It has been a lifelong theme, for me.
A yearning for “good ol’ days”. An attraction to happy endings. A steady heartbeat of longing for things that cannot be found where we are, no matter where we go.
This world is a hauntingly beautiful song that is being played on a slightly off-tune instrument. One side of it is so lovely that it brings me to my knees in praise and amazement and the other side splits my eardrums in two, tempting me to claw at the dirt in a desperation for escape.
Relics from Eden abound. In love stories. In the laughter of children. In nature. In acts of kindness and self-sacrifice.
But the strains of discord ever threaten, and ruinous vines entangle what should have been perfect. Divorce and adultery shatter families. Children become victims. God’s handiwork is decimated and cluttered by our filth.
And isn’t this why we love good books, inspiring movies, and fairytales? Any story, really, that will carry us away from the reality we try so desperately to ignore?
Craving wells up and reverberates through shed tears as we survey all the tales that should have been fact, tales of redemption, of true love, of peace, of hope. In those pages and on those screens, our broken and searching hearts whisper that “yes! This is what life is supposed to be like! Shouldn’t love last forever? Shouldn’t men should choose to do good, even when it is hard? Cannot even the vilest offender be redeemed and spend his life in beauty??”
And, fueled by the ache within, we labor our lives away, attempting to craft fairytales with our own hands and by our own means.
We pursue love, dreaming with stars in our eyes of how that man or woman will fulfill us and make life the song that we’ve been trying to write since we could pick up a pen.
We pursue a life of comfort, with a couple of healthy kids and a cozy house with all the trimmings.
We pursue fame, attempting to fill up the burning of our hearts with more recognition, more ‘likes’, more followers.
The options for soul satiation are so shiny when they are still on the shelf.
And so we choose an available portion with glittering eyes, greedy with hope that this will be the solution that will finally tame our hunger.
We pick up a spoon, we dig in and we feast with passion…
but as we chew on life, the realization soon settles that every single dish we have chosen to fill up our soul was nothing more than a heap of dry ashes masquerading as fulfillment.
We begin to choke on them.
We can’t swallow.
We drown in a rush of bitterness and disappointment that life, once more, has let us miserably down.
Try as we might, there is just no dodging the truth that every single fairytale this world has to offer is a phony, an illusion that, once tasted, loses its luster and dissolves into dust.
Except, that is, for one.
A mother and father traveled far from their home, and in a borrowed stable, a baby boy was born. They bundled Him up like parents do, but contained in the flesh of His humanity beat the very heart of God.
He lived a perfect life, fully God, but in a body that was fully man. He loved. He had friends. He lost friends. He witnessed death, seeing and feeling the sting that haunts the human race. The wretched sting that haunts us today. And, like us, He wept, tasting the salt of human tears that sprang forth from a heart that felt real human pain.
He was Emmanuel, God in the flesh, and everything He touched was made beautiful. Lame were healed, blind were given sight, sinners were redeemed, and His perfect words of truth and wisdom sliced through the veil that had shrouded centuries.
Bur three years into His public ministry, the time arrived for Him to fulfill what He had come to earth to do. The fall of man needed to be paid for, and He, in the greatest act of love the world has ever known, was going to provide the sacrifice.
His body groaned the night before His crucifixion, and His spirit was violently tested as He submitted to the will of the Father. But still He marched, resolutely, surrendering himself to his enemies and to the cross of a criminal. He was nailed up and tortured, and in unspeakable pain and suffering, He willingly took every last trace of mankind’s punishment as His own…
even as mankind spat upon the gift.
And all those things that plague us? The tragedies, the disappointments, the addictions and the brokenness that leave us raw with pain and longing?
He defeated them on our behalf, annihilating each and every one with a passion that made the earth quake in reverence.
And then He was no more. The debt had been paid in full, His spirit was given up, and His dead, limp body was carried away as His mother and His friends mourned in despair that the Light of the World had been snuffed out.
They buried Him in a borrowed tomb and the next three days were filled with unimaginable darkness. Darkness of soul. Darkness of grief. Darkness of doubt. Yet another fairytale had been dangled before human eyes, only to end in utter disappointment and loss.
But just this one time…
a happy ending was coming…
and it was going to change the world.
The fairytale came true.
In the exact miracle that He and the prophets of old foretold, three days later, Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
Hundreds of witnesses saw Him, talked with Him, touched Him, and a hunkered down and mournful Church rose up, bold and fearless, in belief. They had seen this man die, and now, He was in front of them, the wounds in His hands and side to prove it.
He remained among them for forty days, teaching and ministering, before ascending into heaven where He is preparing a place for all those who believe on His name, even those of us who have yet to see Him with our own eyes.
And in a day that is coming soon, oh glorious day…
He will return to this fallen and disappointing world and He will make all things new for those who put their trust in Him.
Love will become true and eternal, children will be safe, creation will shine in all of its intended glory, and all of those stories that we wish could be REAL, those glimpses of Eden that are so beautiful that they bring us pain…
They will be an every-day, every minute reality, as natural to us as our fears are today. The craving will be satiated. The ache will disappear. The emptiness will be filled up and forgotten.
And all the wrongs will be made right.
Our souls will finally rest.
My heart is irresistibly compelled to believe and to proclaim it, that Jesus Christ is the fairytale we’ve been hunting, the love that will remain, the comfort that is forever, the hope for today, tomorrow and eternity…
but He is no fairytale.
He is real.