If you’re a fan of animation, particularly of the Disney genre, you will know my approximate age when I tell you that I remember going to see the Disney Renaissance movies in theaters for their original releases. After a couple of decades of poorly reviewed films, the animation department released hit after hit: The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Aladdin.
I loved the adventure described in each plot, but it was the romance that kept me coming back for more and made me a fan for life. Still loving these movies, you can find me curled up on the couch with or without my daughters, munching on popcorn and engrossed in these films I have seen dozens of times. I can literally recite many of them, line-by-line from memory.
My favorite fiction books, sitcoms, dramas, movies – whatever mode of being told a story – all have one great thing in common. They all end the way that they are supposed to end. Yes, many if not most of the time the endings are incredibly predictable. The iconic phrase “Happily Ever After” may even scroll across the screen or be typed at end of the final page.
This idea of how things are supposed to be, the ending we all long for is actually a grace given to us by our Creator. We are supposed to look around at our world, at our lives and come to the same conclusion – things are NOT the way that they should be. This longing for justice and happy endings and everything to be neatly tied with a bow, is an internal compulsion that forces us to seek answers and to work to make things better.
It is in this seeking for answers and working for better that I have found purpose and meaning to my life and to all the crazy that is within it. As I walk with Jesus and grow in my relationship with Him, through His Word and prayer and His work inside of me, I have found the answers I need and the source of all that is good.
Don’t get me wrong – my life is not easy, but it is easier than some, and often there are more why’s in my prayers than thank you’s, but I trust the One with the answers. The more I learn and know of Him, the more faith I have in His power and His ability to redeem the failures in my life and make sense of the chaos around me.
There are relationships in my life that are not what I would want them to be. Parenting is hard and I know from years of student ministry that there are no guarantees or warrantees on particular methods. I am often failing and my fears of not being up to the task at work, at home, and/or at church keep me longing for the day when my strivings shall cease and I will no longer be forced to face life in this fallen place.
Honestly, this morning after trying to parent two in our church pew for disobedience during the church service and feeling completely unsuccessful in my attempt to worship, I had to leave the service to check my makeup. As the deacon prayed the offertory prayer, I slipped out of my seat to find I didn’t look like the total mess and fraud I felt like.
Call it spiritual warfare or my own lack of faith or some kind of combination of both, but when I left the service this morning I felt defeated.
I want the ending now. I know it is coming, the day when Christ returns or calls me home, when everything is set right and good triumphs over evil and all is truly well with my soul – however it is God that chooses to bring this present age to its conclusion.
In the meantime, I am struggling with my perspective on it all.
Somedays I feel entitled to certain endings to specific “storylines” in my life. Somedays I just want to wash my hands of the job, the ministry responsibility and the relationship. Somedays I just want to escape into a Disney movie with a box of Sour Patch Kids AND a Milky Way Midnight, pretending like this isn’t my reality at all.
Yet, I know that God is at work. He isn’t wasting my time or His as I wait for the conclusions of it all. He has an intentional plan as He is actively working in all these “plot lines” of my life and those of all of us who are called according to His purposes. He is in the seemingly insignificant details and in the major twists too – both of individuals and of nations.
It is all bigger than me. Yes, it is war – there are forces unseen locked in battle all around. But it is His grace that is evident in it all.
It is grace that things are not right and good and easy in life SO I will seek Him, acknowledging my need for Him and my dependance on Him.
It is grace that He uses these same circumstances to make me more like Him, cultivating His fruit within me and somehow using me for His desired and determined outcome.
It is grace that He is leading me to accept, yes at times with heartache, that things are not as they should be.
It is grace that will eventually let me see ALL His promises fulfilled and experience the most epic of “Happily Ever Afters” that there will ever be.
In the meantime, at this point in the story – I seek Him, trusting Him by attempting to loosely embrace the brokenness around me. I pray that then He can bring even more beauty from these acknowledged ashes, and that He will use my awareness of the effects of sin in my life in ways that I cannot begin to fathom so that He will receive all the recognition – because, simply put, this is NOT the way that I would do things.
It is all from and for and to and through Him. This is my better-than-Disney ending.
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