Suppose a man did everything required of him, fulfilled all the duties of his relations with this fellows—was toward them at least, a true man; he would yet feel that something was lacking to his necessary well-being. Like a live flower, he would feel that he had not yet blossomed, and could not tell what the blossom ought to be. In this direction the words of the Lord point, when he says to the youth, “If thou wouldst be perfect.” The man would feel that the truth of his being and nature was not yet revealed to his consciousness. He would remain unsatisfied, because there was in him the deepest, closest, strongest relation which had not yet come into live fact, which had not yet become a truth in him, toward which he was not true, whereby his being remained untrue, he was not himself, was not yet ripened into the divine idea, which alone can content itself. A child with a child’s heart who does not even know that he has a father, yet misses him. This relation has not yet so far begun to be fulfilled in him, as that the coming blossom should send before it patience and hope enough to enable him to live by faith without sight. When the flower begins to come, the human plant begins to rejoice in the glory of God not yet revealed, the inheritance of the saints in light; with uplifted stem and forward-leaning bud expects the hour when the lily of God’s field shall know itself alive, with God himself for its heart and its atmosphere; the hour when God and the man shall be one, and all that God cares for shall be the man’s.
The Incompleteness of Life
by Stephen Carney
“Suppose a man did everything required of him, fulfilled all the duties of his relations with his fellows-was toward them at least, a true man; he would yet feel that something was lacking...” writes MacDonald. It would seem that he is alluding to the fact that no matter how well a person might live, there still remains a level of incompleteness in life.
What woman or man has not felt the truth of this experience! Sometimes people marry with a hope that marriage will fulfill them. I often kid (or should I say half-kid?) with them at the rehearsal by suggesting that when them come down to the altar they should turn and face each other and stare googly-eyed into each other's eyes saying, “You're so lucky! You get to meet all of my needs and satisfy all of my desires for the rest of your life! I'm giving you that privilege!” They laugh of course, but nervously, as secretly they do want just that! But they soon find out there is, no matter how fulfilling the marriage, an incompleteness to the union.
Many marriages end in divorce for just this reason, as one or both spouses believine that maybe the next person will make them happier. We often find it in our work as well. What we think will be a satisfying career turns into either a flop or an addiction. Workaholism drives us because we believe that if we work a little harder we will get the reward. What reward we do not know, but it would seem to be just that piece that is missing from our lives. We spend much of our lives engaging the search for the otherness that we are missing.
Then we are haunted by the unfinished business of life. Unfinished conversations, unfinished work, and unfinished relationships follow our lives around like shadows that cannot be shaken. We lose a loved one and we wish we could have said what was left unsaid. Friendships end and families sometimes are divided because the words were never said, allowing the silence of unfinished conversation to dominate fragile relationships. But we are human, and all of life has an unfinished or incomplete quality about it. We never took that trip, visited that uncle, made our mark, or spoke the word we knew we should have said. We can look back and see many things we never got done, and the sense of incompleteness lingers.
But this incompleteness is, at it's core, a longing to have our lives filled up to fullness. Nothing seems to totally satisfy, nor can anything satisfy but the one thing we were all meant to experience. Pascal reminds us that we are all born with a “God-sized” hole in our heart that only He can fill. If man was made for fellowship with God, then it should follow that man remains largely unfulfilled without that relationship. The yearning we feel is a longing after Him. Loneliness is simply our “longingness” after God. You can be surrounded by people and still feel alone or incomplete. The otherness that we are reaching for is the child seeking the heart of its Father. It is the lover after the heart of the Beloved One, and the dreamer seeking the Dream Maker. We cannot rest till until the veil is removed and we come face to face with the One who made us in His own likeness. As MacDonald alludes to, no amount of good works or religion can satisfy this hunger. Only that that which we are hungering for will satisfy, and He has said, “You will seek for Me and you will find Me, if you seek for Me with your whole heart.” (Jeremiah 29.13)