In 2014, I resolved to read the Bible in a year. I did pretty well. I’ve just started November’s reading plan, so I’d say it was 10/12 of a success. I ended up reading Job and Hebrews at the same time, which was a semi-confusing, yet semi-comforting, experience. At the time, I felt some of the despair and questioning of Job, and it was like Hebrews was telling me to wait, hold on, be still, trust. As Job and I were shaking our fists at the heavens, the writer of Hebrews was saying, “Your life is not all there is. There is more you can’t see.” I realized I just wanted to know everything was going to turn out okay.
Slowly, over the course of a few months, I started confronting the myth of resolution in my life. Blame it on too many romantic comedies where plots get wrapped up nicely with a bow or blame it on a childish notion of the world, but I have held in the back of my mind that I will see resolution in every open conflict and loose end.
I think there’s a difference between hoping for resolution and expecting a happy ending. And perhaps expecting it not a great word, because I as I wrote it, I thought about Oswald Chambers’ “breathless expectation” and all of creation “groaning in expectation,” but it’s the word I have on hand. I’m thinking of expecting the way a child expects candy from a grocery trip.
It’s important to distinguish hoping and praying for resolution from feeling entitled to a happy ending story. We are creatures bound by time, so perhaps because we have a physical beginning and end, we want other things to have beginnings and ends that are clear cut. We want things neatly tied up and resolved–we don’t handle messy well. I don’t know why that is. We are inherently messy creatures. I mean, have you ever met someone in complete control of their emotions 24/7?
Maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s the control. If we can see resolution in our story, then we feel some control over our story, and God knows we feel out of control most of our lives. The most controlling people I’ve known are those who feel the least at peace with not being in control.
But seeing resolution within my lifespan is not a right or even a promise. That’s a narrow view of the world and of the Kingdom that’s coming and has already come.
“These all died in faith, not having received the things that they were promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on earth.” Hebrews 11:13
God’s story, God’s plan, God’s Kingdom outlasts my story. It goes beyond my lifespan. My decisions affect others beyond mine and JD’s life. The myth: God is making my story make sense within my own story. The truth: God is working the soil that may not produce for another two or three generations.
Before we get to the faith heroes list, we are urged to hold fast to our hope because God, the Promiser, is faithful. He is fulfilling. And one of our heroes does hope… even though he will not see it come to fruit. He gave his last breath hoping but not seeing.
“by faith Joseph…made mention of the exodus…” Hebrews 11:22
Joseph asked for his bones to be carried out of Egypt. He knew it wouldn’t happen in his life. Going home for him was not an option, but he had hope that outlasted his life. His view extended beyond his own story.
“And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart form us they should not be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:39-40
Our stories all weave together. Their stories are not finished because I am a part of their story. You are a part of their story. I am a part of their legacy. You are a part of their legacy.
My story is not about me. It’s about God and His people. He’s the Great Storyteller, and He’s weaving our stories together. This a perspective-giver. This means that resolution within my life is not important. Those loose ends may need to stay loose so that generations after me can tie them up.
“Therefore [because of the legacy of Hebrews 11], since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
We have confidence and encouragement–Our story is part of a larger story, so let us keep going. We don’t have to slow down and try and pick up the pieces or erect a half-thought out house. Let us run this race. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, who is writing the story of our faith. A child doesn’t try to make everything make sense. She trusts that it will be taken care of, and that’s what we’re doing, too. We’re trusting.
“Therefore since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” Hebrews 12:28
We are becoming a part of and coming into an unshakeable kingdom. Our place is secure. There’s not need for us to control because we can’t see it all. We can’t see what comes after us, we can’t accurately see what’s behind us, and if we’re being honest, we don’t always see what’s around us. Our forced, false resolutions are short-sighted. Perhaps I’ll see promises fulfilled in my lifetime, but perhaps my great-great-great-great-granddaughter will see it fulfilled instead.