Love story – “happily ever after”

“And they all lived happily ever after…”

The majority of stories and the majority of films finish with a happy ending. Some form of adversity is overcome and better times are ahead. When they don’t end this way it can be disturbing – perhaps we even feel a little cheated. We expect things to end well, so when they don’t, the story shocks us and leaves us uncomfortable.

Why do we tell ourselves these “happily ever after” stories? We seem to feel instinctively that obstacles are meant to be overcome. Life is meant to be good and not full of hardship and struggles. Somehow, everything is moving towards what it should be, despite the blips along the way.

Broadly speaking, this echoes the message of the Bible. We have stories with terrible tragedies, loss, trouble, war, death and all the difficult and nasty aspects of life in our world. But, underlying it all, looking beyond it all is the expectation that one day there will be a grand “happily ever after” for the whole world.

So, what is this “happily ever after” that we are looking forward to? Various parts of the Bible portray it in terms of cosmic renewal – like a new creation. It is something that follows judgement and is to last forever. But, what will it look like?

We might want to be given a precise account of what the future life after resurrection will hold, but we don’t get one. The pictures of peace and prosperity are painted using imagery familiar to those of the ancient world – almost an idealised version of what their life looked like. Not surprisingly, when we start guessing we also portray an idealised version of our own life now.

Impressionist Sunrise over the Sea


The picture of “heaven” is blurry – it doesn’t offer a clear view, but just a teaser. It entices us, but not enough is revealed for us to be sure how things will be. There seems to be something more important at stake than describing a renewed physical world; heaven is more important than this, it seems. So, what is at the heart of it all?

Behind the lack of detail of the place where we will be, what we will look like and do, etc. is a more fundamental “happily ever after”, which is at the core of all our future hope. At the heart of all of this,  what matters most, what we are most looking forward to is not just a new world order; we are waiting for a person. We wait for God. We yearn for God. That is what salvation is really all about – not just a pretty, peaceful world, but being with our God.

The restlessness of every human heart will be met when we are with God, when our Saviour comes to us. We don’t just trust in God so that we can enjoy certain gifts, we trust because we want to enjoy the presence of the Giver Himself.

In many films and books we find powerful love stories where two people overcome adversity in order to be together. Perhaps the setting may be a war, where one of them has had to go overseas. They are kept apart, given only fleeting reminders through the letters they send.

The lovers wait, they yearn for one another. They want to be together again, but will they both make it? Through twists and turns the story takes them, temptations to give up arise along the way – possible new loves come and go. They hold fast, trusting that in the end they will live together happily ever after. In a way, the final destination, the final place where they are to live isn’t really important. Their love is what matters.

Could this be your story? Could this be our story – the story of God and His people? Could this be the ultimate love story? If so, we can look forward without fear, knowing that we will live happily ever after, knowing that in many ways the place and details are immaterial.

© Joe Lenton, January 2014 – image © Original Art Photography by Joe Lenton, 2013

On Broken Wings

Damaged Peacock Butterfly

“Damaged goods”, “shop soiled”, “incomplete item” – these are all phrases that speak negatively of things, suggesting that most will now pass them by and their value has been reduced. Sadly, “damaged goods” and other such phrases might even be used pejoratively and selectively by a few to describe certain types of people. Are they of lesser value and to be passed by?

Many might refuse to buy anything that isn’t perfect. However, there are some who perhaps relish the challenge of taking a slightly damaged item and making it whole again, seeing its potential despite the surface appearance. Yes, this demands more work, but the end result brings satisfaction.

How do we view those on the edges of society, whether they be racial minorities, “disabled” people, the homeless, poor or others? Do we think that only they are damaged or that they are to be passed by? The truth is that all of us are in some way “damaged”. We are not perfect. The question is, can we see the potential, the latent beauty in each other as well as the scars and wounds? Are we aware of our own brokenness?

