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Dannah Gresh: There’s a reason that fairy tales end with “happily ever after.” Throughout generations we’ve been obsessed with happy endings! Maybe that’s because, deep down, we know there must be an ultimate Author who sets everything right. Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Not every chapter in this life has a happy ending, but we can be confident that every true child of God will live happily ever after! You can trust God to “write” your story, and you can be sure that, in the end, He will “right” your story.

Leslie Basham: This is the Revive Our Hearts podcast with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, along with Dannah Gresh, for September 27, 2019. 

Dannah: If you’ve been listening in this month, you know that we’ve been talking about trusting God to write our stories. I hope you haven’t missed any of it. If you have, be sure to go back and catch those programs because there’s rich content and beautiful stories of other women who are trusting God to write their stories.

You can do that by visiting us at ReviveOurHearts.com and looking at the archives. And I want to encourage you, too—if you’ve been encouraged to really push reset on trusting God with your story, no matter what it looks like—would you consider sharing that on social media to encourage others to trust God to write their story? 

Be sure to use #TrustGodToWriteYourStory. That way we can find it and share it, too. Now here’s Nancy with our final message in this series,”You Can Trust God to Write Your Story.”

Nancy: Throughout this series we’ve talked a lot about some of the important elements of a good story. We’ve talked about characters and plot. But I want to remind us as we come toward the end of this series about the importance of a good ending—appropriately enough.

A good conclusion to a story makes everything that has taken place up to that point meaningful. If you don’t have a good ending, you’re left disappointed. You’ve seen a movie or read a book where you go, “Oh no!” You just groan at the end: “That’s an awful ending! It didn’t clear up any mysteries; it didn’t show me anything!”

We want the endings to tie up really beautifully and to have that fairy tale ending. I think there’s something in our hearts that wants to know the story is going to end well. Sometimes the ending of the story is not at all what you expected! 

You may remember, back when you were in school, studying stories, reading short stories, reading some stories by a man named William Sydney Porter . . . better known by his pen name, O. Henry. Remember that, O. Henry? You have probably read or heard his story “The Gift of the Magi,” which has been retold in countless forms and variations over the past hundred years since he first wrote it.

The signature feature of O. Henry’s short stories is their surprise endings. You get to the final page and you say, “Whoa! I didn’t expect that!” But now suddenly everything makes sense and, as the reader, you’re rewarded for your patience. You’re satisfied that the ending is as it should be. But it caught you off-guard; it wasn’t what you were expecting.

Well, in the end, God’s story is going to be satisfying, rewarding. It’s going to be exactly what we thought it should be if we had known what God knew. And for those who have trusted God with their story, the end will be far better than anything we have ever imagined!

You see, we sit here from our little place on earth—our little moment in history—and we think, “Oh, this would be a great story! I think my story should end with me getting married . . . or my husband becoming a Christian . . . or my child returning from being a prodigal and coming back repentant . . . or with my husband getting a better job than the one he lost. . .or the person that stole that money from me . . . or the person who stole my innocence. . .

We think we know how this should end, how it should all come about. But for those who have trusted God to write their story—I repeat—the end will be far better than anything we have ever imagined or would have tried to script ourselves.

In Hebrews chapter 11, and I want to invite you to turn there if you have a Bible with you or you can scroll on your phone. We’re going to take just a brief look at Hebrews 11, and actually, we’re going to read several passages of Scripture, because I want God to tell you the end of His story, as we come to the end of this series.

Hebrews chapter 11, you remember, is a long list of heroes of the faith. We admire these men and women for their accomplishments. We want to emulate their faith. But most of their stories had pages, or whole chapters, that none of us would want to have as part of our story! 

In fact, many of these great men and women of God had what we might consider tragic endings . . . not at all the way we think the stories of God’s faithful servants should end! Look, for example, at Hebrews 11:35. (Now I’m skipping over all the good stuff: their accomplishments, their achievements, the great feats they accomplished.)

Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 

Does that sound like the kind of story you’d want God to write for you? Does it sound like the kind of story that a good and loving and faithful God would write for one of His own children?

