In recent weeks, following the publication of the book, The Fairy Tale Parables, I have on several occasions been asked if the book was written for children.
Honestly, it is written so that children of all ages can enjoy and be moved by it. But those for whom it is really written are those of us among the grown up population who have found ourselves entertaining suspicions that we’re somehow underestimating the marvelous wonder of living in God’s Kingdom. Not a make-believe kingdom where all our dreams come true, but a true one that is as much superior to our dreams as we think our dreams are to our circumstances.
I love the wonder and delight of fairy tales. I love their tendency to honestly acknowledge hardship, wickedness, and evil. And I especially love their soothing encouragements to not give up, but to hold on tenaciously to hope.
In a world that is overrun by cynicism, condescension, and political correctness, we as adults need fairy tales far more than the children to whom we tell them. For children, the world still holds amazing mysteries and awe-inspiring miracles. But somehow and somewhere along the long, hard trail of growing up, we decide that fairy tales are for the young, the simple, the ignorant, or the naïve. Perhaps this departure from our capacity to be inspired and moved with awe is the reason that Jesus remarks in Matthew 18:3 “…I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
And just where in the world did we come up with the notion that fairy tales are untrue? Perhaps they’re not historically factual, but don’t write fairy tales off as untrue: they have an uncanny knack of telling us the truth about human nature when we’re not inclined to listen to truth through any other medium without becoming angry. Fairy tales honestly deal with such things as sorrow, joy, cruelty, and courage. They are therefore better “truth-tellers” than any history book or social commentary.
Of course, if our minds are increasingly divorced from God’s Word (the Bible), and our hearts choose to fly free like wild swans until they’re finally enmeshed in nets of self-destruction, fairy tales can be diabolical weapons in the hands of the “wicked witches” of selfishness and pride or the “angry trolls” of bitterness and despair. As such, they can blur our capacity to appreciate that which is truly deserving of our love and devotion, the Lord Jesus Himself. If hearts disconnected from God tell our stories, then the stories will slander God and puff up our own illusions of greatness and self-sufficiency.
So, in my venture to retell some of our most beloved fairy tales, the goal is simply to tell the tales as they should perhaps have been told and hopefully kindle and rekindle our delight in the mystery of God’s love and truth.
Whether I am even slightly successful or not, I really don’t know. What I DO know, however, is that we as God’s children were created and redeemed so that we might find our delight in God. There are unimaginable treasures of joy, victory, and peace buried in the islands that we call life’s experiences. There are dragons to be slain, damsels (and dudes) in distress in desperate need of deliverance. There are feasts spread out in the banquet halls of fellowship with God and other Christians that are just waiting to be enjoyed by those who will dare start out on the great adventure of truly walking with the Lord. There are giants to be defeated, wolves to be “un-fleeced”, and beanstalks just waiting to be climbed to new heights of experiencing God. In fact, so glorious and so wonderful are the things in store for believers that words cannot truly capture them. We only know that they are there ahead in the road, just beyond the gates of “Once upon a time….”
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12 NIV).