It is fascinating to me how easy it is to rope ourselves into believing that if we just had this one more thing, this one little step further, we would be satisfied. Everything would be contented in our hearts, finally, and we could actually begin living now and enjoying it. That we would finally feel “Whole,” whatever that’s supposed to mean, and everything would fall into place.
Whether it’s that one job or getting married or having a kid or finally feeling financially stable or traveling or fame or fill in the blank because everyone has a few things on their list that we whole heartedly believe “If I could just have… then…”
It seems to be innately ingrained into our psyche—just this one more thing, and then my life will be enough, I will be enough, and everyone around me will see that I am enough.
And we strive and we gain and we achieve some of those things and seasons we have been looking toward for as long as we can remember, and they do absolutely nothing to fulfill our desires but for a moment, and then it is back to the same rhythm of “just this one more thing…” And it turns out all the rushing for and striving and sacrifice did not fulfill what we wanted it to.
Now, none of this is to say marriage or traveling or even fame well stewarded is bad, but it is to say none of those things will ever live up to the fulfillment expectations we may place on them in the long term of looking for and desiring them.
All of these things, and people with these things that we desire, seem to be filled with joy and hope and fulfillment—a façade growing ever more convincing by the show of social media and layers of editing to everything.
But what it seems we have failed to learn is that these “just one more” things are not our ultimate desire, and so how could anything that is not within the ability to fulfill that ultimate desire satisfy us?
“Most people, if they really learned to look into their own hearts, would know they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)
If our real, entire, heart desire was to have a child, then having a child really would fulfill us because our expectations would be more accurately aligned with what it means to have a child and take care of another human being. However, we never enter into the attempted fulfillment of our desires without expectations.
This is often best exemplified in the desire for a significant other because that desire is often accompanied with the expectations of total satisfaction, unbelievable fulfillment and no lack of want, which is absolutely ridiculous because no person can ever engage those needs in the way we desire. It’s the “never quite” of the world’s promises that Lewis refers to in this regard—we have our expectations and desires and even the thing we believe to be the culminative fulfillment, and it is disappointing.
It is disappointing because that is not the true root of our desire. Nothing can fulfill the desire because we are not in a place with the capacity to do so. As long as we live, we will have desires that cannot be satisfied, and that is okay because there is something coming that most certainly can and will fulfill everything. For now, though we must hold on to the Hope that has come—the Promised One Who can settle into us the expectation of Glory and Final Fulfillment in Himself, an expectation that will not fall short or fail or be disappointing.
And here we sit in the Now and Not Yet of Kingdom Glory and Fulfillment that is Not Yet fully fulfilled and Now stands in full engagement with all people who have come to the foot of the cross. This tension finds us cut and bruised at all the bandaging we have tried to do in fulfilling our own desires with things the world provides.
And we have expected Heaven’s desires themselves to be fulfilled by what the world can offer.
The world can never fulfill Heaven. This is the never quite of the world’s promises—a taste, maybe, of something really good and with a hint of the Divine, but never quite able to quench the earnestness of our distressed desire.
Our angst of desire and fulfillment is not meant to be calmed or quieted by the world because it is in this unsettledness we realize there is a higher calling that is not fulfilled by anything Now. The Now and the Not Yet must sit in tension, realizing and realizing again that we are to wait in faithful pursuit of the Heavenly. This desire, sitting always in the back of our hearts and minds, is waiting for something much higher than fame or money or romance and is seeded there to awaken us to the More of God. To the unquenchable thirst for what is Of Him and Who He Is.
For this is the Promise: That He fulfills all His Promises. And if we have been so naturally set with this desire that cannot be fulfilled by the world, how much of a wonderful reminder it can be to know He will One Day gather us together for the Forever that this Desire was designed for.