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Knowing the End of the Story

The other day, on a friend’s recommendation, I started watching So You Think You Can Dance, which is like Dancing With the Stars only with people who actually can dance. I found it on a cable station, and watched several episodes. Then I discovered that I was watching last season’s shows, so I googled the program and found out who won.

Knowing the outcome changes the way I view the competition. A judge’s critical assessment of a performance is just a bump on the road when I know the dancer will eventually win in the end.

That’s one of the many reasons for reading and studying the Bible. When we know how the story is going to end, it helps us process the meaning and impact of the slings and arrows of living in a fallen world, and we don’t have to be undone by them.

We know that in the end, God will set everything right.

In the end, He will see that good triumphs over evil.

In the end, Jesus will be crowned King over all, and He will reign in His kingdom here on earth, and those who have been faithful will be rewarded with opportunities to reign with Him, to serve in His kingdom. (For a mind-blowing explanation of the difference between the kingdom and heaven, check out Curtis Tucker’s new book Majestic Destiny.)

It is faithfulness that qualifies us for a place in the kingdom (which is different from receiving eternal life, which is a free gift with no strings attached). And faithfulness is proven by our responses to the challenges and tests of this life. It’s about choosing to trust in the goodness and love of a sovereign God instead of resorting to our own methods of making life work. It’s about resisting temptation to conform to the world’s mold. It’s about waiting on the Lord’s timing instead of taking matters into our own hands when He doesn’t seem to be moving fast enough for us.

Knowing how the Big Story will end helps us put the small stories of our lives into perspective. But knowing how we got here, by studying the histories recorded in the Bible, also provides perspective.

I have a friend who is baffled and confused—well, actually, terrified is more accurate—because everything she’s ever counted on to make life work is being taken away. She finds herself divorced, without custody of her children, no job, and no idea how she will pay next month’s rent. None of it makes sense to her.

But I’ve been reading the Old Testament prophets (Isaiah through Malachi) this year, and what’s happening to her makes a lot of sense to me. God is lovingly taking away all the props that she has been depending on to make life work so that she can learn that that He is good, that He is her provider, that He is enough. And because she doesn’t yet know Him—she really just has some ideas about Him—she doesn’t know that she can trust Him.

Just as God cured the idolatry of His people by stripping them of all His gifts and benefits that they blindly attributed to the false gods they worshipped, I believe God is removing everything except Himself from my friend’s life. It’s a scary place, but it doesn’t have to be a hopeless place. God has a way of setting up crazy situations where we are given a front-row seat to what He’s about to do to reveal His heart to us.

Studying the Bible’s stories and lessons helps us see that. Looking backward, and looking forward.

Where there will be dancing!

Sue Bohlin is a speaker/writer and webmistress for Probe Ministries, a Christian organization that helps people to think biblically. She loves teaching women and laughing, and if those two can be combined, all the better. She also loves speaking for MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) and Stonecroft Ministries (Christian Women's Clubs) on the topic How to Handle the Things You Hate But Can't Change, based on her lifelong experience as a polio survivor.

She has a freelance calligraphy business in her home studio; hand lettering was her "Proverbs 31 job" while her children were young. Sue also serves on the board of Living Hope Ministries, a Christ-centered organization that helps people struggling with unwanted homosexuality and the family members of those with same-sex attractions.

Sue never met a cruise ship she didn't like, especially now that God has provided a travel scooter for getting around any ship! She is happily married to Dr. Ray Bohlin, writer and speaker on faith and science with Probe Ministries, and they have two grown sons. You can follow Sue on Twitter @suebohlin.

