As I drove to the gym two Thursdays ago, I heard the the introduction to the Browns-Bills game. At the start of the season, no one, outside of Buffalo or Cleveland would have even cared about the match-up. But as it so happens, the Browns had won 2 in a row and were on the verge of being over 500.
But something else hit me as I tuned into the pre-game broadcast. Brian Hoyer, who started the season as the third string QB, had been inserted into the line-up a few games prior and was set to have a chance to win a third straight. Three game winning streaks for the Browns are not common (for the record the Bucs did have a four game winning streak last year).
Yet the story didn’t end with a third string QB coming in to save the day. Hoyer grew up less than 20 minutes from where the Browns play. He’s an underdog, and a hometown kid, whose dream was probably to play for his home town team. And it happened. And he won.
And then he slid, very poorly on a run for a first down. A defender hit him, and he tore his ACL. And just like that, the story was over. Well the Browns won the game, and may still win. Such a franchise has a special place in my heart: Bucs fans are partial to losing organizations.
The story seemed like such a good fit. It shouldn’t end so soon, and with a simple slide? Who knows what could have been? We don’t. We won’t.
It’s just football, but probably all of us can think of how we would have written another’s story differently. Or our own?
If I had written my story, it wouldn’t have included depression, or back surgery at 25. It wouldn’t have included purchasing a house at the worst possible time in US History. It wouldn’t have been to head to West Virginia. It wouldn’t have been a number of things. Yet all of those things things God has weaved together into a story that is a part of His bigger story of undoing the curse of sin down in these parts. He’s used all of the above in our ministry here. For the record, the West Va time was enjoyable from the get-go, but it certainly wasn’t what this salt-water enthusiast had planned on doing!
Of course there are other things that have happened that I’ll never know why. And surely you will too.
Perhaps Connar’s memory verse for today at school is apropos:
And in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. -Romans 8:28
Some stories, or at least chapters in the stories end abruptly. They really do. And we should grieve. We really should. How can we not?
But there is a Story that has already been written. It is beautiful in a way that sometimes we won’t fully appreciate this side of heaven. I think we need to come to grips with that too.
I once heard that a high school class in South Carolina read Animal Farm but didn’t explain to the kids that it was an allegory. It wasn’t just an animal story. It would have been meaningless if not properly understand as an allegory regarding the “equality” inherent in communism.
Sometimes I think I might often misread what happens in my life in the same way.
Or you may have read a book that you didn’t appreciate when younger, but now you see the beauty, and style of the author as you get older. You learn there is much more to story-writing than piecing together details. Some stories are only appreciated when you get older.
Sometimes life may be the opposite of a Harry Potter story, which is easy to read and appreciated despite the level of maturity of the “reader.”
The more we recognize that God has written us into His story for redeeming and reconciling the world, the easier it will become for us when chapters end differently than we would have hoped.
Until that day when we will see the full beauty of the story, even to those who have had great injustices done to them, we have the words of the martyrs in Revelation to encourage us:
“Great and marvelous are your deeds,
Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
King of the nations.[a]
4 Who will not fear you, Lord,
and bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”- Rev 15:3-4
Such is the ending of the Christian.