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The True Happily Ever After

The True Happily Ever After
Caitlin Browning

"But for my own part," wrote author Jane Austen, "if a book is well written, I always find it too short." Austen's pen has delighted many a reader over the past 200 years. I love hearing again and again about her heroes' and heroines' flaws and mistakes, yet how their inner character is changed for the better and leads to a happy ending.

We also travel a mistake-filled road as flawed and sinful people, and we know that endings are never quite so perfect in real life. Love, goodness and a lot of money are a rare combination! Our Explorers Two Bible reading takes us through the second half of the Old Testament. We started our reading this year with the story of Joshua and will soon be reading about Samson. Each of the characters that we encounter – Jael, Gideon, Samuel, David – have potential to be heroes, heroines, or at least a good example to follow. Upon careful reading, though, the students and I find that most of these biblical characters do what is right sometimes and what is wrong other times. Think of Gideon, to whom God appeared, who needed repeated assurance that God was with him. Think of Samuel, who trusted God as a boy but did not train up his children in the Lord. Think of Samson, who God chose to fight against the Philistines, but chose a second wife (never mind the first one) from this same people against his parents' wishes and God's command.

At the same time, we read that God chose to use these same people and many others as part of His plan. God chose to make good come from prideful or selfish choices. Think of Ruth the Moabite, who came from an idol-worshipping land yet became part of God's people and Jesus' lineage. Think of Saul, who, although he became jealous of the people's love for David, was repentant at the end of his life. Think of King Nebuchadnezzar, who put Daniel and his friends in the fiery furnace, yet was humbled and afterwards praised the one, true God before the nations.

The students and I are just like these people! We sin and at the same time know that God loves us enough to forgive our sins and help us love Him and others. As we read His Word, God grows our character to reflect Jesus more and more. The true happy ending is that God is changing us for the better as we apply the good news of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection to our every day travelings. Although Austen will remain on my shelf to be re-read often, may God's Word be in our homes, on our night stands, in our cars, on our walls, in our mouths, and on our hearts as our favorite story of all.