Something you may have seen in the news lately is the uproar over the end of the video game Mass Effect. A series about a small group of soldiers, scientists, and doctors facing a galaxy-wide crisis, this was about a team overcoming impossible odds to save the day time and again. This sounds like your run-of-the-mill video game. You’re almost always the hero. You almost always face a world shattering crisis. You almost always save the day. While I won’t go into spoilers about the end of the series that has caused so much drama, the argument over it has sparked an interesting thought. Is a story more about the journey than the destination as we’re sometimes told? And why do stories like these impact us so much in the first place?
I’ll start with the first question. I’m sure most if not all of you have heard the phrase, “It’s about the journey, not the destination.” Oftentimes this is when a story or a real life adventure ends on a note that seems somewhat unsatisfying when the rest of the tale was full of excitement and romance. Those people furious at the Mass Effect ending were quickly assaulted by attempts to placate them by well meaning citizens of the Internet working tirelessly to remind them of the good times they’d had.
“Remember fighting Sovereign at the Citadel in the first game? That was awesome right?” “What about that suicide mission that the whole galaxy said you’d never see the other side of? You saved not just yourself but your whole crew!” We long to look back on the journey fondly to ease the pain of an ending that is so unsatisfactory.
Why then does this feel like an empty attempt to placate? Why does it feel like the end should be satisfying? Obviously it didn’t meet expectations, so there must have been some idea in our minds of what the end of the story should have looked like. Stories, we seem to feel, should end well. This innate desire to see a story wrapped up in a way that does not merely provide closure, but also gives us the feeling that those involved have managed to triumph, seems to beg the author to give us some hope of a happy ending. There’s a reason we long for that happy ending. A reason we find stories that end poorly to be unsatisfying.
You see, our Creator, God Himself, The Great I Am, created us with a purpose. We were built to live out a story where not just the journey of day to day life, but the end result of our being was to bring Him glory and praise. We would have intimate contact with the source of all goodness and pureness and rightness in the universe. Our stories were meant to be good ones. When we read or play or watch the tales we spin today we long to see that initial creation restored. We want love to prevail. We want good to triumph over evil. We want the helpless and broken-hearted redeemed. The reason we want our destination to be just as satisfying as the journey is because we know somewhere down deep that there is a destination worth reaching. God has placed the desire for Him in our hearts, and the best part is we can journey with Him to a redeemed world once again through the blood of Jesus Christ.
As you go forth this weekend celebrating a risen Lord and Redeemer, remember that Christ died so that we might join him on the journey to redeem the Earth and all that is in it. We are allowed the privilege of seeing a people redeemed. The thing it took to break the cycle of hopeless endings was the Son of God on a cross and a stone rolled away. How glorious to know that our God didn’t just redeem our stories… He is redeeming our destination, and that’s why we want a happy ending. We have a God who died and rose to give us one.
While that might seem an odd leap to make from a simple bit of bickering about the end of a video game, I think it’s important that we dive deeper than our mere feeling of dissatisfaction. We must seek out the underlying meaning to why we feel a story should end well. We long for our own lives to mean something, so when we feel worthless or uninteresting we turn to entertainment to provide that release. Time and again we come away unsatisfied, but those that do seem to satisfy, the stories that Samwise Gamgee would claim “really matter”, point us back to a Creator and a Savior who gave us life for something better. And that’s something to get excited about.