Posted on May 5, 2016
Some Words for the Month of May and Endings
We’ve been doing this all year. The list of words and the sentences that need to be written. The first grader curled up on his legs in the space of his little homework desk. Frustrated, anxious and hopeful that I will just give him all the answers and end the ‘sight word sentence writing torture’. But I am resilient. I do not write 1st grade sight word sentences. Even in the face of tears and pleading and sweet little neighbor faces waiting at the front door to play. I do not write 1st grade sight word sentences. And he knows this. Yet, he is sly, this little one of mine.
“Hey mom!” he whispers over to me as I work at my own desk. “Have you ever written a sentence with the word ‘end’ in it?” He chews the side of his pencil and smiles this toothless little grin. “Like, ever? And if you have, what did it say?”
I do not write 1st grade sight word sentences. Sneaky little dude. He bangs his head on his desk when I foil his plan. But then he pops right back up. “I know one! I do not … want it to end!” he proclaims joyfully scratching down the words on the paper. “Hey, I did it!” he laughs, still trying to decide of ‘want’ has an ‘h’ in it or not.
I watch in awe and amazement. Here we are, the very last week of 1st grade homework, and finally a sentence is written without the threat of bodily harm! I read the sentence again because something in me needs to be reassured.
“What don’t you want to end, buddy?” I ask.
“Any of it. I love it all. Especially 1st grade and friends. I wish it could go on forever.” He smiles, this wise smile reaching even his eyes. And then he hugs me because he sees my tears. Me neither, buddy. Me, neither.
I don’t want it to end either. And not just 1st grade. Any of it. Well, except maybe writing these sight word sentences – that could end.
But it’s that time of year. The ending/beginning time of year. The time of year that steals your breath with the way it all went by so fast. The time of year that makes you wish you could just stick some of it in your pocket and hold it forever.
And it isn’t like we haven’t seen it coming. Right?
We all know that things are going end; that there will be a “last time” for everything. But there is something about the happening of it that spins us around and gives us eyes we did not have before.
So what do you do with an ending? How do you hold it loosely and walk into the next beginning? This month of May so often begs us to find the answers to these questions. It breaks our hearts; the way it is all over. Yet it gives us glimpses of what lies ahead; this newness that God stretches out right in front of our tear-filled eyes.
Because it seems God has a thing for beginnings and endings. Me, I tend to like the middles. Life that knows how to behave. Predictability and a certainty that I can handle it all. By May, though, that is all gone. I come to this end of myself and look around wondering how I will ever handle what comes next.
But then God whispers this verse to my scattered heart, right in the middle of 1st grade homework time. “I am the Alpha and the Omega. The Beginning and the End.” These precious words of God that the Apostle John records for us in Revelation, the very last book of the Bible.
Because he knew that May would come.
He knew where we would be standing when we would realize that it was ending. The elementary school years. The season of ministry. The preschool playdates. The high school days. The perfect job. The morning walks. Even the days where all the babies cried at the table, no one slept, the homework was endless and no one was nice. They, too, would end. And he knew how it would feel to stand right where you are. To wonder. To want it all back just for a moment; so you could slow it down, notice everything, and hold it all a little tighter. But he cannot give us that. So instead, he gives us so much more. He gives us himself. God. The Beginning. The Ending.
You see, that verse. It does not say, “I am in the beginnings and in the endings.” He said – I AM the Beginning. I AM the Ending. (Revelation 21:6). I AM the one that started it all and the one who ends it all. And I AM with you until the ends of the earth. I AM. Those are the Hebrew letters that form the very name of God. Yahweh. Immanuel. God with us – in the beginning and in the ending.
I hear him speak it like this: This ending that came so quickly and is breaking your heart – it has nothing on you because I AM right here. And this beginning that makes your knees shake and your heart beat quicken – I AM there too. I AM the God of all creation and I’ve got this. You are not standing here alone.
So take a deep breath. Open your eyes and take it all in. The way it feels to stand in an ending moment of time. Be all there. Taste the tears. Hear the laughter.
But then turn. Turn your eyes upon this new beginning and survey the landscape. He’s there too. The beginning and the ending and all the middles that will follow. “The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27). Underneath these endings and these beginnings is the one that holds all things together. And He will never end.
So bring it on, May, we’ve got this.