The damaged peacock butterfly above still retains much of its beauty. It can still fly, but it must do so on broken wings. Some of us might learn ways of hiding our scars, others wear them clearly visible, perhaps with no choice but for others to see our weaknesses. Sometimes we receive new wounds, new weaknesses that mean we must once again learn to fly, this time with even weaker wings than before.

God doesn’t pass any of us by, no matter how “damaged” we might be. None are left on the shelf, too far beyond repair. God in His love relishes the challenge of rebuilding us, making us whole and bringing out that latent potential and inner beauty. Our broken wings will one day be restored so that we can truly fly as we were meant to.

Yet, God does not just expect to be left to do the healing work all on His own. We can be channels of healing for others, bringing them off the shelf to God rather than waiting for Him to go to them. We can choose to believe that these damaged souls can still fly, albeit on broken wings for the time being. We can choose to stop and see their beauty and potential. Nobody should be passed over. After all, God has chosen to take care of us and we are no less damaged and in need of repair than anyone else.

© Joe Lenton, September 2013

Responding to Creation

Bodensee PrayerDo you feel a connection with God through nature? Does creation move you to prayer or praise?

Throughout history, many people have found a sense of God’s presence when they look upon the beauty of nature. It is something that can evoke profound emotions and some find it easier to connect with and praise God out in nature than they do in church.

There are various Psalms that praise God as creator and it is not unlikely that the writer would have been either looking at or thinking about the wonders of the world around them at the time. For example, Psalm 8 looks out at the vastness of the skies and the stars in space, whilst Psalm 148 calls upon all of creation to point to their creator in praise.

In the book of Romans, Paul says that creation reveals something of God’s character and power if only we have eyes to see it. God’s fingerprints, so to speak, are all over what God has made.

Some Celtic Christians found certain beauty spots to be so conducive to praise and meeting with God that they labelled them “thin places” – where the boundary between earth and heaven seems “thinner” than elsewhere.

The prayer in the image above is in German and it is placed at a point where people can look out over the Bodensee (lake of Constance). It is a prayer that has sprung out of someone’s heart in response to the beauty of that lake. They recognised God as the One who not only made it, but who also sustains it.

Is this a tradition of Christian spirituality that you relate to? When was the last time you felt close to God through nature?

Perhaps at times we are so busy driving or walking to where we want to go that we don’t take in what is all around us. Over the next few days, why not take just a few minutes to sit and take in something of God’s creation? Perhaps watch a sunset or look closely at some flowers. Maybe you will find that your soul will also sing “how great Thou art” along with the hymn-writer (Stuart Hine) as you gaze upon what God has made.

© Joe Lenton, August 2013

Image © Original Art Photography By Joe Lenton 2013 –


Need a change of perspective?

Giant PebblePerspective changes things. From one angle something can seem small and insignificant. From another, it can appear large or even dominant. A small pebble on a beach can appear to be a large boulder, with the distant sea now merely a backdrop.

We have a great deal of choice about how we look at things. We can skip over the details and take in the wider picture, or we can get in close and examine the tiniest speck. Changing perspective means we have to do something about it – we need to move.

This can also be true about how we “see” things in our lives. Our current perspective will cause some things, whether they are events, people, ideas or something else, to look either larger or smaller. Their apparent importance and impact may vary depending on how we are looking at things at the time.

A shift of perspective might enable us to realise that we’ve been caught up too much in the details, or maybe we’re so obsessed with the big picture that we can’t see the small things any longer. Either way, a change of perspective might help us to appreciate differently the balance of elements in our life.

Faith in and the desire to follow Jesus helps bring about new possibilities for shifting our perspective and seeing life in new ways. Looking at things (as far as it is possible) from God’s point of view can open our eyes to a whole new set of priorities. Some things increase in size and importance, whilst others diminish.

What seems important or “big” in your life right now? Is there anything you may have lost sight of? Have you tried moving, changing your perspective? Through prayer and openness to the Spirit, we can learn to see in new ways.

© Joe Lenton, July 2013

Image: “Giant Pebble” © Original Art Photography By Joe Lenton, 2013 – available to purchase as a print. Part of the gallery on