I mean, these are the problems of dealing with the Providence of God. These are the hard questions. These are the unanswered questions for most of our lives here, maybe for all of our lives here. So my question is, How did these faithful saints endure this hardship? What kept them from throwing in the towel and calling it quits? 

What kept them from turning their backs on God; what kept them from doubting God and saying, “I’ll write my own story! I can do it better than you!” For starters, these men and women knew that what they could see was not the end of the story. They knew that God had more in store for them just ahead. 

And holding fast to that promise enabled them to persevere in hope, even when their suffering went through their entire life! Look at verse 13 of Hebrews chapter 11: 

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar [How did they see them? By faith, right?] and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. . . .they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city (vv. 13–14, 16).

They knew, “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through.” They knew that God had prepared for them something that would make all the pain and the struggle and the heartache and the hurt of this world . . . Creation, Fall—-the fallenness created a brokenness, a pain, a suffering—but God is redeeming this world, and He is going to make a new Creation.

They knew that the New Creation, the new heavens and the new earth, the new city where there is no sin, that this was ahead. So they clung to God with naked faith, raw faith, gutsy faith when they could not see the outcome. When it looked like the enemies of God were winning, they clung to God, because they knew God had prepared for them something better!

They did not see the whole story during their lifetime here on earth. Nor can we see the whole story during our brief stay here on earth. Scripture says those who trust in Him will never be disappointed (see Isa. 49:23 NIV). You see, not every chapter in this life has a happy ending. But we can be confident that every true child of God will live happily after.

You can trust God to “write” your story and you can be sure that, in the end, He will “right” your story. And what hope that should give us between now and then! To know that every sin or injustice committed against you, every sinful or foolish choice you made or that someone else made that impacted your life, everything you feared would permanently mark and mar your life, all that was confusing and convoluted and corrupt, one day it will all be made right! 

And in God’s Word He tells us just enough about the end of the story, the very end, the eternal end, to give us hope and courage to face what lies between here and there.

Sometimes I find, and maybe you do, too, that I just grow weary of all the bad news—the hard news, the heartbreaking news in the world, people around me—the toxic fruits of sin and disease and war and rebellion and injustice in the world. I’m weary of the sinful behavior of people who reject Christ, reject the gospel, the persecution of our brothers and sisters in the faith around the world, the sinful attitudes of people who claim to know Jesus but don’t act like Him, the sinful responses and reactions and tendencies in my own heart. I just grow tired of it all! And I can see from your nodding heads that you do, too.

As we read through our Bibles—which I hope you do read through your Bible, because if you want to know God’s story you’ve got to see this whole thing in context and perspective—over and over again we read about the goodness of God, the human sin and rebellion, the redeeming work of Christ, and then the mercy of Christ rejected. It seems like an endless cycle.

It gets wearying. When will it ever end!? As I read through the Scripture and I see those cycles, this is why in my readings through the Bible I love coming to the book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible. I’m going to ask you to turn there as we come toward the end of this series. I want to read to you the end of the story! The end-end of the story.

There’s a lot about Revelation I don’t understand, and you’re not going to understand what I don’t understand as a result of me teaching this session, because I still don’t understand what I don’t understand in Revelation. There’s lots of mystery there. But I’m okay with that. I’m okay with mystery.

I don’t have to know: is it pre-? . . . is it post? . . . is it this? . . . is it . . .? All those theological terms, I don’t have any idea. But here’s what I see in Revelation. I love Revelation because you have these themes that are going through it. 

The themes are on parallel tracks of war and worship. The goal is that the One who is seated on the throne, and the Lamb at His right hand, will be worshipped forever and ever! But there is war! There are enemies of God who seek to tear down God, who don’t worship Him, but they reject and resist Him. There is a battle for worship throughout Revelation.

And you see it intensifying on both sides. You see God pouring out His judgments on the earth. You see the men of the earth getting more and more wicked. You see Satan and his emissaries and his hosts getting more and more vile and violent, and it’s intense! 

