Recently Grace has been obsessed with my childhood copy of Cinderella. She asks us to read it to her all the time. It’s a bit tattered these days, but the magic hasn’t faded one bit. I remember sitting for hours reading this book over and over again… gazing at the pictures and imagining my own chance to go to the ball…
But, I also remember when I was girl, thinking that I would never be Cinderella in the story. It was far more likely I would have been one of the step-sisters. And I remember thinking I would be satisfied with that… Most people would say to me now— “What is wrong with you?!!! Don’t you like yourself??? If you’re going to put yourself in the story- you have to be Cinderella! You deserve to be the heroine!”
We all want to be Elizabeth Bennette, Jane Eyre… Cinderella… but follow this train of thought with me for a moment…
In the Walt Disney version of Cinderella and in the Brother’s Grim 1821 version, the ugly step-sisters are just that. They are totally one-dimensional and in the end they get their comeuppance. But, in the traditional Cinderella story that is in my childhood book, the Modern Western version written in 1697 by Charles Perrault – the step-sisters start out cruel and ugly, but in the end they change. They end up seeing Cinderella for the true beauty that she is. They are forgiven by her. They love her. They are brought into the palace court and each marries a lord. Because of Cinderella they are delivered from their old ugly lives and they get to take part in the “happily-ever-after-ending.”
Doug was recently reading this book to Gracie and he came to me after reading it like he had just had an epiphany.
He said— “I never realized how much of the Gospel was reflected in the Cinderella story!”
I was expecting him to come up with how we are all “Cinderellas” persecuted in the world and then rescued by the Prince— our Lord. But, he had a totally different take on it that reminded me of this notion I had when I was a young girl— about not actually being Cinderella in the story.
He Said the Gospel According to Cinderella is this:
|Notice the Step-sisters are pretty,
but their beauty is distorted by their scowling faces
Cinderella is Jesus— kind, beautiful, suffering and persecuted. We are the step-sisters, lost in our selfishness. The stroke of mid-night is the crucifixion, the darkness, and then the long wait until the Prince- God- comes to resurrect the beauty. Can you imagine what it must have been like to be Cinderella, knowing the Prince loved you, that the kingdom was yours, and having to give it up? Can you imagine what the wait must have been like… waiting for the prince to come and find you? Then the Prince arrives! He reveals the truth of who Cinderella is. Her beauty is resurrected!
Now compare that to the Gospel of our Lord. Think of our Lord, Jesus. Can you imagine what it must have been like, to know the kingdom was yours— and to give it up? Can you imagine the long wait, the suffering on the cross, being abandoned by your Father and the darkness of the tomb? The question is: “Why would he do it???” The Kingdom was his! He already had everything! The answer is: the only thing he didn’t have was us.
And here is the Good News— Cinderella embraces and forgives her step-sisters. They see her for the true beauty she is. In spite of all their bad behavior toward her in the past they are brought to the palace court and granted intimate access to the kingdom… just like Christ’s sacrifice gives us forgiveness. For all the ways we have abused God and abused each other, in spite of it all, because of Jesus we are no longer the ugly step-sister! We are transformed! We are brought into the palace and become members of the royal court!
|Notice how the step-sisters are now fully transformed into real beauties, now that they are forgiven and
brought in to be members of the royal court.
See Cinderella in the background looking on lovingly and enjoying her sisters’ taking part in the inheritance and that “happily-ever-after” ending. But you know what? What we receive through Christ is way better than what the step-sisters got! We don’t just marry into the royal court. We get adopted by the King! We are not just members of his court; we are members of his family, his children— with all the rights of children, and a full inheritance to everything in His kingdom.
And along with our elevated status and share of the inheritance is admittance to something more significant. If your father is the “boss” or the CEO, if your dad is the President or Prime Minister, if your father is the KING, that gives you an intimate access that no one else gets. You have an opportunity to access his power, strength, and resources that other people never have. But even greater than the privilege to the father’s resources and power, we have something more… knowing and being in relationship with Him. He is there for his children.
Being a child means being able to call on your parent at any hour and have mom or dad there. Recently, Grace has recently been going through a little night-mare phase. Some nights she wakes up just crying out: “I want my Daddy…. ” No one else could call her father out of his slumber, but his little girl. A child who wakes in the night can call out “Daddy” and find Daddy there.
Now I ask this… have you forgotten that you are a child? Have you forgotten whose child you are? You are sons and daughters of the King! Members of the Royal court! You haven’t just married into it… you have been adopted in and nothing can change that. Nothing can take that away from you. No lies of the accuser, no beating back by the din of our culture, no fears, and no nightmares —real or imagined— no stress, no pain, no illness, no bad day… Nothing can divide you from your status as a Child of His!
You know the recent royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton was the darling of the media. Everyone was enthralled by grabbing a peek into that moment when a commoner would be transformed into a princess. They spent a lot of time making comparisons to the wedding of Charles and Dianna, but every story was tainted with the tragedy of Charles and Dianna’s divorce. One news report I heard talked about a story of how when Charles and Dianna’s divorce was final Dianna was stripped of her title as “Princess.” William, who was 14 or 15 at the time, said to her— “Don’t worry, Mom. When I am King, I will give you back your title…”
But the big question for us today is— Did she ever really lose it?
Take a look at ourselves and our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. How many of us are walking around like we have been stripped of our crown? Living like there is no joy for today, but that’s just some future hope, some future joy, some future rest we have to look forward to?
That is not true! That’s not what the Bible says! The thing that makes the Gospel of Christ unique is that it’s not just looking forward to a “release” from this world. It’s not just the old cliché people who aren’t Christians try to boil it down to— “Oh, but someday there will be heaven…”
The Gospel of Christ is unique because it’s NOT just waiting for some future inheritance! It is participating as partners with the King in the complete transformation and redemption of this world now. Your hope, your inheritance is for right now! You’re not waiting for some future crown; your head is adorned with that crown now! Your joy is now. Your rest is now. Your inheritance is now. You have access to all God’s resources, power, strength and status now! You have intimate access to a relationship with Him NOW!
Your father is the king of kings! You are amidst a great adventure helping build a kingdom that will never end. Every page of your life writes the tales of the Real Princess Diaries…. Every wave you crest sets you further on the Real Voyage of the Dawn Treader! You were created for a royal purpose and you are an integral part of helping build that never-ending kingdom. But, brothers and sisters, you have NO power if you run around the world believing you’re still an unredeemed ugly step sister! Do you want the power of royalty? Do you want to move as a force for God in this world? If you want to move with real “girl” power or real “man” power— you have to back that up with real God-power and remember that you are royalty!
You belong to the one king who is worthy of your love, service and devotion. He is the Father who sacrificed His own son for you. He is the true elder brother who willingly gave up his life to rescue you, to go out and find you when you were lost and bring you home… who willingly gave up his inheritance and his life for yours! What more could God do? He is the ultimate hero! Love Prince Charming, and Mr. Darcy as I do, there is no greater hero!
You were made for so much more than what the world says, you are worth so much more than what the world says… And the Hero who redeems the world wants you by his side helping him in the Kingdom. So, it’s time to claim your royal destiny.
Let me see you lift your head up high. Take a moment to straighten your crown. Remind yourself to whom you belong!
Now, go out and walk like you belong to the King!
Art from the original 1954 Publication
by Gosset & Dulap Publishers of New York
Cinderella: An Old Favorite With New Pictures
Retold by Evelyn Andreas
Pictures by Ruth Ives