[picture by Alessandro Cerino on Unsplash]
When I was a kid, my dad would listen to a radio show by Paul Harvey called The Rest of the Story. Paul Harvey would tell a story but at a key point stop and say, “In a minute you will hear the rest of the story.” Then they would go to the commercial break.
It was mean, really.
Anyway, after the commercial, he would give the shocking end and say, “And now you know the rest of the story.”
When a radio station says, “we will be right back, don’t move that dial,” you know what I do?
Yup, I move that dial.
Call me a rebel.
But never did I do that with Paul Harvey. I knew the best was coming.
Thankfully, so did Dad. So, we would wait.
Living in the Commercial Break
I don’t remember ever liking the commercials making me wait for the rest of the story. But, had there been no commercials, there would have been no story.
Before Paul Harvey, the New Testament writers used the story of Israel going to the Promised Land and waiting in the wilderness as their metaphor. As Israel was rescued out of slavery in Egypt through the blood of the lamb and was baptized in the Red Sea, so too we have been rescued from sin by the blood of the Lamb of God and been baptized into the body of Christ. (1 Cor 10, Hebrews 3-4) God was with Israel through the pillar of fire at night and cloud by day, and we are indwelt by the Spirit of God. But God’s blessing and presence in the wilderness was not the end of the story for Israel.
They had to pass through the wilderness to get to the Promised Land. Once there, due to disobedience, they had to wait for another 40 years for the rest of the story. In a sense, God being with them was their promised land as they waited to enter the physical Promised Land.
And we too are waiting, but as with Israel there is hope. In a sense, God living in and through us is our promised land as we wait for the rest of the story, the Promised Land when Jesus returns to rule.
The Stockdale Paradox
I got a book at a leadership conference years ago called Good to Great by Jim Collins. In it he tells a story of Jim Stockdale who was an America Vice Admiral during the war in Vietnam. Stockdale was captured, imprisoned, and tortured for over seven years.
How did he make it through?
What seems counterintuitive is that he said the first people to die in captivity were the optimists, who assumed they would get out quickly. They “died of a broken heart.” He later said, “I think there was a lot of damage done by optimists… the problem is, some people believe what professional optimists are passing out and come unglued when their predictions don’t work out.”
Stockdale believed that the key to survival was to combine realism and hope. “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
Putting it all together, when asked how he survived when he had no idea if he would ever be rescued, he said: “I never lost faith in the end of the story. I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”
How great it is to know the end of the story. We are not yet living in the Promised Land. But the One who is returning lives within us today. And for today, that’s enough. That’s our today promised land.
The Promised Land by TobyMac does a beautiful job putting music to this truth, combining realism and hope. I hope you like it.
Waiting for The Rest of the Story
- Romans 12:12 (NIV2011) Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
- Psalms 27:14 (NIV2011) Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
- 2Peter 38:-18 (NIV2011) Do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
- 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
- 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.
- 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. …
- 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
This Sunday at AnchorPoint we plan to be in Matthew 16:21-27, the instructions from Jesus on how and why to follow Him as we wait for His return.
Thanking God we know the rest of the story,