Humble Beginnings and the Last Chapter

People who read the last chapter or page of a book first kind of amaze me.

How do you do it? Are you confused at any point, and if so, does that not bother you? Don’t you want the mental and emotional build-up before reaching that last section without knowing what will happen? What about any unfamiliar characters? Don’t you want to form opinions about them before finding out what happens to them? If you read that last bit and decide to read the book, how does it affect the way you read it? (By the way, these are legitimate questions, and I would like for anyone who does this and is interested in answering to please do so.)

Let me give you an example of why it would be a bad idea for me to read the last chapter of a book first.

My family is a Tolkien family. We’ve had a dog named Frodo and a dog named Bilbo. My dad read us The Hobbit when we were kids. My mom used to call me her “precious” when I was little, which was a reference to Gollum’s name for the ring, but my mom never said it in a creepy way like Gollum does. My sister is a big fan as well. My brother’s knowledge and love for Tolkien is probably only a step or two below Stephen Colbert’s.

Then there’s me. I’ve seen all three Lord of the Rings movies more times than I dare to count, and I enjoy them greatly, but I haven’t seen the extended versions. Until about a year ago, I hadn’t read a complete Tolkien book. I promised my brother I’d read The Hobbit before I saw the movie., but it was so hard for me to get into it that we made a deal that I would read to where each movie left off, which broke his heart a little.

I decided to finish the book last year instead of just stopping where the second movie did. I didn’t do it just to get it over with. By that point in the story, I was interested and invested.

I vividly remember finishing the book. I was in the living room with my mom and my sister. They were watching TV, and I was reading, sitting in the recliner my brother likes to sit in. He came home from work just after I read the part where my two favorite characters die. He walked into the room getting ready to say, “Get out of my seat,” when he saw me crying. And it wasn’t just a dignified tear or two. It was an ugly cry. Scrunched-up face, puffy eyes, wet cheeks, and more tears falling. Through gasps and sobs, I managed to tell him why I was upset. He sympathized with me. Everyone did.

Had I read the last chapter first, I would’ve thought, “Oh, this’ll be easy to get through. I can see why everyone loves Tolkien so much.” Then I would’ve been extremely disappointed in the first half of the book when I wished Tolkien would give all of the description a rest and just get on with the story.

But then there’s the Bible, a book in which you have to read the last bit to know how it’ll all turn out.

Billy Graham said, “I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out all right.”

It’s a comfort we all need sometimes. We all have our low points, and personally, my low points tend to be filled with doubts. I guess when I’m down, I feel ignored, unwanted, and/or irrelevant. Knowing that heaven awaits and that I’m just as important as the next person that’ll be up there helps me feel better.

Let’s revisit The Hobbit for a minute. For those of you who aren’t very familiar with hobbits and their social standing among other creatures in Middle Earth, hobbits aren’t very glamorous, popular, or highly regarded. The largely keep to themselves, or at least their own kind. No surprises. No adventures. They’d rather be left alone at home, and most of everyone else has no problem leaving them alone. It’s these very creatures that become the heroes in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. They change their world.

God does the exact same thing. He takes the smallest, most insignificant people and places and uses them for His glory.

That’s why Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem. He wasn’t born in a clean, luxurious hospital surrounded by other little babies. The wise men and shepherds didn’t have to fight big-city traffic to get to Mary’s room and see the boy. No, Jesus cries echoed off cave walls and the nearby inn that was too crowded with those who returned for the census. Those travelling to see Him might’ve wondered where they were because the star wasn’t guiding them towards a large, industrious place. Jesus’ first neighbors were animals, not other swaddled babies resting gently in cribs.

Talk about humble beginnings.

Then He grew up in Nazareth, a place people said nothing good came from. Jesus was born in a tiny town and raised in a dirty, rough city. He never let that stop Him because He held onto God’s promises.

I’m not saying that God will move you around like He did Jesus, but I am saying that God has big plans for you. You’re already relevant to Him, but He’s going to use you in ways that will make the world see how relevant you are as well.

“But I’m not that smart.” Neither were the disciples. They were commoners and craftsmen, not philosophers and priests.

“I can’t speak that well.” Neither could Moses. He has a speech impediment.

“I’m too old.” So was Abraham, but them Isaac was born.

“I’m too young.” Jeremiah thought the same thing, but God corrected him really quickly and used him as a prophet.

“I’m set in my ways.” Paul was too before he started on the road to Damascus.

“I’m too poor.” John the Baptist lived in the wild and earned no money at all.

“I just can’t.” That’s what most of the people God’s ever used have said.

God told Paul, “My power works best in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9, NLT). It doesn’t matter what you do or don’t have. It doesn’t matter how insignificant you think you are. Where we see defects, God sees His power and opportunities for Him to dazzle.

We see our imperfections as what’s wrong with us. Really, they’re what make us unique, specific people that God loves and wants to use to further His kingdom. What’s “wrong” with you is just a way for God to show how mighty He is. What you “don’t have” is simply God waiting to give you something.

Don’t doubt your worth or your importance for a minute because they’re both immeasurable. One day, when you know everything’s okay and you’re basking in God’s love, you’ll finally see it. And if you forget, that’s okay. God’s always ready to remind you, and He wants to spend eternity doing so.

By Carrie Prevette

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