We’re Eager to Know What’s Going to Happen Next
A cliffhanger is a plot used in fiction which features a precarious or difficult dilemma or a shocking revelation at the end of an episode. A cliffhanger is hoped to incentivize the audience to return to see how the characters resolve the dilemma.
Cliffhangers became prominent with the serial publication of narrative fiction, pioneered by Charles Dickens. Printed episodically in magazines, Dickens’s cliffhangers triggered desperation in his readers. This was evident in the anticipation of those waiting for the next installment of Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop. A story about a thirteen-year-old orphan named Nell Trent, living with her grandfather.
In 1841, Dickens fans rioted on the dock of New York Harbor, as they waited for a British ship carrying the next installment, screaming, “Is little Nell dead?”
Dickens’ installment format and cliffhangers would typically culminate at a point in the plot that created reader anticipation and thus reader demand.
The popularity of Dickens’s serial publications saw the cliffhanger become a staple part of the “sensation serials” by the 1860s. The DNA of Dickens’s busy, episodic storytelling, delivered in installments and rife with cliffhangers and diversions, is traceable in everything.
The apostles were living out a cliffhanger in Act 1:6-14. They ask Jesus. “Are You now going to give Israel its own king again?”
He answered them, “You don’t need to know the time of those events that only the Father controls.” After Jesus had said this and while they were watching, He was taken up into a cloud.
Can you say cliffhanger?
They were wanting to know what was going to happen next, and Jesus left them standing there wondering. Then two men dressed in white clothes were suddenly standing there beside them. They asked, “Why are standing here looking up into the sky? Jesus has been taken to heaven. He will come back the same way.”
You know the apostles were sitting on the edge of their seats wondering when, how, why.
Cliffhangers in fictional stories can be exciting and stressful, but ultimately, we know that they are just a story. The writer of the story can keep us guessing and anticipating what’s going to happen next. The author can take us where they want us to go.
In our real-life story, cliffhanger levels of excitement and stress are ramped up. There are real trials and consequences in this story. This unknown can be pretty scary. We just want to know what’s going to happen next and that everything is going to be alright.
Sure, our life stories have drama and cliffhangers, but the Author will write a good story if we just let Him. In verse 8 Jesus tells the apostles, “The Holy Spirt will come upon you and give you power.”
We have the power to choose who writes our story. Let God write your story.
If we will let God write our stories, then the cliffhangers become a driving force to move forward to the next episode of our lives.
Enjoy your cliffhanger!