A happy ending?
Whether you like to read books or prefer to watch it when it comes out as a movie, probably most of us prefer stories with a happy ending. What does it take for a story to have a happy ending? Many that have been told end with the good guys defeating the bad guys. It’s a happy ending when the heroes beat the villains, the underdog team wins the championship, the down and out become rich and successful, and the guy gets the girl.
Or, in the case of every Hallmark movie ever, the girl gets the small-town guy in the flannel shirt and three-day old beard, instead of the clean-cut city guy she almost married who always wears a suit (I told my wife this past December that I feel secure in our marriage because I live in a small town and own flannel). I know, for some reason I don’t understand, some people like to cry in the middle of the book or movie. But I’m guessing even those who don’t consider it worth their time, unless they’ve gone through half a box of Kleenex, still probably prefer it to end happy.
Happy endings sell books and movies because happy endings make us happy. So, suppose someday in the future, someone writes a biography of your life – will it have a happy ending? How can we know when (as far as we know) we haven’t gotten to the end of our story yet?
Please consider these words from Jesus in Matthew 16:24-26, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Would you consider your biography to end happy if, in some way, you died with more toys than every rival you’ve ever had? Or would it be that you win the lottery and get to spend the rest of your life in luxury and buying yourself anything you want? Maybe you’re thinking you’d need to accomplish all your hopes and dreams to have a happy ending to your story? Or some politician finally listens to you and follows your advice to get us out of the mess we’re in?
Something many books, other than the Bible, don’t take into consideration is that the story actually doesn’t end with this life. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 16:26 that even if we got everything we ever wanted in this life, and yet lose our soul, we really haven’t gained anything! This life is short. But our soul is eternal and once our time on this earth is done, our soul will continue forever in either heaven or hell. And the only thing that makes a difference between those two options is whether or not we’ve taken up our cross to follow Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
What Jesus means by taking up our cross is to realize that knowing and following Him is so important that we’re willing to die as martyrs for Him, if it would come to that. And He is that important because He is God and is worthy of every bit of worship and glory we can give Him! He’s that important because Jesus took up His cross and willingly died there in the place of sinners, so that if we repent and believe in Him alone, we receive forgiveness and eternal life with Him in heaven.
Our story during this life could be very sad, or uneventful, or full of ups and downs. But where does your story go from here? Achieving everything you’ve ever wanted in this life is not a happy ending if your soul doesn’t belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. On the other hand, even if nothing goes the way you want it to in this life – but you know Jesus, and He knows you – your happy ending will be eternal joy!
Romans 8:18 says this, “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
That “us” is “us” who are trusting in Christ alone for our salvation – and we wouldn’t trade it for anything!