The Signpost of the Imperfect

Imperfection's Signposts picture.jpg

C. S. Lewis penned something that has long confused me. In Mere Christianity, one of his most influential works, he wrote,

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.
– C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

While I don’t disagree with him, I’ve never truly understood what he was getting at. I always wrestled with his point here, trying to accept it without truly comprehending it. But recently, I think it’s begun to dawn on me.

While listening through some of my favorite albums, I realized that I haven’t found a “perfect” song. Every time I get close, thinking I’ve found perfection, some piece of the work falls short, be it a lyric choice or a musical decision or an underlying message. As I widened my scope of consideration, I saw more flaws. No media or meal, no privilege or pastime, can ever reach the perfection that I seek. Nothing short of God, that is.

This is where Lewis’ quotation came to mind. He argues that this realization ought to focus us on the only perfect thing, to drive us to pursue it, and to lead others to pursue it above all else, undistracted by the lesser things, the copies. In a way, the imperfect pleasures of this life and the unfulfilled desires are signposts directing us to the true source of joy, to the God who can satisfy our desires because he created them and knows them best. As I shared this thought with a friend, he reminded me that Augustine would agree:

You have prompted him, that he should delight to praise you, for you have made us for yourself and restless is our heart until it comes to rest in you.
– Augustine, Confessions

Both men pointed to this truth, that we were made for God. As the psalmist writes,

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
Psalm 139:13-14

This week, look around you and notice the imperfections. Search yourself and see your desires unmet by anything this world offers. Then look up, setting your eyes on things above (Colossians 3). Let the imperfection around us remind us that we were made for more.

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