Whenever we visited my grandparents, we’d pass a certain motel and my younger brother would plead to stay there. Problem was, we’d either sleep at my grandparents’ house or we wouldn’t stay overnight at all. This left my brother longing for the motel. I have to admit, the longing seemed justified because the motel was built like a fort. It had high wooden walls with lookouts that set a boy’s imagination spinning. You could easily imagine yourself saving the day, or being an outlaw, at a motel like this.
Eventually my brother won out and we checked into the motel. We were sure that every room came with a horse and a saddle and a gun. And you probably washed your face in a feeding trough and slept on a pile of hay. And they told you to avoid the saloon because that was not the place for a boy. And there was no bathroom, only the outhouse.
If there were rooms like this at the motel, they forgot to give us one. No, our room was like any other motel room except it had a big picture of John Wayne over the bed, which was freaky. All you thought of when you laid in bed was whether John Wayne was going to say something to you and you kind of wanted him to, but you also didn’t want him to. And because you sat up all night thinking about this, you didn’t sleep at all. Hence, we only stayed there one night and my brother didn’t ask again. We were left feeling, “Is this all there is?”
I’ve felt this same way after meeting people who came highly recommended but I realized they were more shallow than a sand bar. It’s what Dorothy felt as Toto pulled the curtain away to reveal the Wizard of Oz – he was really just a man with a loud speaker: “Is this all there is?”
You know what I mean…it’s when we have analyzed the situation and ended up desiring more. We want more than the situation holds: we want there to be a wild west room, deeper character in people, or a magical man from Oz. But there isn’t and that leaves us longing.
At the first hint of desire, some of us go out and fill it because we can’t stand to be in want. We don’t like unmet desire. So we eat or we drink or we shop or we have sex. But maybe longing is all part of the plan. Maybe a bit of wanting is good for us.
God says he set eternity in our hearts. I think this is a clue that longing is meant to be part of life. I mean, if eternity is in our hearts, then it’s really in us. It mixes with our blood and is distributed all throughout us. So we can’t escape the eternity inside. But this world, wonderful as it is, is not eternal and will pass away one day. And the things we spend our time doing, they’re not eternal. And the things we buy, they’re not eternal. So that leaves us in an interesting position. It makes us feel, “Is this all there is?”
Don’t miss that feeling; don’t gloss over it when it comes; don’t try to satisfy it with something else. Sit with it and let it work. Because it will come, so let it. It’s the product of having eternity inside.
This world is fascinating and beautiful and thrilling. But it’s not all there is. It points us to the next world. There’s much more out there and hopefully we’ll all get there, if we let eternity be our guide.
How are you spending your eternity?