With eleven grandchildren, getting time alone with one of them is akin to scheduling lunch with the president. At best I can narrow it down to two at a time. It’s as much my fault as theirs as I generally want to take ALL of them to whatever seems fun to do at the time which makes for much craziness and little quality conversation.
However, one sure way to narrow the crew down is to pick a girly movie and the boys will shudder and beg to stay home and play Wii. And so, The Princess and the Frog gave me the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time with my two seven-year-old granddaughters. I know a movie isn’t always considered quality time, but it can be. For one thing, both of them got to sit by me and both got to comment to me throughout the movie. That’s where the fun began—the precious thinking of a seven year old.
As in most movies, life for the leading lady in this movie begins with a challenge. She has spent her life struggling to work her way up in the world and has the opportunity to kiss a slimy frog with the hope of him becoming her handsome prince. But, the kiss only brings her more trouble –one look at her hand and she shrieks as she discovers she has joined him in the frog kingdom. As the prince and the leading lady hop their way through the perils that plaque tiny green creatures, my granddaughter, Aslyn, leaned over and whispered, “I know they will become people again.” To which I replied, “How do you know?” Without a moment’s hesitation she responded, “Because every princess story has a happy ending.”
My heart nearly stopped at those incredibly misguided, but hopeful words. I could hardly concentrate on the rest of the story as I thought of Princess Diana. I wonder if she began her fairy tale with Prince Charles confident of that promised happy ending. After all, all princess story have a happy ending, don’t they? As rumors of infidelity followed Diana’s prince, did she still think a happy ending was in her future? As the divorce became final, did she still see a ending of bliss? When the ill-fated car pulled into the busy street in Paris, did a happy ending play out in her mind? Oh that “happy” endings were the fate of all princesses!
Fairy tales and real life rarely match up. Recently, we spent ten weeks in England, roaming the countryside visiting castles and manors and palaces. The beauty of each structure was breathtaking, certainly as majestic as any Disney movie could reproduce. But the stories told of the Kings and Queens who reigned over their castles and kingdoms were not those depicted in a Disney movie. Happy endings were rarely their fate. In fact, it would be in one’s best interest to turn down an offer to become any part of royalty in those days.
So, where do we go for a happy ending? As an aging baby boomer, I have lived long enough to experience some very hard times. I have buried those that I loved and now miss every day; I have cried through broken marriages; I have sat by the bedside of those too sick to hold their head up. Death, divorce, and disease are not happy endings. You see, just as happy endings are not just reserved for princesses, neither are hard endings. I am far from being a princess. In fact, the only crown I have ever worn was when I was crowned basketball queen in 1971 at my high school. I admit that it was an honor and I felt very special, but that crown never could protect me from the fate my future life would hold.
The only crown ever worn that could protect me and YOU was the crown of thorns Jesus wore. Jesus chose to put on a crown that didn’t bring him any glory, that didn’t glitter, that didn’t shine—so that we could. There will be many days when you will doubt your place in this world. You’ll be in so much pain that you might consider the life of a frog a better choice. But, don’t despair. God’s only son came to earth to bear your pain and give you hope for a better tomorrow and one day, honestly, one day, you will be given a glorious crown of life.
“The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us.” Romans 8:31 The Message
I’m praying for you today as you face the challenges of real life. You don’t have to kiss a slimy frog to find your handsome prince. In fact, searching for happiness in the form of anything other than Jesus Christ will come up very short. The Prince of Peace, your handsome prince, is available to YOU anytime.
Archive for January, 2010
One day I came home to discover my grandkids washing their dog in my ice chest. Poor thing. It was wintertime and, even in the south, it’s too cold to run the water hose and wash a dog. Sadly, this creature was in desperate need of attention so he wasn’t complaining one bit. The dog was a white, longed-hair thing who at this pointed resembled your grandmother’s old mop hanging on the back porch. Definitely, the winter rains had not been kind to this dog as he was a collection of everything sticky and muddy. In fact, according to many folks on our street, it bordered on animal cruelty to NOT take him in and have him groomed. Finally, pity was taken on the dog and he was treated to a doggie-spa day.
Like most of us after a trip to the beauty shop, he returned a new man. His hair was short, he smelled good, and he walked with a strut. Hence the kids were now proud to play with this clean-smelling, clean-shaven pet instead of shunning him like Sunday’s left-overs. In reality, nothing really changed about the dog except his outside appearance. He was still the lovable dog he always was, who longed for a pat on the head and a belly rub.
What had changed was how we looked at him. Aren’t you glad you serve a God who loves you in spite of the way you look? If the winter months haven’t so kind to you either, God doesn’t care. And I’m not really talking about the dry skin or the fly-away hair that winter brings. I’m talking about some behaviors that you might have put on that aren’t too flattering on you right now. The good news is God sees past the mistakes you’ve made and right to your heart. God knows all of your hurts and hang-ups and loves you anyway. My grandkids were so excited to see a clean dog and, once clean, they loved playing with him. But our God’s love isn’t defined by outside appearance, He loves us just as we are and His loving grace continually cleans us with the blood of Jesus Christ.
I love how Romans 8:31 reads in The Message, “Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us bbecause Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”
Wow! How’s that for some comforting words. While a dirty dog might find himself in poor favor with the family, there is absolutely nothing you can do to drive God’s love away from you.
Just dwell on that today and you’ll have a better day!