How many hearts hold on to that which is fleeting? How many souls long for more? A taste of the completeness that is right, a scent of the fulfillment that is whole. A remembrance of something beautiful we have barely known, hints of the image of God impressed in our being.
We meet the fleeting perfection we were created in, and it overwhelms us. It is comprehended and felt for only shadowy seconds because we cannot sustain what is most desired and natural to our creation. All of our efforts fail in our short lifespans to become as we once were: whole. We glimpse our magnificent selves in this wretched drama, and it is too much to bear.
We face denial at both ends of the spectrum. We convince ourselves that we are not included in the beautiful, that we are dirty, wretched animals that are sealed in a fate of evil and pain. After all, nothing that we touch can endure. On the other hand, we argue that the objectively beautiful is wrong and that an outside declaration and almighty decree cannot dictate what we should love. Instead, we convince ourselves that our momentary gauge must govern what is good. We grasp at one end of the rope, making excuses for the unattainable wholeness that eludes us.
Vice rebels. Anger and pleasure attempt to sustain what is complete and beautiful. We become tired of the rules and desire to pull satisfaction close, to touch and taste. Not inherently evil, the desire for love, rest, righteousness, and satisfaction stirs our hearts and minds as it should. But overreaching our temporal boundaries, vice dangerously flirts with the eternal. When we attempt to prolong the immediate sensation, our ecstasy grows into a tangible addiction. An intuitive expression of fleeting beauty becomes vice when boldly walking the line of destruction.
Who are we if neither vice nor virtue will make us whole?
Virtue forgets. Quiet restraint attempts to murder what is complete and beautiful. We build walls of separation, construct legal systems of guilt and punishment, and broker one-sided deals with an angry God. We chastise ourselves for loving the whole of who we were made to be and villainize created desires and enjoyment because we cannot expect them last. In turn, we highlight pain to pay for the righteousness we were made to crave.
Who are we if neither vice nor virtue will make us whole? What do we do in this life when we finally understand that all the good, all the beautiful, every moment of satisfaction, will pass? How can we appreciate what has been given to us completely, but that we are not completely able to enjoy? A solemn sadness then settles, knowing that I have been created to be whole, and I cannot be in this life. The vicious cycle of depression over vice and virtue spins along.
One morning, we may wake up, hear, and accept the contradiction before our eyes. That which was made to be whole, complete, satisfied, beautiful, fulfilled, and loved has already been restored to wholeness by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. By means other than our denial, anger, and bargains, we were declared to be whole on account of his whole offering to our Father in heaven. Even though we don’t feel complete, even though we don’t yet see that it’s all right, the contradiction is true. Broken and whole. Incomplete and complete. Lacking and full. Fleeting and Eternal.
Because a resurrected reality has already been reconstructed, today, we have been freed to enjoy the beautiful.
We take comfort that our desire for the eternal whole is not wrong. Our craving for tangible satisfaction is not bad. It is imprinted deep within who we have been created to be. But on this fleeting earth, in this death-ridden life, wholeness will only reveal itself momentarily and in pieces. Shadows of who we were made and are restored to be a glimmer in the most enjoyable moments, which will come to an end. Honorable heart-racing passion will be wrapped up in broken-soul pain throughout this lifetime.
But because we are now and forever whole, because of the now and forever sacrifice of Christ, there is no need to fear that which is fleeting.Because a resurrected reality has already been reconstructed, today, we have been freed to enjoy the beautiful. Even though our todays and passing moments will certainly end, we have been assured that our created and restored completeness is sure to endure.