To Read or Not to Read… Ahead

book list
I read something in my devotional recently that left me indignant. This one, seemingly insignificant, line ignited a little firestorm of conversation inside my head. It happens often. Some of the best conversations I have, are with myself (or my conscience. But that’s another story…)
What riled me up so? This…
“Also, by knowing the end of the story, I can decide if it’s worth the time to keep reading.”
Oh! Mylanta! I just gotta tell ya, nothing – and I mean nothing – has ever ruined a good story for me like knowing the end from the beginning. And to read that someone would deliberately choose to read ahead so that they could know the end and decide whether they wanted to bother with the rest, the middle, the meat of the story? Ugh!
That was my first thought, anyway. “UGH!”
My next thought was quite different. I began to weave together pieces of some of my favorite stories. Stories that captured my emotions from the very first page; words that continued to pull my heart-strings or pique my intellectual curiosity or make me long for justice right on through until the very final paragraph. Thinking through these stories, I quickly came to realize that I would have continued reading them even if I knew how they would end.
It’s simple, really. All of the good stories, all of them, have a story line that is so central to the human condition that anyone can identify with them. We can identify with one or more of the characters in specific and sympathetic ways. We can see ourselves in their choices. Their angst reflects our own. The ending is one we wish we experienced ourselves, or we could have, or wonder if might have even been feasible for us. We read these words and sentences with so much emotion that it’s no wonder so many book lovers will tell you that they are exhausted at the end of a great read. They might even tell you that they felt a little like they were coming down from an incredible high.
Have you ever experienced a story like this?
I have. Many times over. And I experience the story each and every time I pick up my Bible and read. I experience afresh the awesome and inconceivable love that the God of the universe has for me. I’ve read before that the Bible is a collection of God’s love letters to you. And to me. I’ve always found that trite. After so many years of reading this one story, I now realize that it’s not trite. It’s Truth.
The ending was revealed to me back in 1996 when I read the Bible through, cover to cover, for the very first time.
Even so, I’ve decided it’s well worth it to keep reading. Because this is the best kind of story to know the ending to. A True story. The True Story. And if you haven’t read it in a while, it’s the best book recommendation I could ever make.
And intentionally reading the ending first? It’s actually encouraged. Oh yes indeedy!