Not every story gets a happy ending.
After 8 years and nearly 200 episodes, I’m worried “The Office” will become one of those stories.
After dismissing the show when it first premiered as yet another soulless remake of a British series, I fell in love with the Dunder Mifflin drones through DVD marathons of the first 3 seasons.
My friends and I watched and rewatched Jim’s slow and subtle courtship of Pam, Michael’s tasteless jokes, and Dwight’s beet-loving eccentricities over beach trips and long afternoons when we should have been studying instead.
Now with the finale airing tonight on at 8 PM on NBC, “The Office” comes to the end of its story. For diehard fans, this comes with disappointment and with relief.
The disappointment is the same that comes with the end of any tv show which has become part of your life for a decade. The relief is that the show will no longer be doing any damage to its legacy.
Most fans would agree the past two seasons of “The Office” have been less than spectacular. At points after Steve Carrell’s absence the aging sitcom has been soulless and cold, unrecognizable from the show we fell in love with.
Is this how we will remember “The Office”? Will the greatness of “Casino Night” and “Benihana Christmas” and “Niagra” be washed away by the insipid episodes of the Andy-Erin-Plop saga?
Sometimes this happens in life. Sometimes all the great works a person does are erased by one mistake.
Remember Jason Russell, the founder of Invisible Children and the brain behind the Kony 2012 campaign? Russell did incredible work speaking out for abused children and making their plight known to the world.
Then one night he went crazy, running and screaming naked in a busy intersection.
The incredible work Jason did for years is now a footnote in the bigger story of his mistake.
Think of the rich man from Luke 16. What kind of life did he live before his finale? Obviously he was wealthy and successful, but did he ever do charitable work? Was he God-fearing in any way?
There’s no way to know for sure because all we remember him for is the end of his story. We know this man only because he ignored Lazarus in their dying moments. One choice made all the difference in his life (and afterlife).
Over the series run of our lives, there are plenty of imperfect episodes. Thankfully we have a God who goes on rescue missions. Our stories can be rewritten in an instant.
Take the criminal hanging on the cross next to Jesus. The hard road he walked led him to the death penalty, but it also stood him next to the throne of grace. With one sentence his past was erased and he was granted forgiveness.
Or think of David, the man after God’s own heart who consistently wrecked the lives of those around him. He lied, cheated, and murdered his way to the crown. But his broken heart brought him back to God after each mistake, seeking a second (and 92nd) chance.
I’m cautiously optimistic for “The Office” finale. The past few weeks are evidence the show I once loved can return to form. I hope the 200th piece of the puzzle can connect everything together.
If “The Office” sticks the landing tonight, it will present a wonderful redemption story, one we can all learn from. No matter how great our history is, one stumble can lead us off track for all eternity. But no matter how far gone we are, we have never fallen too far from God’s grace to turn things around.
Guess what? I have flaws. What are they? Oh, I don’t know, I sing in the shower? Sometimes I spend too much time volunteering? Occasionally I’ll hit somebody with my car? So sue me. No, don’t sue me. That is opposite the point I’m trying to make. – Michael Scott
What has “The Office” meant to you over the past 8 years? What will you remember it for? What do you hope to be remembered for? How has God’s grace turned your story around?