Tonight we went and saw Beauty and the Beast. It was fantastic. I loved the songs that played directly from the movie of my childhood. I loved watching Hermione Granger…I mean Belle…unwittingly find the grand adventure her heart so sought after. And my absolute favorite part was watching the restoration of the castle. My entire body was chilled and covered in goosebumps.
When I was a child, I saw myself as Belle. I detested the boring town I grew up in and constantly took myself away on adventures by burying my nose deep within a book; always lamenting that an adventurous story never happened to me. But tonight, for the first time, I realized I was not Belle, I am the broken down castle. I am the beast.
As we are first introduced to the story, we see a gorgeous castle, filled with light and hope; expectation and life. The Prince who lives there is known throughout the land for his beauty; there is none that can compare. And then, something happened. A curse fell over the land. And everything is broken. Each person who lived in the castle is now only a dim reflection of who they use to be. The once glorious and beautiful building that stood as a testament of power and majesty, is now broken. Dingy, dusty, fallen under a dark shadow, in which nothing shines bright or beautiful, not as it once did.
And everything within you screams, this is not as it should be.
Each of the characters within the castle longs for the return of life. Longs for the one who would break the curse. They wait, with eager expectation, for the one who would bring restoration.
I remember watching an author talk about the return of a tv show I use to watch. He was discussing how one of the main characters the season before made some horrible choices and betrayed her friends. And he said how excited he was for her storyline this year because it was going to be a story of redemption. I remember his face lighting up as he said next, “I love redemption stories!”
Why do we love redemption stories so much? We love stories of the brokenhearted finding love again. That Christmas finally comes to Narnia. We cheer Simba on as he defeats Scar, and the rain washes away all the destruction the hyenas’ made to Pride Rock. Our hearts ache when we see Bruce Wayne run down so many paths to destruction, his brokenness a reflection of our own.
And yet, we know how the story ends. A cry deep within him, stirred up by witnessing the brokenness, damage, and destruction of his home city, wrenches his heart. This isn’t what it should be! And this idea propels him into becoming Batman. As a way to redeem his city; as a way to redeem himself.
You and I were created to be glorious. The original world we were meant to live in was perfect. It was without violence. It was without hatred. It was without pain and guilt. It was without depression and cancer. Without shame, without fear, without anger, it was without every dirty and broken thing that we live with now. Each of us has something within us, that when we see it in the world, it breaks our hearts and we think: “This is wrong. This isn’t right. This isn’t how things should be.”
And we’re right. This isn’t how things should be. We are living in a broken, dim reflection of the world as it was created to be. And the reason why we love redemption stories so much, is because each and every one of us is a redemption story. We love redemption stories because it’s a reflection of our own lives! Of our own world! The Bible says that even creation waits in expectation for the day it will be free from death and decay! (Romans 8:22)
We were created glorious, placed in a beautiful world without any pain or suffering, and we didn’t want it. We chose to do the one thing God said not to do. Out of this big, ginormous, beautiful garden, God said, “Don’t eat the fruit of this one tree, because you will die.” And what do we do? We eat the fruit. And our disobedience brought upon us the curse of sin. It brought upon us death, pain, suffering, all the broken down dirtiness of the world.
Jesus came to break the curse.
As we watch the beast transform at the end of the movie, the beauty returned to the castle, everything repaired and restored to its former glory, it moves something within us. Because this is what God promises to us. We are promised complete restoration. That one day, things will be even more glorious than what they were in the garden. Everything will be set right.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 says “He has placed eternity in the hearts of men.” When God promises eternity, it is an eternity forever in His glory, with us and all His creation fully and completely restored. Even nonbelievers feel this pull of eternity, evidenced in their love of redemption stories. They long for what they do not know, because God is always pulling us to himself.
And that is why, as we watch The Beauty and the Beast, we are waiting for the final moments. For the final scene when everything is made right, when everything is restored. When the beast is turned back into a man.
It was glorious. But it is only a dim reflection of what is to come.