Not only can these fairy-tales be enjoyed because they are moral, but morality can be enjoyed because it puts us in fairyland, in a world at once of wonder and of war.G.K. Chesterton
Life is a story. It is God’s Story.
Life is God’s fairy tale.
There is the big-picture Story that God is telling from beginning to end, a story of an enchanted tree in an idyllic garden, a story of free men enslaved and then made free once more at great peril and cost, a story of a Prince come to rescue His bride.
Life is a story, a fairy tale; therefore there will be dragons and wicked witches and evil forests and disguised fairies.
Dragons will come. The dragon is a temptation to evil, and it usually comes from within rather than without. Slay the dragon, for its end is destruction. There are wicked witches or cunning magicians who make themselves appear good, but bring only evil. Do not be enticed into wrongdoing. There are evil forests, places that are scary and full of fear; but you will come out of those places of dread, so keep your hope firm in the source of your salvation and do not fear. There are even faeries, disguised messengers, angels, in the world, working out God’s will, and we might not even know it when we encounter them, though they bring us help in time of need.
These things are real.
Life is a story, a fairy tale; therefore, the outcome is predetermined and not yours to make.
God is working out His plan. He will prevail. That is the ultimate outcome, and all smaller outcomes play into that larger scheme.
God has baptized you into His team and called you by His Name. Follow His path by doing the right thing where you are, wherever that happens to be. Glory is at the end, but like St. George, God doesn’t let you shortcut your way to glory. To get there, you must first go down into the valley and fight the dragon you were sent to fight: your own sin. You will be a conquerer, because Christ conquered it already for you.
Life is a story, a fairy tale; therefore, know that there is always a way to beat the wicked witch, always a way out of the evil forest, always a way to overcome the enchantment.
That way is almost always unexpected and difficult. Do the right thing, keep your head, and you’ll emerge with wisdom, which is true victory.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.– 1 Corinthians 10:13
Do your difficult duty, keep your head when life gets hard or scary, and remember God provides a way of escape if you keep your eyes open for it and are willing to take it.
I am not the hero in the tale.
We must submit to the master narrative rather than trying to tell our own hero tales. You are not the hero. I am not the hero. Christ is the Hero.
This means we must be familiar with God’s Story, which happens by rereading and rereading and rereading the Bible all our lives.
God’s in control of your character’s story line.
The testing of your faith develops steadfastness. Let steadfastness have its full effect. No story line happens without God’s fatherly intentions.
My son, life will be hard. But God is in control and is using those hardships to make you stronger and holier. That is better than an easy life where you stay soft and foolish. Always remember that everything, even the hard things, come from God’s fatherly hand. Trust Him.
My self, nothing comes into your day by chance. That means every cup of spilled milk, every disobedient fit, every interruption that keeps you from what you think you need to do is not a problem, but a gifted opportunity: an opportunity for you to glorify God in your receiving of it, or not.
Providence is the almighty and ever-present power of God by which He upholds, as with His hand, heaven and earth and all things and so rules them that … all things, in fact, come to us not by chance but from His fatherly hand.
God’s story will have a happy ending.
Life is God’s story; therefore, remember that God turns all things to a happy ending.
Don’t resist the happy ending by resisting reconciliation and repentance. The happy ending is God’s glory, not your own personal glory. You glorify Christ by not seeking your own way and then you receive glory when you are found in Christ.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28
My son, you do not reach a happy ending to your story by insisting the story go your way. You reach a happy ending by taking God’s way: by taking responsibility, admitting your fault, and being willing to make the difficult change toward righteousness.
My self, be humble enough to model repentance in your relationships. Be unselfish enough to stop your agenda to help the children through repentance and reconciliation with each other, over and over again, all day, every day. It’s more important than the dishes and the laundry.
So, this week see Christ as the hero of your story and seek to be a faithful servant, waiting for and participating in the happy ending he sends.
Every story has conflict, or it isn’t a story at all. There would be no St. George if there had not been a dragon. There would be no prince for Snow White if the witch hadn’t attempted to kill her first. There would be no present for Pooh Bear if there had been no flood to necessitate improvisation.
Conflict is central to every story. Conflict, internal and external, is your chance to obey and glorify God.
There was conflict before the Fall, before sin. The command created the possibility of conflict. The dragon created the temptation. Obedience was the call, though not the reality.
There was conflict after conflict in the life of Jesus. And with each one, He obeyed His Father’s will.
Life is a story where the question is our obedience to God.
This means that the most important question when something doesn’t go your way is what you yourself are going to do. It’s not about what other people should not have done or should have done or will do or won’t do. Your business is your own response.
Will you obey God and evidence fruit of the Spirit or will you pass the blame? Before you worry about making everyone else do what they are supposed to do, make sure you are doing what you are supposed to do.
My son, do not escalate an argument that you should be working out. Do not bring your disagreements disrespectfully if you wish to be heard. Always mind your own responses if someone else’s are bothering you.
Myself, misbehaving children is not an excuse for a misbehaving mother. Kindness, love, self-control: these are the responses you are called to, regardless of the situation.
Life is a story where the resolution is our glorifying God.
