Two of the most popular Disney movies in recent memory is the strikingly original creation, Moana, and the live-action remake of the beloved classic, Beauty and the Beast. The two stories couldn’t be any more different – one is about an island girl’s adventures with a long-lost demigod while the other is about a plain-Jane village girl who falls in love with a cursed prince.
But having watched both of them, I couldn’t help but notice a similarity that caught my attention. In both movies, the main characters – Moana and Belle – long for something…more. If you asked them what exactly they wanted, they probably couldn’t tell you. They both long for something that is just beyond their reach, that is deeper and more profound than anything they could ever hope to experience in their average, habitual existence in their respective villages. But they can’t quite get to it.
They express their longing in song form. If you have children under the age of 10 (especially girls) no doubt you have heard them belt out Moana’s passionate desire to “see the line where the sky meets the sea” or hear Belle ache for more than her “provincial life.” Our two heroines are stuck in the humdrum of ordinary, day to day life and desire something that they can’t quite get their fingers on. They are like Plato’s cave dwellers – watching dancing shadows but acutely aware that there is something more lurking behind the shaky and shadowy projections – something more real than the not quite realities that they are currently watching.
And for some reason, when those songs come on, I ache with them! When Moana is on the edge of the water, desperately longing to see what lies beyond the horizon, I’m right there with her! When Belle has her nose in a book, reading about great adventures and singing about life that goes beyond washing clothes and getting married – I groan with her! Why is that? Why do we love stories about people breaking through the humdrum of daily life and finding something more?
I think it’s because deep down, we are searching too. Just like Belle reaches for her something more in books and Moana reaches for hers in the sea, we reach for our deeper meaning in a million and one things. Movies, music, social media, friends, jobs, hobbies, and so on and so forth. And while our search for that something in life expresses itself differently, I think we are all reaching for the same thing. We will get to what that is later, but first – why? Why are we all reaching? I think that it is because although Moana is an island native and Belle is a French farm-girl, and we are from myriad different walks of life, we are all inescapably human. And as humans, we long for something more – something beyond us. Beyond the sea for Moana and beyond the pages of a book for Belle. And for us, beyond the screen of a smartphone or the window of an office building.
We long for something that reaches far past the habitual, daily routine of ordinary life and touches a deeper reality. But back to our other question – what exactly is that deeper reality? What is this not-quite-within-our-reach meaning that we long for? Well, I think we can find the answer to that in the 8th chapter of Romans.
There, Paul tells us that all of the creation is eagerly waiting for the appearing of the sons of God. He says in Romans 8:22 that, “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now.” All of the creation groans – longs – for something more! It longs for the unveiling of the sons of God and the appearance of the new creation.
So when Moana sings about the sea and Belle sings about the wonderful things she reads about in her books, and we are stuck in a cubicle screening phone calls all day while humming these tunes, we are all crying out for the same thing: redemption. We are crying out for eternity. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has “put eternity in their (us, human beings) hearts.” We are eternal beings. And nothing can satisfy us except eternity.
These things – eternity and redemption – can only be found in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. At the end of the 8th chapter of Romans, Paul unveils the glorious climax of creation for those who love God. He says that we will be glorified. And that nothing will be able to separate us from the love that God has for us in Christ Jesus. In other words, we will be redeemed and we will enter eternity.
We will finally see what is beyond the sea and we will finally get past our provincial lives. The something more we have been grappling for our whole lives will finally break through and we will be complete. But until now, we wait in the tension.
C.S. Lewis describes this tension we feel in the current creation like this:
At present, we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendors we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.
I long for the day that the door opens and I am welcomed into the something more that I have desired for my entire life. Will you be there when that door swings open?
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