2015 is yawning with sleep and fullness. There’s only one day left. Can you believe it? Interestingly enough, my current journal is also nearly full. It appears as if the first day of the new year will correspond with the first page of a brand new journal. That, in and of itself, is a gift for this type-A personality. I’m not sure it’s ever happened quite that way. Not in the last six years at least.
This weekend, Josh and I took a drive over to the west side of our little island home to find my next bound-prayer-keeper. As I walked up and down the journal aisle of the book store, I brushed my hand over them all. Picking them up. Flipping through the pages. Looking at the lines. Because all of this? It all begins there. And I settled on an unlikely choice. One that’s more ornate than the plain and clean I’m usually drawn to. And without overthinking it, I bought it. Then we drove up the street for dinner. And I stood in the parking lot and took that photo of the West Mauis showing off in their day-after-Christmas glory. And I remembered His promise.
This morning, I sat in bed with a Wednesday-morning-double-espresso and my eyes laid on these words:
the end of a thing is better than its beginning
I let the words of Ecclesiastes roll over in my mind for a few minutes, thinking about 2015 being wrapped up in a pretty red bow. When the lessons have been learned. And His glory has filled the room. And everyone goes home joyful and glad and full and happy. Because of what God did. I had actually just finished reading that story in particular in 2 Chronicles – when the years of preparations for the building of the temple had been completed. And it was finally built. And it was dedicated. And the people feasted for seven days. And celebrating the end of the building. Because Solomon had finished the house of the LORD, successfully accomplishing the end of all that had come into his heart. And then I came across those words in Ecclesiastes. After studying and journaling and putting the finishing touches on this blog post, I just realized that Solomon himself said those words. He, of all people, understood the impact of them. He, alone, knew the feeling of fulfilling a giant dream of building a house for God.
The ending is better than the beginning. When the endurance has won out. And the unknown has been made known. And patience has been perfected.
Solomon continued his Ecclesiastes thought on beginnings and ends with a matter-of-fact statement that those patient spirits are, indeed, better than arrogant ones. But the Hebrew word he uses for patience doesn’t just mean long or drawn out. It speaks specifically of the long pinions of an eagle – a wing-feather that’s uniquely distinguished from the wing itself. It’s the specific part of that wing that allows the eagle to soar.
Here’s the deal with waiting. When it starts, you’re never really quite sure when it will end. Or what it will hold. And when it begins, it does so with a flurry of Spirit-activity. Of anticipation. And excitement. And vivified direction. It’s the same way that God began His Word. And how He began the world. By leaning down close and hovering over the face of the waters and speaking it into existence. When He leans down and hovers close and vibrates truth into your spirit, the world is your oyster.
And then comes the middle. When the days come and go. And the waiting drags on. And that vivified excitement from the moment He called you has stilled. The vibrating stopped. And the Spirit of God that brooded over the shapeless mass of the earth in the beginning, now broods over you. There’s a funny thing about how eagles brood. They keep their young warm by spreading out their feathers umbrella-like over them. But on their bellies, they develop what’s called a brood patch. It’s an area of bare skin where the eagles lose their feathers so they are better able to keep their young warm.
even eagles practice
You’ve probably heard of the studies. The ones that talk about the importance of skin-to-skin contact with newborn babies. The ones that show when newborns are skin-to-skin, they experience more stabilized heart rates and normal blood pressure. Improved sleep. Lesser reactions to heel sticks or pain. A lower likeliness to cry. And dramatic reductions in stress hormones.
So when the wait lingers long. And the days keep coming. And the stress rises. And the sleep evades. And the tears come. He broods over us. Hovering and spreading out His long pinion wings like an umbrella. In protection. And comfort. To stabilize our heart rate. And ease the anxiety.
And then, when we’re ready – once the tears have stopped and the anxiety eased and the weight of the wait no longer steals our breath – He takes us up and carries us on His pinion wings, leading us forward in the direction we should go.
because they who wait on the LORD mount up with eagle’s wings
And the end is better than the beginning. Ask Job – he’ll tell you. He lost everything. Everything. And was pushed and stretched and stricken and heartbroken. But the LORD blessed his latter days more than his beginning. More than the ones where he had the quiver-full-family. And the beautiful wife. And the successful business. And the 7,000 sheep and 3,000 camels and 500 yoke of oxen and 500 female donkeys. When he was considered the greatest of all the people of the East.
God blessed the end of Job’s life much more than that. Double, actually. And James will tell you that it was the end that God intended Job to have all along. Because there is always purpose in the pain.
So I lift my glass high. And offer a bubbly toast to your 2015. May its end for you be better than its beginning.
LORD, may my patience become my pinions. And the waiting become my wings. May those two things become the tools by which I search out the deep things of You. To explore Your depths. And ascend to Your heights. And extend to Your breadths. And to comprehend Your infinite perfection. Because their measure is longer than the earth and broader than the sea. And it vastly outweighs the wait.