This means that all things work out not only for our good, but – more importantly – for God’s glory. Our obedience can be a part of that resolution, or our disobedience can increase the conflict that will still, eventually, work toward God’s resolution.
God is also glorified by bringing down the proud, by making sure sin finds you out, and other consequences He promises. It is preferable to glorify God through obedience than through becoming an object lesson; obedience pleases Him.
My son, if God is gracious to you, He will not let your sin remain hidden. The sooner it is repented of and made right, the better. Do not continue to walk in sins you think no one knows about. They tend to blow up in your face eventually. And blowing up in your face is still better than being allowed to slowly rot.
Myself, if God is gracious to you, He will not let your pride rule. This means you must be ready for humbling moments and humiliating episodes. Better to have pride taken down through small falls than to harden and strengthen your pride and store up a story of a high fall. God gives grace to the humble. Be humble, even with – especially with – the children; they see your weaknesses already anyway.
What if, instead of the ordinary lives and ordinary sins and ordinary graces, we were able to see ourselves and others in the terms God uses to describe them?
What if, instead of seeing an understandable outburst in irritation at the children, we saw it as murder? What if we felt a millstone going around our necks as we snapped at them?
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
What if, instead of sighing about feeding the children again, we saw it as feeding Jesus Himself again?
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
What if we were really able to visibly, truly perceive all the people around us as image bearers of God?
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. […] But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.– C.S. Lewis
Life is a story where the resolution is our enjoying God.
This means that it’s not primarily about our little stories. We enjoy God most when we step outside of concern for our plot lines. Enjoy God by enjoying His Creation, His provisions, His people.
My son, breathe the fresh air, feel the soft dirt, scrape yourself on the tallest tree. Enjoy God as you enjoy His world.
Myself, we enjoy God when we are in fellowship with Him (when we are not trying to hide sins) and in fellowship with others (not harboring resentment & bitterness). If you wish to enjoy God, seek to restore fellowship in your relationships every time it is broken.
Embrace the lines of the story
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.– Psalm 16:6
Story lines are important to follow, to pay attention to, to respond to in faith and trust. Psalm 16 was written by David, and he is calling his story line good and pleasant, because he is after God’s own heart, because he is responding in faith and obedience, because he wants God’s Story more than his own peace and comfort.
Did David have an easy life? Did things always go David’s way? Was David’s life always comfortable and luxurious?
No. So “pleasant” does not mean “nice and cozy” or “safe and easy.” It means the story line has put you on God’s side and made you a part of God’s work. Keep on His side, do His work, and that is a beautiful inheritance: glory.
David’s life was blessed, but it was not easy. Your life is blessed, but that doesn’t mean it will always be easy.
Life is a story of God’s blessing for His people.
This means that God gives you every bit of your story for your good and for His glory. Trust and believe. Respond in faith, patiently wait for the good God will work, and know that good comes when you repent of disobedience and walk in obedience.
My son, if you feel your story is going badly, look to how you can obey God in the bad situation. Watch good rise up from that.
Myself: crying children, messy counters, projects neglected are not marks of failure. Pray Psalm 16:6. The lines have fallen in pleasant places. They have. Obey God where you are and not where you think you should be.
Christ-like or Zeus-like?
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Anger – and all its forms (irritation, annoyance, resentment) – is what happens when your place as god, in control of the unfolding story, is threatened or usurped. When your god, your idol, is toppled, the response is anger. So anger is a signal that a god in your life has been threatened.
Jesus, on the other hand, when His right as Lord was usurped, did not grasp it, but was meek in submitting to the Father’s will. He had a right to assert His power, yet He said, “Thy will be done.”
God the Father’s wrath rightly falls on those who exalt themselves against Him: The serpent, Sodom & Gomorrah, the builders of Tower of Babel, Nebuchadnezzar, among others.
Jesus’ anger, expressed when He cleansed the temple and at times with the Pharisees, was an anger that was zealous for God’s place as God, and not for Himself.
God is God, and there is no other.
We, too, must be Christ-like: The only sort of righteous anger is that which is against those who blaspheme God. It is not hot against those who mess with our schedules, our clean house, our agenda.
If our anger lashes out when our own plans are disrupted – breakfast is spilled or burned, the children won’t cooperate, the light won’t turn green, the washing machine breaks – then it is a warning sign that we have exalted ourselves and our plans to be equal with God’s, a thing we are not supposed to grasp.
God controls all things.
We do not. If we assert our own control, and become angry or depressed when our plan doesn’t work out, then it demonstrates we have tried to seek equality with God, which not even Christ Himself did, though He actually possessed it (unlike us).
God controls all things.
All God’s plans come to fruition. Nothing happens apart from His will. That means that “all things come to us not by chance, but from His fatherly hand.” So we can be “patient when things go against us” and “for the future, have a bright hope.” (Heidelberg Catechism)
When our anger explodes (or we muffle it into irritation and annoyance and biting words), we are being Zeus-Like, not Christ-like.
We are instilling fear, taking hostage the situation, threatening to destroy the peace and joy if we don’t get our way. Do not be the thunderbolt of Zeus, flashing upon those who displease you.
Ask for the grace to imitate Christ, who did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but humbled Himself by becoming obedient.