String of Pearls

Once upon a time, there was a pretty princess with golden curls that shined like sunrays, crystal blue eyes as deep as the sea, and a sparkling cherry pink dress. Around her neck, she wore a glimmering, colorful string of plastic pearls. She would put them on and twirl around the castle, cascading the colors of her pearls across the walls. She felt moments of prominence with them around her neck. At times, she caught glimpses of beauty in dim reflections around the castle walls. After the princess had worn the pearls for a long time, the dazzle started to fade. The plastic pearls became cloudy and even started to lose their shape. The princess was sad that the colors of her pearls did not radiate like they used to. As the pearls lost their luster, she felt less and less pretty. Then one day, the princess decided to stop twirling all together.

The princess had a very compassionate father, the King. One day the King noticed his daughter walking through the garden, looking awfully gloomy. He walked down the steps of the castle, knelt down by the bench she had sat down on, scooped her up in His big arms, and held her tightly. The princess explained how her pearls did not twinkle or glisten anymore. She expressed her broken heart and said she didn’t feel very pretty now that her pearls did not dazzle and shine. The King took her face in His hands and smiled. He asked her to give up her plastic pearls, close her eyes, and hold out her hands. The princess paused and was a little surprised at His request. She was hesitant to let go completely. Even though she wanted shiny new pearls, she was almost more afraid of having nothing at all. Why would He want her ugly, dull, colorless, and lifeless pearls anyway?

The King reassured His princess, His daughter, with His smile and His strong and tender arms embracing her warmly. Again He asked her to slip off her pearls from around her neck and place them in His hands. With big tears welling up in her eyes, she gently took off her pearls and gave them to her father, the King.
With a quivering lip, the princess closed her eyes and held out her hands, feeling the set of plastic pearls slip through her fingers and into the palm of her Father. The King took her old, ugly, dull, colorless, lifeless pearls and wounded heart, and replaced them. When the princess opened her eyes, she couldn’t believe what she was holding. In an instant, her Father had replaced those unattractive plastic pearls with a brand-new set of real, glittering, dazzling, and radiantly glorious pearls. The newly adorned princess confidently wore the authentic string of pearls around her neck. At once, the King took her hands, and together they whirled and twirled all over the castle. The radiantly glorious set of pearls never faded. The dazzle of those pearls around her neck only became more spectacular as the pretty princess grew and lived happily ever after in the Kingdom!

Nice story. Wouldn’t it be great if it were that easy? I don’t know about you, but I did not wake up this morning wearing a pretty cherry pink dress with my hair neatly placed in golden ringlets, sparkles on my cheeks, and a bag of fairy dust in my hand to twirl away magically all of my problems. No, this morning I blazed out of bed late in a gray hoodie, gray sweats, fuzzy slippers, and a head of hair that vaguely resembled a disheveled bird’s nest. My “castle” looks more like a three-bedroom rental house with toilets to clean and laundry to fold. There was breakfast to make, folders to sign, lunches to pack, diapers to change, coach man to kiss, kids to race to school, and black coffee swirled with hazelnut creamer to choke down. Real life for real folks is gritty and demanding. Fairy dust not included. “Fairy-tale faith” is a myth and a tragedy for those still thinking it exists. I don’t want to be a killjoy or antagonist, but I want to be honest. It is a journey and a battle to follow Christ. To stay with Christ. A great deal happens in life, and just sprinkling fairy dust over it won’t change a thing. Poverty exists. Families are split by addiction. The good die young. Stress chokes joy. Debt steals dreams, and fairy dust won’t help us fly away to never-never land.

However, there is a King who wants to see His daughters band together and start living lives full of His radiant beauty…and that yes, we ride off into the sunset to live happily ever after in the Kingdom. Don’t count out the fairy-tale idea so fast though; just read the description. No, life isn’t a fairy tale, but it can be a Truth tale. To make a proactive stride toward becoming all glorious within, we have to approach the Lord with childlike wonderment and fairy-tale eagerness. Even though death, sickness, and loss swirl around us every day and dash our hopes for fairy-tale living, I still want the romance of happily ever after. I want to be the Proverbs 31 woman who laughed at the days ahead: “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come” {Proverbs 31:25}. I have a favorite lime coffee mug with “LOL” etched in big white letters, and every time I pull it out of my cabinet, I think of the P31 woman who lived a real life and still made a choice to laugh out loud. To me, that is the equivalent of twirling. In a real life, I want to twirl, laugh, and live like a princess caught up in a beautiful tale. Like I said in the previous chapter, I want a real-life, gritty, sleeves rolled up, persuaded, convinced, situated, decidedly courageous, and gloriously beautiful tale of adventure and overcoming and victory. I want a real fairy-tale I can sink my teeth into.

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