Whether it’s at the beginning of the story or the beginning of a new volume or chapter - good beginnings grab our attention, set the stage, pose a question, and invite the mysterious or new.
Good beginnings force us to want to read more because: they leave us excited and craving more, or they leave us intrigued and searching for solutions, they leave us puzzled wanting to piece things back together, they leave us confused and questioning why.
Each of us have a story and we have our “once upon a time” new beginnings – those new chapters in life. Many of them leave us excited and wanting more – the first kiss, that special meal, the graduation, the marriage, the birth, that promotion, our dreams come true!
But then there are those life beginnings – those new chapters being written, that we’d rather just leave out!!! The break up, the divorce, the bad news, the illness, the fear, the loss of a job, the loss of a friend, the trials and pain. Those new beginnings that we’d rather just avoid because . . .
they leave us frustrated and searching for solutions,
they leave us puzzled wanting to piece things back together,
they leave us confused and questioning why.
But unlike a story book, these new “real life” beginning don’t make us want to read more! At times, if we’re honest with each other, we would rather just close the book and ignore it, try to re-write it, throw the book in the fire, and walk away from God shouting, “Stupid Author!”
If all we had was “Once Upon a Time” . . . . If all we had were “beginnings” . . . our personal narratives would only lead to misery.
Isaiah 46:9-10: “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established.'”
This "God quote" literally means that He (God) knows the end of a thing when He begins a thing. Our Creator, the author of our stories – is the author of the end – he knows the outcome no matter the Once Upon a Time that this life hands us! To God - it’s all about the Happily Ever After.
Barnes Notes on the Bible explains the passage: “God tells us, ‘My counsel shall stand’ - My purpose, my design, my will. The phrase 'shall stand' means that it shall be stable, settled, fixed, established.”
Barnes continues by telling us, “If there were no plan in relation to human things, the mind could find no rest. If there was no evidence that One Mind presided over human affairs; that an infinitely wise plan had been formed, and that all things had been adjusted so as best to secure the ultimate accomplishment of that plan, everything would have the appearance of chaos, and the mind must be filled with doubts and distractions. But our anxieties vanish in regard to the apparent irregularities and disorders of the universe, when we feel that all things are under the direction of an Infinite Mind, and will be made to accomplish his plans, and further his great designs.”
God works backward from the end, not forward from the beginning. God does not start something or allow life to happen to us and then try to figure it out along the way with no plan, no resources, no relationships for success.
This is what we call HOPE. God's promise is all about finishing strong. God doesn't declare, “Oh great, now how do I end this? fix this? make it all better?”
So, what do we do when we get stuck in these Once Upon a Time tragedy chapters, the pain chapters, the hurting chapters? We keep reading by faith!! FAITH in our God who said "I got your back – the ending has been written and it IS Happily Ever After." Keep moving on, let the next chapter begin!
This FAITH – it comes by hearing the Word. It’s not by seeing! What we are seeing often doesn’t make sense. It leaves us confused, upset, and broken. God knows the outcome no matter the "Once Upon a Time" that this life hands us. To God - it’s all about the Happily Ever After.
Isaiah 46:9-10 (The Message): “Remember your history, your long and rich history. I am God, the only God you've had or ever will have—incomparable, irreplaceable— From the very beginning telling you what the ending will be, All along letting you in on what is going to happen, Assuring you, 'I'm in this for the long haul, I'll do exactly what I set out to do,' Calling that eagle, Cyrus, out of the east, from a far country the man I chose to help me. I've said it, and I'll most certainly do it. I've planned it, so it's as good as done.”