I like happy endings. I like the manipulative swell of music as the handsome stock broker kisses the quirky girl with the glasses and bulky sweater. No make-over needed. I like resolutions. And redemption.
But I also respect real. Real is “Braveheart”. Real is the handsome stock broker insult-coughing “loser” as the quirky girl passes him in the coffee shop. Real is a slammed door and things left unsaid. Real is the guy on the street corner who spews forth hateful things about passersby. About the world. About Jesus.
There’s hope for him, though. He could still give me a happy ending, with a crescendo of violins, as he accepts Christ into his heart. There’s always hope. Even amidst the real.
My friend, Lady Di, says that, “Hope is the rope that pulls you through.”
Sometimes I need that rope like when life crumbles beneath me and I fall into a pit. Pit music is Jaws swimming toward the boat. Or Michael Meyers in a hockey mask lurking outside the babysitter’s window.
But Jesus always meets me in the pit. He walks with me, like He did with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fire. He reminds me He is the Way. They Way up and out.
The other day, I was reading Second Timothy and came across Paul’s warnings about the last days. His warnings are not about wars or rumors of wars, or weather patterns, or diseases, or famines. His warnings are about the types of people who will be prevalent. Let me just say, it ain’t pretty folks. It’s definitely not 1980-US-hockey-team-beating-Russia-at-the-Olympics melodies. Or Marlin-actually-finding-Nemo orchestral swells. Paul doesn’t sugar coat. Paul tells it like it is. Paul is real.
Real can be hard to swallow sometimes. So I flipped Paul’s words and turned them into words of hope to pull me through.
I read somewhere that if people actually followed “The Golden Rule” (Luke 6:31), then they would keep the commandments. At the core of The Golden Rule is love. It is love seasoned with respect, consideration, and seeing the person—actually seeing (without judging) a living, breathing, sin-filled person who is not more or less than you are. Love, respect, consider, and see others. But cling to them? No. Paul is basically telling us not to live in a fantasy world where everyone skips along, Journey-Adele-mash-up-performing their way to a happy ending. As we know, not everyone gets a happy ending. There are even “Christians” who will prophesy in Christ’s name and perform miracles but Christ won’t know them.
Paul wants us to be able to spot those who claim to know Christ, who wear the cloak of innocence with the heart of a wolf beating underneath. He wants us to recognize Pyrite people. They might look like the real thing, but they are merely a cheap imitation. They live by the Fool’s Golden Rule.
Peter tells us that we have great joy ahead of us despite all the trials we will endure while here. He tells us that “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold” (1 Peter 1:7). I want my faith to be genuine, to be real. That is what will “bring [me] much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world” (1 Peter 1:7b). An eternity with Christ is the ultimate Happy Ending with a chorus of angels singing me Home.