Don’t Miss the Middle

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At the beginning of every year in elementary school, my teacher would hand out a worksheet with a long list of instructions. She would explain that the goal of this project was the complete the task correctly by the end of the day, which was drawing near.

The first instruction on the worksheet was always the same: “Read the entire list of instructions before starting the assignment.”

I tried to follow the instructions. I would get about halfway through the list, glance at the clock, and look around at my classmates. Most of them were already working on the assignment, so I would join in, only to end the day frustrated, without a completed assignment.

It was always in those last minutes that our teacher would sigh and ask us to read the last instruction in the list. The last instruction was also always the same. It said, “Now that you have read this assignment all the way to the end, turn your paper over and sit quietly until your teacher dismisses you.”

The point of this exercise was never to complete the complicated task; it was to learn to follow the teacher’s instructions.

Eventually, I figured out that the shortcut to accomplishing any assignment was always to take a glance at the last page to ensure there weren’t any surprises before I started, but I still haven’t mastered the skill of following instructions from start to finish.

As Christians, we risk missing some significant instruction from our Savior if we skip to the end of the story and metaphorically flip our paper over and wait. While there is certainly comfort in knowing we have a happy ending coming, there is more to know.

Jesus explained to the disciples in John 3,  a verse you may find familiar, that life will continue after we die. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (NIV).

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