If the world is like a body, “God” is the spirit of that body. His Will animates and gives purpose to everything; He illumines the forms of material things with the beauty of His attributes. Thus in a beautiful face I see His Beauty glowing like a divine light shining from a mortal lamp.
Now, our soul is so thirsty for Him, when we see that beautiful face we sit in rapture: adoring, loving, feeling transformed by what we see. We hunger, and feed, and hunger some more. But we often make a fatal mistake: We think that face is the source of what we feel. This makes us want to “possess” it, to assure ourselves of an continuing relationship with it, so we can feed our hunger whenever we feel the need.
That face and the soul behind it are only a lamp, though. Trying to own them is like taking a lamp into a dark house, and soon the oil burns up. Then we no longer see the same light we saw before. But if we are fed from God, there is no reason why all the world could not remain a source of beauty for us. It doesn’t have to fade. The same piece of music can touch us again and again, and always in a newer and deeper way – as long as we aren’t trying to wring the experience dry for every drop it can offer independent of its Source.
So as for the things I pursue in life, they cannot, of themselves, fulfill my needs – only God can do that. My goals offer a context for experiences that are unique to each situation, and they’re an excellent way to grow and know life, but the beating heart at the center must be Him or else each one will ultimately dry up.
I’ve found this to be true of marriage, occupation, places I’ve lived, friends, faith, even dreams. It’s not the outward form that endures, but how it relates to the soul’s journey. The body is brought to life by its spirit – not the perfection of its cells and organs.