This is why we love those movies—the series where there are like the last battles. There’s the end, there’s the climax, and you love it when the good guy finally wins and evil is vanquished!

The prototype for those kinds of stories that capture our hearts is found here in the book of Revelation, which is a glimpse of God’s great big story. 

So we read about the Lamb seated on the throne (I’m not quoting, but I’m referencing chapters 4 and 5 of Revelation) with myriads of angels and all creatures in heaven and on earth who are worshipping Him. We go, “Yes! This is wonderful!” We sing about it at church. 

Then we read about all the kings and rulers and people of the earth who don’t want to worship Him. They reject His rule! They join forces to try and bring Him down from His throne. They demand—the beast demands and the people of the beast demand—total allegiance to them and not to the Lamb. 

There’s this conflict. There are those who refuse to bow to the Lamb, and then there are those who refuse to bow to the antichrist. And the blood of the good guys is spilled on the earth. They are the martyrs. 

Then we read about the bowls of wrath and the judgments of God poured out on the earth. And those who survive these judgments refuse to repent. They just get further hardened against God. This is stuff that makes great stories because it is The Great Story. It is this conflict between God and those who are opposed to God. We see this war for worship, this battle for worship. And here’s the hard part: at times it looks like the enemy is winning!

Let me read to you beginning in chapter 12 of Revelation; turn there if you would. I’m just going to cherry-pick some verses here that give you the overall idea. Revelation 12:17: 

Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

This is Satan attacking and successfully opposing—for a while—those who follow Christ and want to obey Him. Look at the next chapter, chapter 13:5: 

The beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 

Who allowed the beast to do that? God did. So it looks like the beast is winning. Verse 7,

Also it [the beast] was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. [That doesn’t sound like a story God would write, but it is.] And authority was given [the beast] over every tribe and people and language and nation.

And on it goes, the battle intensifying. If you didn’t know the end, you would be biting your nails—terrified, depressed at times. Let me just interject here before I move us on to Revelation chapter 19. Just imagine, those of you who are into sports. (I’m way more into sports since I got married than I ever was before!) You’re watching your favorite sports team play in a championship game. 

Maybe it’s March Madness or it’s a World Series or it’s a Master’s golf tournament, but you’re watching this championship. It’s your favorite player or team, and the game is down to the wire, and the two teams are neck-and-neck. 

Now, normally, you’d be on the edge of your seat holding your breath yelling, “No way!” when a bad call or play is made . . . but not this time!

Instead, you grab a snack, and you sit back in your favorite chair, and you put your feet up and you enjoy the game. You’re not the least bit anxious. Why? Because you’re watching a replay. (laughter) You’ve already heard the outcome. You know that your team won! And that totally changes the way you watch the game. 

You know how it’s going to end, so there’s no need to be stressed. Now, of course, life is far more serious than a game and at times a lot more like war. But for those who are in Christ, there is no need to fret . . . no matter what frustrating calls or plays made be made. Why? Because we know Who wins! 

And that’s why we can keep on trusting God, even in those times when our story isn’t unfolding the way we had hoped it would or thought it should. Now, we can’t see the end, but God gives us a glimpse of it here in the book of Revelation. I told you in this series that I’ve been reading and meditating on Isaiah the last several weeks.

You see glimpses of this Revelation story in the book of Isaiah—and other parts of the Scripture as well—but there’s no place that it’s more clearly stated than here in Revelation. So as we come toward the end of Revelation, look at chapter 19. If I have a favorite paragraph in the Scripture, it’s probably this one. I love this image!

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems [or crowns], and he has a name written that no one knows but himself.

He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron.

He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. . . . And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army (Rev. 19:11–16, 19).

So you have these two huge armies pitted against each other in the heavenlies. Verse 20: 

And the beast was captured [amen and amen!], and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.

And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh (vv. 20–21). 

It’s gruesome; it is gruesome, but it is Christ conquering. He has given opportunity to repent and to believe the gospel. These are those who have resisted, who have resented, who have refused to believe in Him, who have refused to repent. 

