I have always loved Disney’sBeauty and the Beast, especially the scene when the dying Beast finally gets Belle to love him. Then the unexpected happens: he comes back to life, no longer as a beast, but as a real man, alive, filled with glory, hope, and love. I am always mesmerized by this scene because it speaks to my own longing for resurrection.
The New Testament repeatedly speaks to this longing, announcing that the resurrection of Jesus opens the door to our resurrection. We are to live knowing that this life is not the end of the story—that a great, great good is coming. But there is more. Paul claims that when God raised Jesus from the dead, He also made us alive with Him. Somehow what happened to Jesus has happened to us: we are now dead to sin and alive to God (Rom. 6:5-11). Somehow once we come to Christ, we have already entered this resurrection story! What could this mean for us and for our hearts as men?
Life here as we experience it seems to compel us to kill our hearts and then bury them. One of the most predominant forces is shame, the experience of exposure before others leading to mockery and condemnation. We are all enormously shaped by shame in different ways, yet its message is always the same: Run, hide, don’t allow others to see who you really are. If you do, you will only be mocked and degraded again. The only way to survive in this life is to bury your heart and put on a mask. Yes, we learn to survive in life, but at what cost? Our truest selves get buried in the rubble, unavailable to others, unavailable even to ourselves.
The second force is disappointment. Whatever we turn to, whether it’s marriage, career, the next night out, or the next vacation, there is always a letdown. Our longings don’t match experience, and our dreams get hijacked by reality. The message from all our disappointment is this: Bury your heart. Forget about the ache. It will only hurt too much to keep longing. You must lower expectations. You must simply get on with life. Yet the longing keeps surfacing at unexpected moments, watching a child play with carefree abandon or noticing the beauty of a summer sunset. Something or someone keeps calling out to us in these moments: There is more, so much more.
The third force is our wounding. The times when we did live out of our hearts have sometimes led to an even worse result—abuse or abandonment. It seems that others often manipulate our hearts to get what they need or are just oblivious to our own needs. The message we get from our wounding is this: Life is not safe. Others are not safe. Don’t be vulnerable before others, lest they wound you again. Don’t trust others, lest they turn on you. Bury your heart.
The triple punch of these three forces feels unstoppable and irredeemable, yet there is one unexpected counter force. It is the same force that no one expected when they killed Jesus: the power of the Father to raise Him from the dead when all human hope was gone. This is the same power that can resurrect our hearts as well as our bodies.
What Beauty and the Beast is saying in fairy tale is what the gospel says in history: When Jesus rose from the dead, somehow we were there with Him and are now coming alive in Him. It means that the unexpected is happening: the power of Jesus' love is resurrecting our hearts as men right now.
For only love dispels the shame.
Only love counters the disappointment.
Only love heals the wound.
What is our part in this resurrection story? Ask Jesus to reveal His love to you. Then keep asking until He shows you. It will be the resurrection of your heart, making you into a man, alive, filled with glory, hope, and love.
One day it will be the resurrection of your body.
Bill Delvaux is a graduate of Duke University and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and has served as a pastor and a high school Bible teacher. Presently, he leads Landmark Journey Ministries as a speaker, small group coach, and author of Divided: When the Head and Heart Don’t Agree and Landmarks: Turning Points on Your Journey Toward God. Bill also serves as content editor for Stand Firm, LifeWay's devotional magazine for men. He and his wife have two grown daughters and reside in Franklin, TN. Follow Bill on Twitter @BillDelvaux.