finale, but many of the scenes in between develop as I go. This isn’t the case for God. He is the “Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." He’s the Author of every story, beginning to end. My goal is to live like I’m a part of God’s story, instead of relegating God to the role of a minor character in mine.
Author Paul Tripp writes this in his book New Morning Mercies: “Thankfully I am not the author of my own personal story. Your story isn’t an autobiography either. Your story is a biography of wisdom and grace written by another. Every turn he writes into your story is right. Every twist of the plot is for the best. Every new character or unexpected event is a tool of his grace. Each new chapter advances his purpose.” Just as He knit me together in my mother’s womb at my beginning, I have to trust that God holds the ending.