The Ending Isn't Conclusive
My favorite movies are the ones that end inconclusively.
The ones that don't tie everything together at the end.
The ones that leave you sitting in the theater scratching your head.
Some people are frustrated and exasperated by this type movie, but, for me, they cause a big grin to come across my face. I love them.
I love them because the end of the movie is really just the beginning. The story doesn't end just because the credits begin to roll. Rather, the movie lives on within my mind, playing on repeat, asking questions and begging me to consider the implications.
What is this movie trying to say?
Good stories do this. They stay with us long after we've first experienced them. They contain elements of mystery and confusion that demand further thought and discussion.
I think of movies like Hitchcock's The Birds or Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. A more recent example would be Nolan's Inception or even Cuarón's Gravity (a personal favorite of mine).
Watching movies like this are a very spiritual experience for me because my faith is often the same way.
It's not conclusive.
There are a lot of things that can't be nailed down with absolute certainty. Many people try, but a lot of their "answers" don't do it for me.
When I read the Bible, it doesn't answer all of my questions.
I leave with more questions than when I started. And as I go deeper into Christianity, it gets bigger and more mysterious. And I like this.
You would think that the more a person understands about God and the Bible, the less mysterious they would be. But the opposite is actually true.
The more we know, the more we don't know.
God isn't conclusive for us. We can't nail Him down. Some people tried to a few thousand years ago, but He got right back up. And He has the scars to prove it.
I've Put the Hammer Away
I didn't always like the fact that I couldn't nail things down. For the longest time, I tried to make Christianity be a movie with a conclusive ending. One time, I tried to "nail down my salvation" in an attempt to "know that I know that I know" I was saved. But I never could make it work despite what people told me.
It might work for some people, but not for me.
There has and always will be doubt present in my life here on earth.
But, as I've explained before on this blog, there can be no faith without doubt. So, I'm content with doubt.
I'm content with the open-endedness of my faith.
I embrace the questions and the mystery rather than letting them upset me.
I grin when the credits begin to roll even though there are questions that have been left unanswered.
Jesus and His Questions
One of the things I love most about Jesus is the fact that He often asked questions without providing answers.
A person would ask Jesus a question, and, rather than give him or her an answer, He'd respond with another question.
He ticked some people off with this behavior.
Some people would rather have more answers than questions. Some people would rather see a movie that ties everything together at the end.
But I like when the ending isn't conclusive.
Sure, it can be frustrating at times because knowing provides a lot more peace than not knowing. But, faith wouldn't be faith if we had a conclusive answer.
Does my enjoyment of questions and inconclusive endings mean I don't like answers and truths you can nail down? Of course not.
I like to see movies that have "perfect" endings. I grab on to definite truths and answers.
But, I also keep the mystery alive. I try my best to let God be God, resting in the knowledge that His ways are higher than my ways.
Do I Like Rob Bell?
Recently someone asked me if I liked Rob Bell. If you're unfamiliar with Rob Bell, he's a very controversial pastor and teacher in the sphere of evangelical Christianity. He believes some things that people consider to be unorthodox.
I said that I do like Rob Bell. And I do.
I like him because he asks great questions. And he's not afraid to respond to a question by asking another question rather than providing an answer.
Rob Bell makes me think. He challenges me.
I recently read his book called Love Wins which is his most controversial book. In it, he asks a lot of hard questions about the reality of heaven and hell.
I really enjoyed the book. I didn't agree with everything he said, but I really liked the book. I would recommend it to others.
I enjoyed it because it caused me to dive deeper, asking more and more questions.
My favorite stories, books, and teachers do this to me. They never let me stay where I am. They beckon me to move forward, to go deeper, and to not become apathetic.
Jesus does this.
I hope that my writing will do this.
Become Like Children
Jesus once said that if we don't become like little children, we won't enter the kingdom of heaven.
What are children well known for? Asking questions. They don't have all the answers, but they have open minds and desire truth.
"What makes the sky blue?"
"Where do babies come from?"
Maybe it's called "child-like faith" because children still have a sense of mystery and wonder.
Jesus also said, "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
Children are humble in their search for knowledge and truth. They're not afraid to ask questions. Even the hard ones that stump adults or make them nervous.
Children aren't afraid to admit they don't know something.
I wish I were more like a child. I need to be more humble in my search for truth. Do you?
Endings Are Hard
For me, the hardest part about the writing process is writing the ending. Whether it's the ending of a chapter or the ending of a blog post, I've always wrestled over how to bring it all together.
I think I've finally learned my lesson.
The ending of something shouldn't bring things to a close. Rather, it should be like opening a door. A door to greater things and more exciting questions.
So, let's open doors.
And embrace endings that aren't conclusive.