It’s Friday afternoon – the end of the work week – which has me thinking about endings of other sorts. April and I made the hard decision to cancel a trip earlier this week, one to which we’d both been looking forward. We agreed that making the call felt like the “end of a dream”. I’m sure you can relate. You can probably identify a number of endings in your own life: graduations, deaths, the passing of a certain season of life, retirement… the list goes on and on.
A funny thing about endings, though: they’re hardly ever really the end.
What we call “the end” is usually really just a point in time at which we turn some corner. Things are often different after that point, but time goes on. And more importantly, the period immediately following those points in time is rife with opportunity.
When Joshua died, the Israelites no doubt felt like their world was coming to an end. Joshua had led them victoriously against Canaan and an alliance of Amorite kingdoms. They had expanded their own territory greatly, finally laying claim to the lands promised to Moses by God years before. Without Joshua’s confident leadership, what were they to do?
Joshua was a faithful servant, and God was able to use him mightily on behalf of the Israelites. But Joshua was a mortal man, and both he and God knew that his time on earth was finite. Our dreams are the same way. Even when we strive to remain in God’s will, making our plans ever-so-prayerfully, our plans are still limited, finite things.
In Israel’s case, God had a plan all along. He named Judah to be Joshua’s successor, and Judah continued Joshua’s work, defeating 10,000 Canaanites and Perizzites in a single battle.
God has a plan for you, too, and it stretches beyond whatever “ending” you may currently be facing.
Maybe you prayerfully committed a year of your life to a goal, but twelve months later you’ve yet to attain it. Keep going. God’s plan is bigger than a calendar year.
Maybe you told yourself you’d leave your spouse if they came home drunk one more time. Even if you smelled alcohol on their clothes last night, keep going. God’s will for your marriage is stronger than any ultimatum.
Maybe you’ve lost a loved one, a mentor, or a friend. God’s love, care, and guidance are bigger than the void you feel. Keep going.
Today’s post takes it title from (the greatest TV show ever) Lost. One man says to another: “It only ends once; anything that happens before is just progress.” I won’t attempt to explain the quote’s context (it’d take too long and I’d probably get it wrong anyway), but I wanted to present it because it wonderfully and concisely sums up the point of this message: your work on earth doesn’t end until you die. Until then, there’s really no such thing as an ending. There’s just the opportunity to experience a new chapter of God’s plan for you.
On an administrative note, I want to let our faithful readers know that Neutral Gets You Nowhere is going on vacation next week, so there won’t be any new posts for a few days. Instead, we’ll be re-publishing some of our “greatest hits” from our first 100 (!) posts. We hope you enjoy revisiting some of our favorite messages and maybe find something new in doing so.