light in the dark by emiliokuffer
light in the dark, a photo by emiliokuffer on Flickr.

It’s hard to write a powerful ending to an already beautiful book. So much has been built up, so much has happened, so much has been said, taught and learned. How do you end something beautiful?

My favorite ending in all of literature is that of A Tale of Two Cities (it’s quite a popular one). The entire book is wonderful, the writing skilled, the story twisting, as all of Charles Dicken’s book do. But, it is not until the final pages that the story and the protagonist, Sydney Carton, take on a supernal feel.

Sydney Carton, a flawed, sloven, selfish alcoholic waits in line for his turn to be beheaded by the guillotine. Not for any crime of his own but to purposely die in the place of the man he most hates, Charles Darnay. Darnay who looks almost identical to Carton but who in every other way is nothing like him. He reminds Sydney Carton of who he could have been. Darnay, a mocking reflection of a failed life who is able to capture the heart of the one person that Sydney Carton loves. I believe to truly appreciate Carton’s sacrifice, you have to read the book. As you follow him through the story you see how imperfect and hateful he is and because of this, the ending is all the more beautiful. He goes to his death for someone he hates, to bless the life of someone he loves.

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.

I could read the last few pages of this book over and over again and never tire of them.

I love when a hero dies. It is so moving. The ultimate sacrifice. My friends tease me, finding it morbid and incomprehensible. But . . . my standard for a hero is very high. I expect perfection and a willingness to do anything for those a hero loves. And this is why:

John 15: 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Now let’s examine another story (and examine it as just a story at this pointnothing more) that is connected to that of Sydney Carton’s. The Son of God (much like those in Greek mythology) comes to earth to teach us how to be happy. He is loved and hated. He takes upon Himself all of the pain and sadness of every person who has ever or will ever live, even for those who do not believe in Him, even for those who would revile and abuse Him. He does it because of love. Perfect love. He doesn’t have to, He choses to. And then He rises again, conquerer of death.

Whether you are a believer or not, the story of Jesus Christ, His birth, His life, His death and His resurrection, is amazing. It has depth, heroism and a happy ending.

John 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live

I, for one, am a believer. And He is the standard for all of my heroes. Merry Christmas.