I almost hate to admit it, but every time I pick up a new book by C. S. Lewis, after the first chapter, I check the cover to make sure Amazon mailed me the right book. By the end of the second, I’m questioning the cultish love that Evangelicals hold for Lewis when his writing style is so vague and drab. By chapter three, I’m hanging on for dear life, just based on the principle of the thing—I mean, I love Narnia after all. Fifty pages more and I’m confessing my disappointment to a friend like it’s some sin. As the pages keep turning, I nearly give up hope. But then it happens: the one line that changes everything.
I last suffered through this emotional roller coaster while reading, for the first time, Till We Have Faces. As I plodded, then dragged, myself through the book, I began to lose faith in Lewis all over again. But, then, in the final chapter, at the end of the first paragraph, in a single sentence, his genius overwhelmed me again. With a handful of words, Lewis turned a disappointing bedtime read into a life-transforming, leave-me-gasping-and-flipping-back-to-read-it-again book. That one sentence made all the difference.
Life is like a Lewis book
It strikes me that life often works like a Lewis book. We’re trudging through some page in our story, disappointed. The writing feels dull. The plot seems to be going nowhere. The tragedies break our hearts.
We graduated college with dreams of great achievements, getting married, or having kids, but now we drive home from work ground down by the effort it takes to accomplish so little. We never wrote that book. Our ministry stayed small. Infertility happened. Illness drained our energy and bank accounts. It can leave us feeling betrayed by our stories, cheated by God, and dissatisfied with ourselves.
But what if our disappointment results from still being in chapter four? What if there’s a line waiting for us in the final chapter, a line that changes everything?
We may very well live small lives filled with seemingly insignificant things and find ourselves dying in the penultimate chapter, convinced that our story will never win a Pulitzer prize. But what if there’s another chapter after death, one with a sentence that can transforms the whole story into a masterpiece?
Lines that change everything
Jesus died and came back to life, setting the wheels of redemption into motion, but then he returned to Heaven and we’ve been left waiting nearly 2,000 years for the final chapter. But it’s not really the two millennia we have a problem with. It’s our years—the days, weeks, and months of disappointment, pain, and grief.
There’s another line coming, though, and it will change everything. We’ll watch the New Jerusalem come down out of Heaven onto Earth—this earth, remade and set free from it’s bondage—and we’ll hear our God saying from his throne, “Behold; the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev 21:3-4).
Whether that’s the sentence that will change everything, or something else, both the Old and New Testament shout the same message loud and clear: the end will be different, it will be worth it. We’ll see Jesus with our own eyes, in our flesh, on this earth, and he will make all the difference. It will leave us gasping for joy and flipping back to reread our stories. Then we’ll bask in his genius all over again. Let’s grip onto that hope.