Monday, October 18, 2010

Everyone Loves a Happy Ending

by Niki Turner

America's pulpits probably overflowed yesterday with Christian metaphors about the dramatic rescue of the thirty-three Chilean miners. No matter how you look at it, the story provides some fabulous sermon fodder.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera (R) embraces the last miner to be rescued, Luis Urzua, who is credited with organizing trapped miners to ration food and save themselves, at the end of the rescue operation at the San Jose mine in Copiapo, October 13, 2010. All of Chile's 33 trapped miners were rescued from the bowels of the earth in a special capsule on Wednesday as a extraordinary two-month survival story many call a miracle triggered wild celebrations.  REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado (CHILE - Tags: DISASTER BUSINESS IMAGES OF THE DAY)We've all imagined the horror these men experienced. We've wondered if they would make it out alive. We've considered whether our sanity would remain intact in the same situation. We've prayed for them and for their families. We've groaned at the idea they might not get out until Christmas or later, and we rejoiced when we heard the news that the attempts to reach them were successful.

When the actual rescue began, previously scheduled programs were interrupted and reporters from every major media outlet offered play by play reports about the safety of the men. Some channels created mock-ups of the rescue capsule for their studios to demonstrate its size. (You've gotta love the BBC's comparison to Dr. Who's Tardis time machine!)

via Wikimedia Commons

As writers and as Christians, there's a lesson for us in the midst of the international media hullabaloo: Good news and a happy ending captures the world's attention just as well as a negative story or a heart-rending tearjerker. Maybe even better.

"Gospel" is one of those funny Greek words we forgot to translate into English. It literally means "good message" or "good news." We (who've already been rescued) are supposed to be reporters of God's good news to a world that is as trapped in darkness as those miners were last week.

Residents rally in support of the miners trapped in the San Jose mine, as they gather to watch the rescue on a large screen in a public square in Copiapo October 12, 2010. Chile's 33 trapped miners are set to travel nearly half a mile through solid rock in a shaft just wider than a man's shoulders on Tuesday night, as their two month ordeal after a cave-in draws to an end. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo (CHILE - Tags: DISASTER ENERGY BUSINESS)

And yet we who have made it to the light seem compelled to spend a lot of time grousing about the bad behavior of our fellow rescuers (or the other miners) or returning to the pit to examine it more thoroughly and gripe about how dark it is and how awful the people who live there are.

Um... Not. Helping.

Since the rescue, the media has jumped on the story of one miner who is returning home to his mistress, instead of to his wife. (In Chile, where divorce is not permitted, this is not an uncommon lifestyle. The men simply move out and start new families, the same way they divorce and remarry here.) Can you imagine the uproar if the rescuers had said, "He's a sinner. Leave him in the hole." Yet how often do we look at a person's sin and decide to exclude them from the Gospel message? Ouch. God didn't do that to us, just like the rescuers didn't leave that dude in the pit.
"It was God [personally present] in Christ, reconciling and restoring the world to favor with Himself, not counting up and holding against [men] their trespasses [but canceling them], and committing to us the message of reconciliation (of the restoration to favor)." 2 Cor 5:19 Amplified

Is that the Good News you've heard, that God isn't counting up sins like some bean counter in heaven, making little black marks next to your name every time you blow it? That God likes you so much he opted to erase all your sins and debts and transgressions, and sent Jesus to make sure the contract for your complete redemption was signed and sealed once and for all?

That IS our message - in word, in deed, in music, in poetry or prose. And that good news is the power of God unto salvation. Don't be afraid to share it with somebody, because everyone loves a happy ending.


  1. What an indictment, Niki. But too true of me at times. Thanks for the thoughtful metaphor. I think this will stick with me for some time to come.

  2. I know I usually stop by with a one sentence comment, but this was a great post.

  3. I think if we share the good news in love and humility and understanding, that the world will be able to receive that sort of message. I wish more Christians would operate that way.

  4. I knew about the miners, but I was in my cave and didn't know anything about the rescue until I fired up my laptop the next morning and my Yahoo Info box raved about it. I've been singing praises since.

    I'm not one to spread the gospel to everyone I meet. However, my life has been riddled with opportunities where I see someone and feel a 'nudge'. Every time I respond to one of those nudges, I find someone crying out for God's love and mercy. So I share.

    And the times I feel the nudge and for whatever reason don't share, then I regret it. Always. Forever. A black moment in my life.

    It's so much better to heed the nudge and share. :)

    Great post, Niki.

    Anita Mae.

  5. Lisa,
    It really got to me, too. One of those stories where God taps you on the shoulder and says, "Excuse me, there are people trapped in darkness all around you, what are you doing about it?"

  6. adge,
    Thank you! We appreciate your one-sentence comments!

  7. Dina,
    DITTO. Just a glimpse into the history of how white people tried to convert the Native Americans is a clear indicator that somewhere between Christ and CHURCH we lost something very important in the presentation of the message.

  8. Anita,
    Oh, so true. It's easy to explain that little nudge away. Not so easy to explain to God later why we were just big chickens!
    There are so many ways to share the message of Christ. Only one of them involves the Roman Road and kneeling to pray! Sometimes we are just a little rain shower on seeds already sown, and sometimes the demonstration of God's goodness and kindness without words is what's needed.
    Listening and responding to the nudge is the key!
    Thanks, Anita!

  9. What a wonderful reminder for us to live as people who have been set free by His truth!

  10. Niki, I keep making comments on your awesome post and then I get a message about a server error and my comment disappears, so I'm giving up. But I wanted to say AWESOME post, challenging and poignant!

  11. Niki, I keep making comments on your awesome post and then I get a message about a server error and my comment disappears, so I'm giving up. But I wanted to say AWESOME post, challenging and poignant!

  12. Cheryl,
    Thanks for commenting. I hope the rescue continues to remind us all of those who are still trapped in the darkness.

  13. Susie,
    Thank you! Not sure what's up with the comments!

  14. Great post Niki. I noticed tonight on the news that the media was stirring up negative news stories already--I was so disappointed. I don't expect these Chilean miners to be perfect but you can be sure detractors will find a way to spin all the goodness out of their story.

    For all the coal miner's blood flowing in my veins from many generations worth of Welsh miners, the thought of what they went through still makes me a bit fluttery in my stomach. An unforgetable story!

  15. Deb,
    I've got Welsh coal miners in my family history, too! And then they moved on to Kentucky. Most died of black lung, and none had all their fingers. Such a hard, hard job.

  16. Great post. Trying to catch up on my Inky gals here.

    The lady from Romantic Times asked authors the question: What will you never do in your books?

    I said I would never have anything but a happy ending because, as Christians, our lives end with a happy ending, so why would I make my books sad at the end, as they are a reflection of God's mercy?

  17. Laurie,
    That's good! Everyone is longing for the happy ending (the REAL one, with Christ) whether they realize it or not. Explains the popularity of romantic fiction among women and superhero action adventure among men!


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