I started collecting my words on paper when I was 8. I have my very first journal (…and the dozens that followed…) tucked away. I believe the first entry went something like this;
“I turrned eght today. Grandpa and Grandma gave me a watch. I saw a got.”
That was a goat, if you missed it.
Stories followed soon after. I loved writing stories. Anything could happen in them, and they were always far more interesting than my real life.
I don’t have as many of my stories as I do journals, but a lot of the ones I do have end in a similar vein. The crux of the story is reached, and just at the part where the resolution is needed the story is tidly summed up with a simple “… finish the story in your own words.”
In elementary school I thought I was quite clever.
Strong, suspenseful, exciting stories were easy and fun to start, but finishing well was hard.
Words are a beautiful, powerful tool and when words turn into stories beautiful results can be woven.
But sometimes real life stories occur and play out better than any carefully crafted story. Like this week.
I made a quick stop at a grocery store to grab a couple of items for a special celebratory dinner with Paul before he left the next morning for almost two weeks away with the military.
The boys were with me and we grabbed our few special items and are few necessities and rang up our order at the self checkout. The total was just under $25 and as I went to pull out my wallet I realized I had left it at home.
I found the woman managing the self check out lanes and told her I would have to leave the groceries as my wallet was at home. A manager just happened to be there and he told me to take my groceries home with me and come back at my convinience before the end of the day to pay my bill.
His kindness meant the world to me. He didn’t know me. I had shopped there only once before. He didn’t know my circumstances. But for whatever reason he extended kindness to me above and beyond anything he ought to have done and made a really pleasant experience out of what might have been a really frustrating situation.
I was pleased the boys had been with me and could see the story unravel. We left the store at the crux of the story – at the very part where I got to choose the ending.
The manager had not taken my name or number or anything to identify that I owed his store money. He just told me to go with my food and to come back when I could. It was up to me to be honest, and what a beautiful thing for my boys to be able to witness. They saw a story unfold and they saw it finishing well when the bill was paid shortly thereafter.
But being faithful in order to finish well can be hard.
I can see that in my life. Sometimes in something as simple (and embarassing!) as cooking eggs. I get the butter to a beautiful, sizzling stage. Carefully crack in the eggs and then step away “for a moment” – to the demise of my eggs.
Or it appears in the form of reflection that reveals a day that was spent selfishly, with a bad attitude. It’s not that every day needs to produce impressive checks on the to-do list – but every day should be lived out so that our words and deeds are honoring our Lord God.
Just because things start well, or have good intentions, or have been done countless times the proper way doesn’t mean it will simply finish well without attention and care to nurture it in the right direction.
It can be frustrating to not see the fruit of our labor. To continually sow in the soil and not see the temper tamed, the lazy attitude gone, the proud spirit humbled.
I’ve been watching our houseplants growing and been encouraged by the realization that in their tight, budded up state they are exactly what they ought to be at that time in order to reveal the beauty that will come.
And when we walked among some majestic Magnolia trees a couple of weeks ago I was humbled to see the tiny seeds beneath the century old tree towering high above.
Growth looks different in all seasons, but in all seasons we should be growing. Growing closer to Him. Because finishing well won’t happen without the constistant nurturing that time in His word, time in prayer, and time spent being obedient to Him will grow in us.
“And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”