My wife hates it if I tell her how a movie ends before she has seen it. She even hates watching the promos for an upcoming TV episode. Like most of us she feels that her experience of watching the movie will be spoiled if the ending or the plot is revealed.
But paradoxically she, like many many people, will watch her favourite movies a second and third time on DVD.
Why is it that people like my wife don’t want to know? How is it that we enjoy the suspense, the uncertainty and fear we experience when watching a movie, when in real life we hate uncertainty? If I am driving, I like to know for sure that the route I have taken will lead me there. If I am buying a house or second-hand car I want to check it out thoroughly to remove the uncertainty and fear I feel about making such purchases. If I have had medical tests for that “something’s there”, the uncertainty and anxiety caused by waiting and not knowing can be unbearable.
For millennia clairvoyants, prophets, shamans and now futurists have tapped into our desire to predict what is going to come. To remove the uncertainty that causes fear.
“Life can only be understood backwards;
but it must be lived forwards.” Soren Kierkegaard
Soren Kierkegaard the Danish philosopher and theologian said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” That is we often only can make sense of the events, joys, misfortunes and struggles of our lives as we look back sometimes many years later. In the meantime we must live our lives as best we can.
When the plot of a movie finally unravels and the ending is revealed all the twists and turns of the action, dialogue and characters finally makes sense. The two hours of uncertainty, all the action, fear, romance, comedy, and drama are resolved and a rush of relief comes over us. If we watch the movie again we enjoy picking up on the clues and pointers that we missed or misunderstood the first time.
When Jesus was with his disciples despite him saying so many times, they could not accept or see the end that lay ahead. And when he died, they could not see the resurrection coming. In the stories after the resurrection we often read of Jesus helping his disciples understand it backwards. “”Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.” (Luke 24:26-27)
But our lives are not a two hour movie. Uncertainties, anxiety and fear can go on for years. Would it ruin it if I told you how it ends? Well the Bible is pretty clear that it’s a happy ending.
“They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:16-17)
Life still has to be lived forwards and there is action, fear, romance, laughter, drama and uncertainty. But (spoiler alert) it is God’s world..
Don’t let not knowing how it will end
keep you from beginning
Uncertainty chases us out into the open
where God is waiting.
This is the Gospel, and it’s good news.
Brian Spencer, Minister