3 Comments

  • kathy levernier goldin

    red flags vs bottoming out

    Excellent blog cousin Sue. Many of us have gone thru what your friend is,  Bless her. I did. I have always know my Lord & Savior. Practically from as young as I can remember. A Catholic school, Generations of family in the same church, grandparents next door as neighbors going to church w/ them, religion was in my blood it seemed to just be a part of my being. As one grows often we stop going to church & attend the holiday events-you know as teens do…But I still had my `foundation' & moral principles underneath.  Terrible things began to happen in my life on a Large scale by 18 – I know now it was the Lord setting things right  I married the wrong person had miscarriages, a son who died in infancy, husband got a lover after that-we divorced, was dignosed w/ severe brain tumor. ex embellzed all my $$-beat me-took my car-left me at my job 1 day after coming to get my pay check to `depost it' & I never saw him again….  I am a quiet shy person so  kept it all quiet(except I had to call my dad to pick me up at the hospital I worked at & explain & had to but a car fast) then dealt with it mostly by myself working 3 jobs & many part time. Paying for my sons funeral expenses & the stolen$ until sheriff helped me with ex. But it never mattered it was all so `much'  by the time I was 23.  I know the lord held me up when I could not doo so for myself.— what I am trying to get at is–I do not know if your friend knows the Lord..or `ever' has know the Lord? there is a difference. you know It is harder to *begin* to come to the know the Lord if has never been in your life VS you have had Him in your life & you `got busy' and pushed Him out or `forgot about' Him.    You have to figure that when Horrible things on such a Large scale as this (there is more) happen that The Lord is clearly Calling to `you' He has a need to get your attention to have you Change directions. To get you on the path that is your destiny in this life. You have *SOMETHING* that you need to do in this life and he will do what ever He needs to get your attention. It would be nice if we listened to life's little red flags.  instead of bottoming out……

    • Sue Bohlin

      When the bottom falls out

      Thank you so much for sharing your heart, Kathy! Wow. . . what an amazing testimony of pain you have, and I am so very sorry! I think we don't have any idea of how much our sin, our blindness, our selfishness (as the human race) breaks the Lord's heart. It's so, so far from what He made us for–intimacy with Himself!

      After 38 years of walking closely with the Lord, I've seen that when the bottom falls out there can be several possible reasons. It may be discipline, the logical and predictable consequences of making foolish choices that leave Him, and the godly principles He gave us in His word, out of the picture. And sometimes the bottom falls out when we haven't been doing anything "wrong" at all–I mean, look at Joseph, Daniel, Jeremiah, the apostles! Sometimes the Lord allows us to suffer as His crucible of making us look like Jesus.

      I appreciate your compassion for my friend. She has lived, to be honest, a typically shallow Christian life for many years. It's easy to do in the U.S. where life is good and we are not desperate for God. And now He's leading her to new places of personal disaster where she can see Him reveal Himself in ways she can more clearly see.

      The Lord Jesus said that eternal life is knowing the Father and Son (John 17:3). Lots of people have a tiny seed of eternal life planted in their souls but don't nourish and nurture it to grow into the essence of their life of knowing God intimately so it changes them forever. Lots of people get by only experiencing a shadow of the Life that Jesus longs for us to live. It's a privilege to walk with my friend as she learns what this means.

      Blessing you today!

      • Sheiran

        When The Bottom Falls Out!

        Hello Sue,

        I just found your blog through Lael Arrington' s email and appreciate so very much your response to "Bottom".  especially that it can happen when we haven't done anything wrong, not discounting the fact that I am well acquainted with Paul's account of Christian life in Romans 8.  I have seen that like the prophet Isaiah, I am a woman of "unclean lips" because I have seen the Lord.

        Life has not been close to easy and at 65, I find myself at the lowest level financially not knowing how to sustain the most basic of needs, yet I love the Lord with all my heart. 

        I am extremely tired, perplexed, hurting, yet hopeful and full of Thanksgiving for the Lord's mercy, love, grace and blessings.  I know and have seen that His Grace is sufficient though, at present there appears to be nowhere to turn and I am working hard to listen, receive guidance and trust His provision.

        I want to go to Ecuador for a while, perhaps to work with children & women, though, as yet I am uncertain how to procede.

        The book of John has been popping up recently in Oswald Chamber's My Utmost for His Highest and I just noticed it in your post, so I think this would be a good time for me to re-read this book.

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