This Sunday we will wrap up a sermon series called “Storyline” in which we have explored how the narrative of our lives intersects with God’s story and helps to move the plot along. You can get caught up on the entire series here.
This series has challenged me to take a step back and examine the many ways in which Jesus has shown up in the storyline of my life and has caused me to look for him more closely in the everyday. It’s caused me to look for ways in which God is working through my story to impact someone else’s. But as the series wraps up this weekend it also has me thinking about happy endings.
During my High School years, my dad was traveling quite a bit for a ministry he was involved in and my mom decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to get some quality girl time with my sisters and me and also to catch up on some of the popular movies she had missed out on in the hustle and bustle of family life.
On the weekends that Dad was gone, she would send my younger sister and me to the video store (yes, I’m dating myself) to pick out a movie on VHS (yes, I’m really that old) for the four of us to watch together. Mom covered the cost and she didn’t even have strong opinions on the movie we watched, but she did have two (very serious, as it turns out) rules of movie picking that we were expected to follow:
- The movie had to be appropriate for my youngest sister to watch with us.
- The movie had to have a happy ending.
Those rules may seem simple and straight forward enough, but remember…I was a teenager….
All went well with our regular girls night/movie nights for several months until one Friday night when my sister and I were in the aisle of the video store and I happened to see the movie Dead Poets Society on the shelf (I told you….I’m old….). Both my sister and I had seen it in the theater and had thought it was a great movie.
“Let’s get this one,” I suggested.
“But it doesn’t fit mom’s rule about happy endings,” my sister warned.
“I know,” I said, “but it’s such a good movie! By the time we get to the end she will be thanking us for broadening her horizons and introducing her to a new genre of deeper, more meaningful films.”
Yeah, I know what you are thinking (especially those of you that know my mom)…..bad idea….
We got home, popped the video in the VCR and enjoyed the first hour of the movie, but as the plot moved along towards the climax and conclusion, my mom started to get visibly nervous.
“Does this movie have a happy ending?” she questioned.
“Just watch the movie, Mom.” I tried to dodge the question.
“This movie doesn’t have a happy ending, does it?!” she demanded.
“Mom! This movie won Oscars….it’s seriously good…..you’re going to love it….just watch!”
“Angela Marie!” (uh oh). “I can tell this movie does NOT have a happy ending!” Then she had a horrifying thought. I could tell by the audible gasp and the terrifying mom look she shot my way, “Does someone DIE in this movie?! Wait! It’s the cute kid isn’t it?! If the cute kid dies at the end of this movie, you are grounded!!!”
Spoiler alert…..the cute kid died…..and I got grounded…..
With the maturity of adulthood, I can now see the error of trying to force my mom to enjoy a movie that didn’t fit her “Happy Ending Rule”. After all, who needs entertainment that is depressing? There’s enough pain and hurt and evidence of brokenness in the world around us on a daily basis. A happy ending in real life is a rare thing so what’s wrong with escaping for 2 hours to a make-believe world where everyone always lives happily ever after? Nothing, I say! Let’s have more happy endings!
This latest sermon series and all the talk of God’s story and our stories have reminded me of something. I think we, as God’s people, are wired to long for the happy ending. Ever since Adam and Eve we have been waiting in anticipation for the time in which God would rescue, redeem and restore all things. We wait in anticipation for the promised “happy ending” that awaits all followers of Jesus when that day finally comes, when the brokenness of this world will pass away and all things will be made new.
And good thing for us, God is MUCH better about keeping his promise of a happy ending than I was. So take heart! Whatever twists and turns your story has taken recently, the happy ending IS coming and while we wait for it there is plenty to do to keep us busy. For one, we can share our stories with others. We can walk along side of those who are hurting or questioning or suffering today and help to give them just a small foreshadowing of the happy ending that is to come.
As for me the rest of my flashback saga, I served my time for breaking mom’s movie picking rules and learned my lesson. I have even implemented the “Happy Ending Rule” with my own family. After all, if it’s good enough for Jesus it’s good enough for me.