I once wrote these words on a slip of paper and tucked them in my Bible: “Keep reading. It’s not the end of the book.”
I guess I needed a reminder that despite my sufferings, the story wasn’t over. I needed to offer myself a pep-talk, a reminder that God can be trusted, and that there really is a Happily-Ever-After.
Because it’s true. This is not the end of the Book.
Maybe that’s why I swallowed hard when I read chapter four in “The Story of God, The Story of Us.” I know what it means to doubt, mid-story.
Pull up a chair around the campfire, will you?
The old storyteller has returned to the warm glow of flames on logs. But the old man’s story can feel cold and bitter in our ears. We hear of a heart-hardened pharaoh, plagues and the blood of a Passover lamb. The old man by the fire recalls the story of the Lord striking down the firstborn in Egypt, except for the Israelites who put blood on the doorposts as a signal for the Lord to “pass over” their homes.
If it sounds horrific, that’s because it is. But it’s also a part of our collective story as the people of God.
Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there, does it?
For you and I, hindsight offers near-perfect vision. We know what happens next, because we live on this side of the Cross. The folks around that campfire had never heard the name Jesus of Nazareth.
Pull in closer to the fire, and listen to the prophetic words of the old storyteller: “… All of creation is in exile – east of Eden. … We need a new exodus from sin. An exodus that not only frees the oppressed from being oppressed, but that also frees the oppressors from being oppressors.”
A child pierces the silence with the question: “How many lambs will that take?”
The old storyteller responds: “I do not know, son. I do not know.”
And I want to jump into the pages, and stand up by the campfire and tell them the rest of the story.
I want to tell them how many lambs it will take. Just one.
I want to let them know that there really is an answer to our sin problem — and His name is Jesus Christ. And he’s coming for them. He really is.
But the people around the campfire are somewhere between Eden and a cross. And I’m here, in 2010, somewhere between a cross and a Second Coming.
They are still mid-story.
And I guess, I am, too.
Even here – with the security of a cross and an empty tomb and a promise that He will come again – I still need to know that the story isn’t over. I still need a handwritten reminder in my Bible that says: “Keep reading. It’s not the end of the Book.”