“ A brother is to help you.”
At least according to Ruth Krauss’s brilliant, timeless children’s book A Hole is to Dig.
(Go buy it. Every household needs a copy, now more than ever.)
A brother is also to fill the gaps in your library.
I might be the resident English degree-holder. But I am far from having it all figured out when it comes to literature. And this past week was another reminder of that.
Aaron read Ender’s Game almost 10 years ago when he was in 8th grade. Back when I was still lazing around in never-meant-to-be dreams of medical school. He read it and loved it for all the right reasons and never told me about it because I had a misplaced distaste for science fiction.
That was then. This is now.
I have everything good in the world to say about Ender. Goodness…start anywhere…the unlikely hero whose character development is both sublime and believable, the setting which lacks and therefore makes the reader long for familiarity, the plot that unfolds to support Ender even while destroying him…
But here I focus on the one that makes me thrill. The reason I found my face glued to the pages of this little paperback late into the night.
The major question of the book is “why?” (I won’t put spoilers here…)
And the answer is “Love.”
The narrative pushes the question until the answer is so obvious the reader is almost certain to miss it in the chaos of the final chapters. Ender is love-motivated. It is what makes him different far beyond his intellect and leadership qualities. Different from his brother and from the other soldiers at the battle school.
From the fire of that answer rises a new, deeper question then.
Ender loves. So what will it cost him?
I would argue that this is why we read a lot of fiction. We know, more or less, the outcome of many stories. It won’t take too much to figure out who deserves justice and that it will all come out right in the end no matter the odds. But it’s those very odds that heighten the value of the story. Yes. It will all come out right in the end. But what will it cost?
This is also the story of the Bible. The true story of God’s love for humans.
Adam and Eve were put into this perfect world to be the keepers and to bear the Image of the Holy God. But their sin ushered in death. Still evident today are the obvious glimpses of brokenness with beauty shining through. Hidden by the evil. But still there. Because everything is ruined, but God has a plan for making it all good again, in spite of the rebellion of his Image Bearers.
Isn’t it amazing? We know, for certain, the end of the story. It is written down for us. Though there are some details that we don’t understand fully, we know the basic outline of what’s going to go on. King Jesus gets His inheritance. The world returns to its submitted place under the rightful Ruler. Peace and justice will reign again. Everything returned to Edenic beauty and harmony. In other words, everything comes out right in the end. Evil vanquished. Good restored.
The question to answer then is what is the cost?
I wish I had you here with a Bible and a red pen. We could go through together and mark the countless places where the first part of the Bible foretells what the cost would be. Genesis 3:15. The serpent will be crushed and darkness will be obliterated by light! But the One who comes to do it will have a bruised heel. The Promised One will come and suffer and “by His wounds we are healed.” (Is.53) Then we could read the gospel accounts of the cross. The blood. The betrayal. The horror. God turns His back on His own Son. The punishment for sin is death. And Jesus accepts it. In place of every sinner. The curtain of the temple is torn from top to bottom. It is finished! Then turn to Paul’s writings. Peter and John, too. They look back at what it was. They have a new understanding of love. “This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10. And they also give their lives out of love for “Him who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.”
This is what it cost Him.