Monday, May 15, 2006

The End of the Beginning

One of my favorite kid books is a book by Avi called "The End of the Beginning." If you haven't read it, you need to. But if you haven't read the Phantom Tollbooth, read that one first. They're similar, but Phantom Tollbooth is better. Back to the other book which is the one I actually wanted to write about--It's the story of an ant and a snail and their journey from the beginning to the end, or rather from the end to the beginning.

The two adventurers were going along. Avon was singing.
"Stop!" cried Edward. "We've reached the end of the branch."
With great care the two creatures edged to the very tip.
"The end of the branch," said Avon.
"The beginning of the sky," said Edward.
"Which is it?" asked Avon. "The beginning or the end?"
"It depends what there is more of, the tree or the sky. Think of all the things that get in your way along the branch--leaves, bark, other creatures, a million things to slow you down. Now look at the sky."
Avon looked. "There's nothing there."
"Exactly. Which means it will take longer to climb the branch. And if it takes longer, the branch must be bigger. And if the branch is bigger than the sky, that means we're at the sky's end, but only at the beginning of the branch."
"You mean," asked Avon, quite amazed, "that after all this time, we're just beginning? I had no idea how far you have to go before you can start. Almost makes me want to stop."
"You can't do that either," said Edward severely.
"Why?"
"Can't very well stop if you haven't started, can you?"
"Edward," cried Avon. "I never knew how important it was to start before you begin."
And turning around, they began.

("The End of the Beginning" by Avi)

Bear with me—how many times have I thought I was at the end, when in fact it was only the beginning? The end of high school, the start of college. The end of college, the start of the rest of my life. The end of a semester, the start of the summer. I could go on, but that’s only the surface of what I’m trying to get at.

When God brings us to the end of ourselves, it is the beginning of His work. And what hope! “That He which hath begun a good work will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

My work, futile as it is, stops where His begins, and His work is perfect. He will not leave the job half finished. He will not cut corners or neglect details. He is thorough, going beyond every expectation. When I have drained all of my resources, if I have not yet tapped into His, I have not yet begun. At the end of my weakness is the start of His strength. When I come to the end of myself, I have at last begun to see what He can and will do in His power alone.

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