How many times have we suffered from half-finished stories? We take what we can see to be the whole story. We let unanswered questions take us hostage. Some people live their whole lives with half stories. An unredeemed life is a half a story. Death as an end to life on earth is half a story. Isn't everything we call loss just half the story? When we let half stories rule what we think about God ad His ways with us, we live without the faith and hope the whole story wants to deliver.
Remember how half stories took the first followers hostage?
Three women made the trip to the tomb. All three saw it opened and empty. All three heard the angel announcement that Jesus was alive.
But Mary stayed in the garden crying. Paralyzed by the only piece of information she knew first-hand, that the tomb was empty; she felt abandoned, lost, and very much alone.
But that was just half the story.
Mary waited. Emotionally overwhelmed, she couldn’t do anything else but stay in Garden. She had no answers and didn’t want anyone else’s questions. Her pain went deep enough.
But that’s where Jesus met her, in the middle of her half story. Mary recognized his voice. Her tear-filled eyes cleared. She saw Jesus alive and well before her.
Then, she had a whole story to tell and live. There was no reason to stay in the Garden any longer. The whole story came with an assignment: “Go tell my disciples.” And Mary Magdalene became the first witness to the resurrection.
What can we learn from Mary?
Be careful about substituting half stories for the whole story. Half stories keep us stuck.
·Be willing to see evidence that there is more to your story than what you can understand at first. Wait, with tears if you must; but wait for the rest of the story.
·Be willing to leave unanswered questions in God’s hands. It is never God’s will to leave us in half stories. Find new questions so that you can receive answers you can live.
Be honest about your half story feelings and perceptions. Leave a blank for God to fill in the rest of the story in His time.
Jesus calls us out of our half stories to live the whole truth of resurrection. Nothing a half story can do to us is more than what God’s whole story can redeem. We live with the unmistakable hope that resurrection changes the ends to our half stories. We can’t. Our bumbling tries make them worse.
Today, more than a week after Easter, we need to remember that when Jesus walked out of the tomb alive, He demonstrated the power of God’s whole story for us. We never need to stay trapped in half-stories. The resurrection is our reminder that our stories, however ragged or incomplete, have good endings if we let God write them.
Perhaps we all need to a new encounter with the resurrected Jesus, just like Mary.