Stories have meaning, and sharing small stories help us find our place in the bigger story of our lives. As a hospice chaplain I often listen to the stories of patients reflect on their lives sharing one meaningful story after another. As they struggle with failing health, sickness, brokenness, and grief, my patients recount stories of family and faith and in-so-doing find hope. In listening to these end-of-life stories I have learned that sometimes the beginning of a story can hold greater significance when reviewed in light of the end of the story.
I am reminded of how the Bible is made of small stories that tie into one big story of hope. And in the same way we can see the significance of the beginning of the story as we read with the end in mind. As a seminary professor once told me, “read the Bible from left to right…and then left again.”
The grand narrative of the Bible opens with the book of Genesis with God creating everything out of nothing (Gen. 1:1), creating humankind in His own image (Gen. 1:26-27), and giving them the charge to create and cultivate (Gen. 1:28). The subsequent chapters and books tell story after story of brokenness, sickness, and grief. Yet every story has woven within it a strand of hope giving us a glimpse of eternal restoration. As we fast-forward to the last book of the Bible we get an image of Jesus proclaiming, ““Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:5). We find hope in our future “newness” in Christ.
So how does hearing the end of the story of “all things new” shed light on the beginning of God creating men and women as image-bearers who are charged to “creative and cultivate?” How does viewing our past through the lens of our future cause us to cultivate hope in our present circumstances amidst brokenness, sickness, and grief?
First, remember that all men and women are created in God’s image. This applies to you and everyone you meet: family, coworkers, patients, neighbors, and all of humanity. As we inherently reflect God’s image, we give a glimpse of the hope of Christ making all things new.
Second, the charge in Genesis 1:28 to “create and cultivate” still applies to us today. I think of our hospice patients who paint and make crafts, our nurses who display compassionate care, the corporate office partners who steward God’s resources, and the groundskeepers who make the facilities beautiful.
We all have the opportunity and the responsibility to create and cultivate an environment of hope. As we do so we can trust that we are giving a glimpse of our future as we wait “for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13), the One who truly makes all things new.