“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Sir Winston Churchill, Speech in November 1942
My Senior year I was “Little Red” in our high school musical Into the Woods, a story where multiple fairytale characters meet up in the woods with the second act unfolding the rest of the story, what happened after “happily ever after”, which wasn’t all “happy”.
Sequels to movies and books are popular because we know deep down that one obstacle passed doesn’t mean “The End” and saying “I do” does not necessarily mean “happily ever after”.
I recently learned that Disney even made a Cinderella II and III, which will make for another fun “girl day” for Little One and me. I always suspected the proud Lady Tremaine wouldn’t be content to let her step-daughter ride off happily into the sunset. Fiction as it may be, it illustrates that as long as we are alive there will be conflict and character development. As long as there is an enemy, we shouldn’t be surprised that life isn’t all flowers, sunsets, and Disney theme songs played over credits.
We have an enemy! (Eph. 6:12)
We set ourselves up for disappointment when we deny that we were born into the middle of an epic struggle, a story of a world at war. We can’t expect the “happily ever after” just yet.
Life is long and days may be hard, but it is time we realize this book we find ourselves in is not an easy-read weekend novel. Let’s start thinking Lord of the Rings trilogy or Les Miserables (now there’s a hefty book with some serious character development). Consider the Author of your life. Really, what kind of story do you think He’s written for you? (Ps. 139:16)
“Once upon a time…” and here we are.
Once upon a time there was a “Garden of Eden”, but then came the fall.
I hear Fantine, from an old London Les Misérables cassette singing in my mind, “I dreamed a dream in time gone by when hope was high and life worth living…” But, in the darkest hours she laments, “I dreamed a dream my life would be so different from this hell I’m living… Life has killed the dream I dream.”
“What man desires is unfailing love…” Pr. 19:22
It is, if that is where you stay.
It’s like reading a great book, and just as you come to the conflict and rising action, you slam the book shut and say, “I’ve had enough! Everything is all wrong! I can’t take it anymore. I’m not going to read this.”
But, what if a friend who knows the ending grabs you by the shoulders, stares you in the eye, and in all seriousness says, “You’ve got to finish! I promise, the ending is so worth it! You’ve got to keep reading! You’ll be so glad you did.”? Would you reconsider and pick it up again? — That friend cheering you on is the Author Himself and a great cloud of witnesses. (Heb. 12:1)
Everything changes when Love steps in, when the unselfish, self-sacrificing Hero takes center stage and speaks His lines of faithfulness over the tragedy. He is the Priest (Bishop Myriel) singing over Jean Valjean who in turn becomes the hero and sings hope and promise over Fantine. Love is the voice of encouragement to keep going.
There will be a “happily ever after” for each of us, but until we reach eternity the story is still unfolding. Let us not lose sight of our eternity, our ultimate and certain “happily ever after”.
“The Lord your God is in the midst of you (He is with you, living among you!), a Mighty One (a Warrior, He will fight for you), a (victorious) Savior [Who saves]! He will rejoice over you with joy (take delight in you); He will rest [in silent satisfaction] and in His love He will be silent (a quiet, gentle love) and make no mention (without rebuke) [of past sins, or even recall them]; He will exult (rejoice, joyfully) over you with singing.” Zeph. 3:17 (my compilation of various translations: AMP, ESV, NIV, Living, NAS, KJV)
This month, I’d like you to…
- make a list or chart of the Top 10 Hardest Things You are Facing (or have Faced in the past)
- then, beside each item, write a one or two word description: “still hard/struggling”/”unresolved”/”still waiting”, or “unresolved, but easier/making progress”, or “no longer an issue”/”resolved”
- also, for each of the 10 items you listed, briefly describe either where you saw/or are seeing Faithful Love (just a line or two is enough: anything “good” that is coming/came from those trials/dark days, any message of hope that God is giving/gave you, or any word of encouragement that you would share with someone facing something similar)
- read and write out (or print) your own copy of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116
- then read write (or print) a copy of Psalm 116
Bonus Challenge #1:
“Never flinch. Never weary. Never despair.” – Winston Churchill
You’re still alive, and your story is not over. So, it is safe to assume that at least one of those “10 Hardest Things” is still unresolved. So, “prepare your minds for action!” (1 Pt. 1:13)
Churchill and all the Allied forces had an enemy that could not retreat from or ignore, and you have an enemy that wants to discourage, devour, and destroy you. His goal is nothing short of utter despair.
- You must go on.
- You can go on.
- You will go on.
Some of the greatest quotes from history or lines from books and movies resonate with us because they echo a deeper truth, God’s message for the world. As you keep the themes of fairytale, story, and kingdom in your mind, take note of those lines, lyrics, and verses that you come across that resonate with you. Maybe make a special place in your journal for inspiring quotes. (Or write them on pretty pieces of paper and tie them together into a little encouraging book for yourself. If you make one, please bring it with you in April.)
Bonus Challenge #2:
Give yourself a Christmas present, a copy of Waking the Dead by John Eldridge. (As I type this, I see that you can order a used copy $0.01 + shipping from, or have in two days for under $4 with AmazonPrime.)
I even had my boys read this book this year, and they agreed, it’s a great book and an easy read. This year I’m reading it for the third time. I highly recommend it, and it fits so well with our theme!
(If you like movies, you’ll especially enjoy this book!!!)