We gals grew up hearing and reading love stories and fairy tales from the time we were little. One of my very favorites was, and still is, Cinderella.
Perhaps I am drawn to her story because, like myself, she was just an ordinary gal.
And, she, like many of us, found herself stuck in what felt like the inescapable drudgery of daily life.
With the death of her mother and father, she felt very much alone and unloved. And sometimes we can feel lost and alone in this great big world of ours too.
She also experienced the painful feeling of rejection and ridicule by those who should have loved her. Instead, her stepmother and stepsisters were wickedly cruel. And who of us hasn’t experienced hurt-filled words?
But then, one day, she encountered “divine intervention” and the experience was transformational, to say the least. From dirty cinder soot clothes to a sparkling new ballgown, she soon found herself the Belle of the Ball dancing with the Prince Himself.
But, as is the case in all our lives, in a blink of an eye, real life rushed back in and she once again found herself in the same old routine of life, back in the cinder soot. The memory of her encounter with the Prince began to fade.
Fortunately, her prince had not forgotten her. He had been searching high and low throughout the land to find her.
When he finally did find her, she was not dressed in that beautiful ballgown like the night he’d first danced with her; no, she now stood before him in all her cinder soot shabbiness.
He, however, could’ve cared less about her outward appearance. Because his only motivation for knocking on her door that day…was love. He loved her…just as she was.
Victor Hugo once said…
The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved…loved for ourselves.
And isn’t that what we all long for in the end?
Love stories. Fairy tales. Call them what you will, there’s a reason why we gals are drawn to them.
I think it’s because, like Cinderella, we too hope that despite our ordinariness, our unexceptionalness, yes, even our cinder soot shabbiness, we too might be chosen. And not just chosen. Loved. Loved for who we are. Loved NEW. Loved from ordinary into extraordinary.
Because if love is anything…it is transforming.
Stories like Cinderella give us hope. And, if we are listening close enough, if we are really paying attention, we will hear within these stories of ours, the TRUE Story. The greatest love story of all time.
The Story that began when God sprinkled stars in the night sky and placed the moon right where we could see it, at Creation, just to remind us that light can never be overcome by darkness. The Story that continued in a garden with a man and woman who fell from grace, but, God went searching for them, as Moses so poetically puts it, in the cool of the day. It’s The Story that continued throughout the Old Testament of God’s faithful
persistence…his continued reaching out in love to a wayward people. And when the time was right, he wrote The “For God so loved the world that he sent his only son… story,” as John tells us in chapter 3 verse 16. The Story of Jesus, our Prince of Peace, who gave his life for the love of us in order to cleanse and renew…to transfigure and transform we cinder soot, sin-stained gals into his beautiful bride.
To be chosen and loved so dearly by the King just as we are…you’d think that a love like that would make all the difference.
Yet, even when divine intervention finds us and we are transformed, somehow when real life comes rushing back into our lives, we can become so preoccupied, so absent-minded.
Because, if your heart is anything like mine, it can so easily forget…
My heart...is full of leaks.
My memory has no retention,
I forget so easily the lessons learned,
And Thy truths seep away.
Give me a heart that carries home the water of grace.
The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions
When those I love battle hard against cancer, struggle in difficult marriages, ache over children wrestling with addiction, experience premature widowhood…
When the world looks as if it is has gone mad, when evil seems to win the day, and hopelessness hangs heavy in the air, my heart, like my Puritan brothers and sisters of old, can spring a leak. The peace that Jesus promised, peace in the midst of trouble, can seep right out of my soul (John 16:33).
Amid so much pain, unrest, and the constant barrage of bad news, I can forget...
I can forget that God still sees every sparrow that falls to the ground...that he catches every tear that we shed...he has every hair on our head counted, that he weeps with us when our hearts are breaking ...and despite what’s happening around our globe he still holds this old world of ours in his loving hands. (Matthew 10:29, Psalm 56:8, Matthew 10:30, John 11:35, Psalm 24:1)
Yes. I may forget...but, thank God, he never does!
Perhaps that’s why I so enjoy stories like Cinderella. They not only remind me that I am loved, they provide a way of remembering that I am loved, and pursued by a loving God.
We are above all things loved – that is the good news of the gospel.
ps if you haven't seen Beauty and the Beast yet...go! Talk about transformational love!