Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Finish to the Story

"Is it not true that again and again in the biblical picture of things, the story has to be allowed to finish?

"Was it not the case with Lazarus's household at Bethany, and with the two en route to Emmaus? And is it not the case with the Whole Story, actually--that it must be allowed to finish, and that this is precisely what the faithful have been watching for since the beginning of time? In the face of suffering and endurance and loss and waiting and death, what is it that has kept the spirits of the faithful from flagging utterly down through the millennia? Is it not the hope of Redemption? Is it not the great Finish to the Story--and to all their little stories of wandering about in sheepskins and goatskins as well as to the One Big Story of the whole creation, which is in itself groaning and waiting? And is not that Finish called glorious? Does it not entail what amounts to a redoing of all that has gone wrong, and a remaking of all that is ruined, and a finding of all that has been lost in the shuffle, and an unfolding of it all in a blaze of joy and splendor?

"A finding of all that is lost? All sparrows, and all petitions and tears and vigils and fastings? Yes, all petitions and tears and vigils and fastings.

"'But where are they? The thing is over and done with. He [Elisabeth Elliot's second husband, in this case] is dead. They had no effect.'

"Hadn't they? How do you know what is piling up in the great treasury kept by the Divine Love to be opened in that Day? How do you know that this death and your prayers and tears and fasts will not together be suddenly and breathtakingly displayed, before all the faithful, and before angels and archangels, and before kings and widows and prophets, as gems in that display? Oh no, don't speak of things being lost. Say rather that they are hidden--received and accepted and taken up into the secrets of the divine mysteries, to be transformed and multiplied, like everything else we offer to him--loaves and fishes, or mites, or bread and wine--and given back to you and to the one for whom you kept vigil, in the presence of the whole host of men and angels, in a hilarity of glory as unimaginable to you in your vigil as golden wings are to the worm in the chrysalis.

"But how does it work? We may well ask. How does Redemption work?"

     ~Dr. Thomas Howard, "On Brazen Heavens," in his sister Elisabeth Elliot's essay collection On Asking God Why, 26-27, emphasis mine.

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