Walking in the door after a long day, Sara slowly made her way to the family room. She had so many things to accomplish, but all she could do right now was plop on the couch. Exhausted from morning battles, Sara leaned over, tucked a pillow beneath her cheek and curled into a ball. Images of her life begin to roll through her mind like a silent film reel.
“Today was hard,” she thought. Daily disputes with kids, never ending chores and the disenchantment in her marriage seemed to be poking bigger holes in the reservoirs of hope that often buoyed her back up. Thinking ahead to the future didn’t help either. The horizon seemed to reveal more of the same. For the first time, the weight of her tightly held yet unmet desires became palpable. Overcome with grief, tears streamed down her cheeks as she whimpered aloud, “This isn’t what I hoped for.”
Sarah hadn’t even realized she’d fallen into a deep slumber until she was suddenly awakened by the obnoxious ringtone her kids had secretly programmed into her phone. Relieved to have been temporarily rescued from the colorless tunnel she’d entered, she instantly altered her disposition and cheerily greeted the caller. After listening intently, Sara fretfully responded, “Yes, of course. I’m on my way.”
We don’t really need to know what happens next because Sara’s story mirrors our own in many ways. Like hers, many of the dramatic twists and turns, the delights and disappointments still remain untold. And, even though her tale and our may contain very different details, beneath it all, the ultimate desires of our hearts are really quite similar. We all want the majestic pieces of life on earth to endure forever and hope we can avoid or stave off the unexpected yet inevitable betrayals of this world. All the while, our hearts know too well that even the pinnacle moments will not last nor will they ever fully gratify the longings that live there.
Master novelist and theologian C.S. Lewis captures this truth better than anyone in his book The Weight of Glory when he wrote,
The books or the music [or marriage or family] in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.
The peaks in our earthly stories are only scents and echoes of something we have not yet encountered. And, the valleys? These are meant to awaken our desire for the denouement, that perfect ending we are desperately hoping for. This is written on our hearts so that we can recognize how our personal story exists within a greater and far grander narrative – a magnificent and matchless tale that promises us enduring peace and beauty without betrayal.
This story began with Chapter One – CREATION – when God designed a perfect place for His glory and for human flourishing. This peaceful era was followed by Chapter Two – FALL –when man rebelled and rejected God’s rule and authority. These actions not only tainted a perfect story, they brought death, destruction and separation from God to mankind. Thankfully, the loving and merciful Author of the story continued to write on. In Chapter Three – REDEMPTION – He revealed His Master plan by sending His Son Jesus to earth to rescue and redeem His children. As we now celebrate the birth of Jesus into a world that was desperately lost without Him, we can rejoice that the redemption offered to those who believe was only the beginning of the end. We are given a sneak peek of the Final Chapter – RESTORATION – when Christ will again return to earth. At that time, the world will be completely purged of evil and peace will prevail as He reigns and resides with His children. In that country we have not yet see God, “will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain [because] all these things are gone forever.” (Rev. 21:4, NLT)
Sarah’s story, my story and your story are pages in the middle of THE greatest story. It is the one that our heart dreams about yet promises to be far better than anything we could imagine. Though we cannot see it now, we can rejoice knowing that all of His children will, indeed, gasp with delight over the very splendid ending to tHIS story.