What Do We Long For? - Montreat College

By Anastasia Howland

There are very few things that we don’t eventually grow tired of. Those new Nike kicks, or that cute crop top you just bought? They’ll lose their allure soon, and just a little while after that they’ll be out of style. Or how about Thanksgiving leftovers? You’re through-the-roof excited for the turkey and gravy the day of, and maybe even later that night when the time comes to make Thanksgiving leftover sandwiches for dinner. If we’re being honest, though, after Thanksgiving night you’re ready to move on. How about your favorite movie—Titanic or The Empire Strikes Back—do you ever grow tired of that? Well, after watching your favorite flick you might sit back with a satisfied grin and exclaim, “Never gets old!” But that’s not quite true, is it? You can watch it once every few years, or perhaps every few months, but any more than that and you stop yourself from watching for fear that it will get old—or because it already has. Is there anything in this world that we legitimately never grow tired of? I believe there is.

We never complain because we’ve seen one too many sunsets. For one sunset after another, after another, we are held captive in utter awe. And we never grumble once we reach the top of the mountain after a long hike because the view is boring or we’ve seen it too many times. We might grumble all the way up the mountain, but once our eyes behold the sight of the rolling mountain range, our complaints are silenced. And we never whine after a rainstorm, saying, “Not another rainbow!” We elbow our neighbor and point it out so they don’t miss it. We look up at the sky with a smile, and give up trying to photograph it because the picture never turns out as stunning as the sight is in person. Now, what do all of these things have in common? They are all beautiful.

As recent Crossroads speaker Evan Koons noted, “We’re never ‘beauty’d’ out.” We never grow tired of beauty. We want it forever. But sadly, these beautiful things don’t last quite that long, do they? Just as the sunset reaches its most brilliant colors, the sun is gone below the horizon a moment later, and the colors begin to fade. And after spending a while on top of the mountain, gazing wide-eyed at the majestic view, you have to head back down the mountain, so you’re not stuck there when it gets dark. Even the longest-lasting rainbows usually disappear after a few minutes, and we’re left staring at an empty sky. What are we to do with our longing for ever-lasting beauty when that which is beautiful never lasts?

We need not worry that our longing will not be satisfied, for in truth, that which is most beautiful does last forever. As Evan Koons also noted in his presentation, “Beauty is a person.” Or rather three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God. These fleeting sights of beauty in our world all point us to the most beauty-full One who does not leave or end. It is in Him, and only Him, that our longing for beauty, eternity, and everything else, is satisfied. Ecclesiastes 3:11 states that “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” All of the sights He has created in our world—our time—such as the sunsets, the mountains, and the rainbows, are indeed beautiful. But we long for more. Even though we can’t understand it, we long for that which he has set in our hearts: eternity. And we need not worry, for in Him—our beautiful, eternal God—we will never be left longing.