ONCE UPON A TIME
Nearly every fairy tale begins with “Once Upon a Time.”
“Once upon a time in a little cottage in the middle of the deep woods there were three bears…”
“Once upon a time in a faraway kingdom lived a princess…”
I used to think my story began with “Once upon a time in a small town in Kansas lived a little girl with long blonde braids.” But my story began long before that.
The setting for the story in which I am living starts out, “In the beginning,” which is very much like “Once upon a time,” since both phrases refer to a nondescript time and place that marks the beginning of the story.
“In the beginning” actually occurs twice in the Bible –once in Genesis, and again in John.
Genesis 1:1-2 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters."
John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
These verses point to a time even before the world was created. They depict Jesus, the Word, God’s son, in loving fellowship with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. Their fellowship, the fellowship of the triune God with Himself, was perfect and complete.
And yet God had something more in mind. I love how Ephesians 1:4-6 phrases that ‘something’ in The Message:
“Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.”
For those who may doubt God’s intentions toward us, who might believe, among other things, that He set us up for the fall, you can bury those doubts for good.
Quite simply, God created me because he desired to share His love with me.
Nearly every fairy tale has as its main character, one who is lost...invisible... clueless. Snow White was oblivious to her mother’s obsessive envy, nor did Sleeping Beauty expect any harm from a spindle. Little Red Riding Hood was unaware that danger lurked in the woods.
When I woke up as a little girl in Kansas I was lost, too…totally clueless. In fact, we all enter this world lost.
Our first parents, Adam and Eve, were placed in Paradise and lavishly given every good thing. They couldn’t even conceive of pain. In His love, God gave them a freedom of will, knowing that love could not be forced upon them and still be love. Love is a voluntary yielding of the will. If God merely wanted obedient creatures, He could have made robots. If He had desired to be entertained, we might have been smiling marionettes. But no. He designed us to enjoy a loving relationship with Him.
Adam and Eve chose to distrust the heart of God. That choice sent them from the garden and sealed our fate. Consequently, we each come into this world lost, sinful, in dire need of a Savior…and we haven’t a clue.
EVIL DISGUISED AS GOOD
A familiar theme in many fairy tales is Evil disguised as good…the poison apple, the wolf in Grandma’s nightgown and glasses, the witch’s candy house, to name a few.
Adam and Eve’s fateful choice came about when they were fooled by the beautiful serpent who was really Lucifer, the angel who had been kicked out of heaven for trying to usurp God’s authority. It would be easy to point the finger at Adam and Eve, accusing them for what we’ve become, but the truth is they are representatives of our race. Any one of us would have made the same choice.
Earlier I identified myself as “the lost” character in God’s fairy tale, but I could have also played the role of evil disguised as good. When I entered the world in a sinful, lost condition, I was nevertheless created in God’s image. There was a hint of goodness, something of what I was created to be, in the midst of my depravity. If, in my sin, I attempted to buff and polish my sinful self, put it out there for all to see, and try to pass it goodness, Isaiah 64:6 says that without the saving power of Christ, “…all our righteous acts are as filthy rags,”
Every fairy tale has a hero. Often, but not always, the hero of the fairy tale is good, disguised … a frog who is really a prince, a Beast who will save the Beauty, the woodsman with the scary axe who rescues Grandma, or simply a non-descript little pig that does in the big bad wolf.
I tend to think of God as the author of my fairy tale, and of course He is. But if God is the author, then His son Jesus Christ, who was there with Him in the beginning when the story began, is the hero.
Jesus was a disguised hero, too. The Jews were looking for a powerful ruler to deliver them, but Jesus came as a helpless infant. And Isaiah 53 says, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.”
With all the beauty that surrounds Christmas and the lovely pictures of an older Jesus in flowing hair and beard, light streaming from His face, we tend to forget that Jesus wasn’t physically attractive at all.
THE LEGENDARY DEED
The hero in every fairy tale performs a legendary deed. He awakens the sleeping princess, defeats the foe, captures the wolf, or rescues Rapunzel from the tower.
My hero’s legendary deed can be found in Romans 5:6-8.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
The heroes in classic fairy tales might risk life and limb for a damsel in distress, but my hero willingly gave up His reputation, completely humbled Himself, and suffered the worst death imaginable for me, a lousy sinner!
AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER
The Classic fairy tale ending…And they lived happily ever after…brings a smile to my face and a pitter patter to my heart. It’s the ending we all hope for -to marry Prince Charming and spend the rest of our days in the castle. The wolf is finished off, and we skip blissfully off to Grandma’s house, never again fearing for our safety.
Unlike the main character in most fairy tales, I know now how my story ends. My hero will return on a white horse and take me to a far-off land where beautiful mansions have been prepared. And there I will live happily ever after with the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, because His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. (Psalm 145:13)
And the most amazing part of my fairy tale is this. Unlike the hero in most fairy tales, my hero has always been and will always be. “I am the Alpha and the omega, the first and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:13) Once upon a time, in the beginning, with me in mind, Jesus planned and secured my happily ever after.
All Scripture quotes are from the NIV Bible unless otherwise stated.
Please visit Joanne at An Open Book by clicking on the Monday Manna box on my sidebar, to find others who participated in today's Monday Manna.