They’ve been given opportunity after opportunity after opportunity. They have said, “No! We will not have You to rule over us!” And finally, having extended mercy and grace for so long, God says, “Have it your way.” 

And Christ comes not this time as the Suffering Servant nailed to the cross but this time as the exalted, triumphant Servant of the Most High God. He comes to conquer and to rescue His own, to redeem them from the claws and the jaws of the enemy and to destroy the enemy! You see these two themes all through Scripture: the judgment of the wicked and the salvation of the righteous.

How are they righteous? Not because they’re good; they’re all sinners, but they have been made righteous through faith in Jesus Christ. And for those who trust in Christ, the end of the story is salvation, it’s goodness, it’s beauty, it’s joy, it’s eternal life, it’s “happily ever after.” Those who refuse to repent and believe, for them it is eternal judgment.

And so we have the judgment of the wicked there in chapter 19, and then we come to chapter 21. There are so many good parts, I’m skipping over some. It’s all good! But I just want to give you a glimpse of this. Revelation chapter 21, verse 1: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth . . .” Remember we said Creation, Fall, Redemption. . . New Creation!

I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true” (Rev. 21:1–5).

Skip over to chapter 22 (the last chapter of the Bible), verses 1–2: 

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city also, on either side of the river, the tree of life (Rev. 22:1–2). 

Where was the last time you saw this tree of life? In the Garden of Eden! God intended for mankind to eat and enjoy the tree of life forever, but Adam and Eve were banished from the garden because they ate of the other tree that God had forbidden them to eat. But now God says, “I’m making all things new! Eat forever of the tree of life!” 

The tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. [How beautiful is that when you see what’s going on in the nations of the world today?]

No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever (vv. 2–5).

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen (vv. 20–21). 

The end of the story—a glimpse of it. Amen! Let it be so. Come Lord Jesus. And in the meantime, the grace of Christ be with you all. You see, there’s grace for this part of the story . . . all the way from now until the end!

Perhaps you’ve read the final installment in C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia. The book is called The Last Battle, and the last chapter of the last book in this series is called “Farewell to Shadowlands.” I want to read to you as we close this teaching series. It’s the closing paragraph of that chapter.

And as He [that is Aslan, the Lion, the Christ-figure in the Chronicles of Narnia] spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after.

But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.” 

Amen to that!

Oh Father, how we thank You that the story You’re writing—the real story—is the one that gives us hope and faith and courage and grace to live life in these early pages: the title page, the cover. That’s all we’re seeing. But You’ve given us glimpses of the end, and we love what we see. It’s beautiful! 

We long for that ending, which isn’t at all an ending, but the beginning of an eternal joy and journey with You. So in the meantime help us, Lord, to trust when we cannot see . . . to trust that You are writing the story. You’re writing our story. You are good. You are faithful. You are God and those who trust in You will never, ever be disappointed! We thank You, we bless You. In Jesus’ name, amen!

Dannah: I don’t know about you, but sometimes I really need the comfort of considering the fact that in the end Jesus will right all the wrongs! Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been helping us take a peek at the end of God’s grand story. It’s something she and her husband, Robert, wrote about in their new book: You Can Trust God to Write Your Story: Embracing the Mysteries of Providence.

We want to send you a copy. It’s our way of saying “thank you” when you make a gift to Revive Our Hearts in any amount this month. Just visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com; you can make your gift there, or call us at 1–800–569–5959. 

I want to invite you to pray for the Revive ’19 conference. It starts tonight. I hope to see some of you there, and I know that tens of thousands will be joining us online! If you haven’t registered yet to join us by livestream, make sure you visit ReviveOurHearts.com right now for details.

If you’ve ever felt that you needed revival or you just needed to be refreshed in your walk with Christ, be sure to listen to the series that Nancy is starting on Monday. It’s all about finding refreshment as we seek the Lord. I’m Dannah Gresh, inviting you to please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to challenge you to trust the One who will someday “right” your story! The podcast is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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