Forgive me if I age myself right now, but do you remember those books in which you were able to choose various outcomes with each chapter, ultimately choosing the destiny of your character? I loved those books. I loved them because if I didn't like the outcome, I could go back, reread a few chapters and alter the ending to one that I prefer.
How often do you wish you could do that with your day? Your week? Your year? Your life?
The shortened version of my lengthy story is this: my husband and I met when we were sophomores in high school, and we got married only 3 years after we graduated. We promised to finish college, we didn't. We thought we'd wait a while to have children, we didn't. We thought we could handle life, we couldn't. We endured many hardships, many disappointments in each other and many broken promises. To sum it up: we spent several years of our marriage wishing we weren't married to each other. There were many times I wanted to reread a couple chapters and reroute our destiny.
"If only I knew then what I know now..."
How many times have you said that? There are so many things I would've changed and there are so many things I admit to my preteen daughter (for example, "wait until you finish college before getting married, and get your career started before you have kids"). But when I give these little pearls of wisdom to my daughter, she meets me with, "but then you wouldn't have what you do now."
She's right. If I would've gone back and rerouted the characters in my own story, I wouldn't have what I do right now. I wouldn't be where I am. Sure, it took me 13 years to complete my associates degree from the local junior college, and I haven't even moved towards a bachelor's degree, and I've had the same job for the last 19 years...but honestly, I wouldn't change a thing.
Here's why: I know my story was written by God.
What would you go back and change if you could? Would you go back to chapter 8 and choose a different path? God certainly hopes that you wouldn't choose a different path because He has been writing your story with the hopes that you won't alter the ending. Unlike the author of those choose your own ending books, God is hoping you won't try out different endings.
The books provided something we all wish we could do: go back. Regroup. Pick a different course. Be better satisfied. But, if you were like me, I reread every ending, even if I was totally satisfied with the first one. I needed to know what was at the end of each path to see if I really chose the better ending. The problem with having the choice of alternate endings meant that I wouldn't really be satisfied with just knowing there was another option, I needed to explore it. Otherwise I would dwell on it, I would think about it. I would wonder, and I would assume that my ending wasn't the better one.
Let me give you an example: during that time that my husband and I didn't want to be married to each other, we separated. The kids and I moved in with my parents while he stayed at our house. I began seeing another man who was completely opposite of my husband. I swore I was in love, I was convinced that I was going to divorce my husband and spend my life with this other man. And then, God happened. And now, years later, my husband and I are going to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary.
But guess what I do when we hit a rough patch? My mind goes back to my book of alternate endings. "What if I would've chosen a different path? What if things would've worked out between me and that guy? What if I had gone away to college? What if, what if, what if...." I catch myself revisiting the past chapters of my story. I begin imagining new endings, alternate paths and new characters. What a dangerous place to be in the land of "what if's."
But when I stop to realize that God is the author of my story, it relieves me from wondering about the alternate endings. Because I know that His story for me is perfect. Even with the trials, the hard moments and the occasional loneliness, I know it's a part of my perfectly written story.
Think about your favorite book; doesn't have to be a lengthy novel, even a short story, but think about it. Why was it your favorite story? Did the underdog come out a winner? Did the hero find his strength during battle? Did the ending surprise you?
I'm willing to bet that the reason your favorite book or character came to mind is because you fell in love with the character. You were rooting for her when she was in the midst of a difficult time. You kept reading because her character was being developed along the way. Her trial is what built her. Her battle became her legacy.
You are the hero in God's story.
He is in love with your character.
He is rooting for you in difficult times.
Together you are creating your legacy.
God is writing the most perfect story. There's no need for alternate endings because no other path will lead to his ending for you. Don't revisit past chapters. Don't try to go back and take a peek at a different ending. Your story is being written by the most perfect author. You are where you are supposed to be right now. If you're in the middle of a battle, if you're facing hardship, this is the climax of the story. This is the part where your character is further developed, and you're no longer just a character in a book, but the hero of the story. If you're in a good place you can look back on times of hardship and recognize your character strengths as a result. Like any good book the battle is what develops the character.
Don't look back. Keep reading.
God has the most outstanding ending for you -the hero of His story.