I have been privy to several conversations about book reading habits recently. Two of these are similar in theme and caused me to ponder the theme in light of how we live our lives. One of these conversations happened at work where there was a debate on the merits of reading the last chapter first. One person argued that by knowing the ending they were able to enjoy the reading and see how things unfolded. Many others in the conversation were vehemently against this idea. I enjoy books that have some form of mystery in their writing so I sided with the “you should never read the last chapter - first.”
The second conversation happened around the lunch table at Vacation Bible Camp. A discussion of reading different types of books began and someone made a comment similar to I love those books; I have read them several times. That made me reflect on the earlier conversations. If you read a book for a second time, by definition, you already know the final chapter, and the rest of the book for that matter. I have to reconsider my earlier position. I have read Sir Arthur Conon Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books several times. That is the ultimate in “some form of mystery”. I must conclude, or at least concede, that even if the ending is revealed ahead of time we can enjoy how the story is revealed in the reading.
Barry is teaching Revelation this quarter to the Senior High class. I am reading it again to be prepared for conversations this may evoke. Revelation is the revealing of the last chapter of every life. It is truly an awe inspiring read. However, let us consider the hope and confidence that is inspired by knowing the outcome.
Jesus tells us not to worry – “(For after all these things the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things” Matt 6:32. Jesus tells us we have a place in eternity - “In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2. Jesus says he will take care of us here on earth and after we leave this earth. We are to live boldly in our Christian walk – “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” Hebrews 4:16. “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” Hebrews 13:6. In boldness we live a life that praises him and brings others to him – “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” Matt 5:16.
Jesus wants us to know how the last chapter of life will look. It was so important that John was provided a vison of the last moment in time and was provided the remembrance to write it down for us. 1 Thessalonians 4 and other scripture gives us a glimpse and knowledge of how the story ends. The hope and confidence that comes from knowing the last chapter becomes the genesis of how we can boldly live a life that is well written and will inspire others as they “read” our story.
Read God’s word. Have faith in the ONE who is ever faithful. Have hope in the ONE that is hope. Rest in the love of the ONE that is love. Know that if you follow HIM you have read about yourself in the words of scripture about the last chapter (being selected with the sheep - Matthew 25). Read the last chapter, live life like you will obtain it and enjoy how your book develops.