I am perhaps one of the 8 or so people in the western hemisphere who never watched an episode of The Sopranos. The show hasn’t been TV since 2007, but a conversation I had at lunch yesterday got me thinking about it.
Even if you have never seen a moment of the show, you probably heard about the series finale. It was huge news at the time. Here’s the last 5-minute scene from the ending:
Six seasons. 86 episodes. Blank screen. Silence.
The panic that set in to the fanbase of the show was amazing. Many thought they had lost their TV signal. And the end to a univerally acclaimed show was met with extensive angst. After following these characters for years, people demanded resolution to the story. But none came.
The longing for resolution distracted people from the beauty of the story.
Before I got into youth ministry, I worked as an operations manager for a branch of a national bank. At the end of each day, it was my job to make sure that everything balanced out. We would check the money in each teller drawer, match the amounts to the records and put everything up for the night. Each day I would drive home knowing that everything from the day was wrapped up. Finished. Resolved.
Man, I miss those days.
One of the challenges of working with teenagers is the lack of resolution. They enter my ministry as unfinished products and leave my ministry as unfinished products. Through all of the change and growth, I know that who they are at 18 is just a shadow of what they will become.
It’s kind of beautiful, but the lack of resolution kills me.
Sometimes I wish I could feel that same type of resolution I felt at the bank. I wish I could feel like I’d finally finished – that I’d arrived. To feel that kind of peace knowing that the difficulty and complication was behind me.
But my longing for resolution distracts me from the beauty of the struggle.
One of the great things about following Christ is that he has assured us of the resolution. While this life offers us little, we are told the end of the story:
God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. (Ephesians 1:9-11)
But the end often seems so far out of our reach. The key is not allowing my longing for the destination to distract me from the journey. Because beauty is found in the journey.
So today will probably not be an end to your struggle. All your loose ends will not be tied up like the end of a half hour sitcom episode. There will still be things left unsaid or undone.
But do not let that distract you from the journey. Because that’s where the beauty is.
“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.” – Arthur Ashe