Monday, May 10, 2010

The Fairy Tale of Reality

Years ago, when Nicholas and I first dated, we laughed about naming our first child “Theophilus” (from Luke 1:3 and Acts 1:1). We figured that would destine him to great things… that is, if he could remember what it was and how to say it, whether he could pronounce it, and if he could spell it. Can’t you just picture him as a four year old, saying: “My name is… ohh Mommy I foegot. Uh oh yeah Feopowis.” Poor little guy. His nickname would probably be “Awfulis”.Even if the name is a little tough, one thing he can look forward to is our stories. He’ll especially enjoy hearing his dad’s tales because Nicholas is a most hilarious story teller - complete with a multitude of wacky voices (with which he regales me as we drive around Texas for his job). And, because of me, he’ll know every fairy tale in existence and probably have a bedroom designed like a magical fort.
WE WILL teach our children fairy tales. And if we die before we can, we will write it into our will (“We bequeath our children to our father and mother. Please teach them to love God, provide them food, a roof over their heads, and read them fairy tales”.

I know a lot of people have problems with fairy tales. Some conservative Christians say that we should not teach our children about imaginary things or to think about mystical creatures. Some citizens of this world look with disgust on the idea of there being a loving God and say there is no fairy tale because it makes you believe in a happiness not there. But, WE WILL and no one will ever talk me out of this. I believe in the importance of fairy tales just as much, or more, as I believe in the importance of eating breakfast or putting gasoline in a car. It is just a fact of reality that cannot be shaken. And, the more I face pain and disappointments in life, or the more even well meaning Christians (who have downsized the power of God) try to get me to stop believing in God doing great things as the author of all hope and miracles, the more the reality of the fairy tale stands firm.

People, I can’t give it up because it’s the core of reality. Yes, the core of this reality we live in that, increasingly as we read in the headlines in our papers or face the stresses of life, seems so very non-fairy tale like. But the fairy tale is the awesome undercurrent of reality that breaks forth at the most unexpected times, sometimes as just a tiny glimmer of joy, but a glimmer nonetheless, that reminds us we are NOT destined ultimately for life under the curse. We are very much in the process of a fairy tale.

And this fairy tale is what is written into the hearts of every land. It is cross cultural, cross timelines, cross centuries. It is etched into the deepest corners of our souls for it is the lifeblood of the Gospel. The King who has redeemed the broken, turning the ashes of the least and littlest into a royal robe, bestowing on us a crown. It is the unexpected twist of brilliance, when the expected plot turns upside down, when the little guy wins against impossible odds. It is the overarching theme of Scripture.
The fairy tale doesn’t refute the absolute reality of pain and loss and heartache. No, the fairy tale confirms this reality. There can be no fairy tale without terrible evil. The princess and the scary worty nosed witch. The princess and the demoralizing curse. The princess and the wicked goblin. The princess and the evil fairy. The princess and the malevolent spell.

Yes, Virginia, there is evil, says the fairy tale. Yes, there are sometimes monsters hiding in your closet and bullies waiting to pull your hair when your teacher looks the other way. But there is also good. And, the Author of Good ALWAYS wins in the end. The fairy tale grants us the hope to continue to face the giants. It gives us the grace to turn our eyes up toward the one who rides upon the highest heavens as we make the decisions to keep fighting the goblins of unhealthy philosophies and mean girls and broken promises.

You can’t block out evil from your children. You can’t hope that your children will live in a perpetual state of innocence (which actually they have never known since this world lost its innocence in the Garden of Eden). But you can show them that goodness ultimately triumphs over evil. They can pursue holiness regardless of the loss of innocence in this world and they can cling to their knowledge that the good King, the King that Plato hints at whether he realizes it or not, that Good King will come. And in the meantime, we already are the Princesses that the Lord has sent His Prince to redeem. Christ has already broken through the thorny traps the evil queen placed in Sleeping Beauty’s prince’s path. He has already shattered their hold and stormed the gates of the castle, redeeming His bride and awakening us to our glorious inheritance.

And listen to this, our fairy tale we’re living in right at this moment is even greater than any fairy tale ever written or summed up in the heart and mind of humankind. Here is the really crazy amazing wonder… in our fairy tale, we were at fault. We weren’t just the innocent one who felt into a spell by mistake, not realizing the poison of our apple. We willingly reached out and ate that apple. We deserve the curse, we brought about the curse. Our reality is the fairy tale on steroids. It’s the prince coming in and redeeming the wicked witch and making her the princess of purity. Contemplate that for awhile. So we have two thoughts going here… that we are the princess brides protected by our saving prince who will battle all evil for us. And, that we are also the ugly stepsister who is redeemed into Cinderellaness. Two earth shattering realities woven into our Fairy Tale of Heavenly proportions.

Our children WILL learn fairy tales. Before they can even walk they will know their fairy tales. And they will learn to see reality with a fairy tale mind, understanding that, with God – the Fairy Tale Maker, the barren, broken, betrayed, and banished become the fruitful, whole, loved, and adopted. Yes, we will tell our children fairy tales.

Oh, and, none will be named Theophilus.