A Cinderella Story

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

When I was a little girl, my favorite fairy tale, hands down, was Cinderella. You remember: Cinderella spends her youth scrubbing floors and catering to the demands of her nasty stepmother and stepsisters. When an invitation comes to the prince’s ball, the privileged of the household go off to attend, leaving Cinderella alone and dejected. But the fairy godmother arrives in the nick of time, and with a wave of her wand, changes Cinderella’s clothing from itchy, woolen homespun rags into a dress of finest silk. Cinderella effortlessly wins the prince’s heart, but then must hurry out before midnight, leaving a glass slipper behind in her retreat.

You know the ending, of course: the prince uses the glass slipper to find his one true love again, and whisks Cinderella away to live as his princess happily ever after.

I used to pretend I was Cinderella. I wasn’t so hot on the housework part, but I did love catching the eye of the handsome prince. Wearing the ball gown ranked right up there as well. The transformation process of going from drab and needy to dramatically beautiful has great appeal for many of us. All of the makeover shows now playing, from fashion to homes, is evidence of this. We all love a good Cinderella story.

Assuredly, the best Cinderella story on record is the very real transformation that God has accomplished in us. We were destitute and without hope when He reached down and grasped us from the jaws of death. Like the father welcoming the prodigal son, He replaced our rags with the finest of robes, befitting of our new status as sons and daughters of the King.

Isaiah puts it this way: “My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10 NASB). We who were once alienated and hostile toward God now are presented as holy and blameless (Colossians 1:21-2 NASB).  He transformed us from being slaves of sin to the bride of Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB).

What an amazing transformation! In light of this, it is hard to understand how we so easily turn our backs on what God has given us, only to invest our time and energy on opposing interests!

Paul instructed the Christians in Colossae: “Consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed . . . Put aside anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth” (Colossians 3:5, 8 NASB) Instead, he urges: “Clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience . . . beyond all these things put on love” (Colossians 3:12, 14 NASB).

Too often, we exchange our new, costly garments for the old, scratchy sackcloth we discarded at our salvation. But we are new creatures! The old garment just doesn’t fit right anymore. It is certainly not befitting to our new title of prince or princess of the King.

Can you imagine if Cinderella, after marrying her prince, decided to shed her princess-befitting gowns of finest silk to don the old rags she wore as a scullery maid? The servants in the palace would think she had lost her mind. Why would anyone choose rags over the finest garments? Did she not understand that she was a princess now?

The angels think the same of us each time we choose our own agenda over the opportunity to participate in the Kingdom of Light. It is no less than absurd that we would ever willfully choose the old over the new, especially in light of what we have been given.

“Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering an a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. . . For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of the Light.”  Ephesians 5:1, 2, 8  NASB

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Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the author: Julie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Women, was published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Join the conversation: What is your favorite piece of the new wardrobe that God has given you?

Light the Way

by Julie Zine Coleman

He hadn’t even noticed his wallet was missing. Not until he answered a knock on his door. There stood a group of teenagers, holding it out in front of them. They’d found it at a nearby mall and used his driver’s license to locate him. Knowing it contained a newly cashed paycheck’s worth of bills, he could hardly believe such integrity. Not one dollar was missing. Grateful, he offered them a reward. They politely refused. They were just happy they had successfully reunited the wallet with its owner.

He had to know more. Why were they so honest? Who were they? The kids smiled shyly and told him they were Christians from a local church. Their integrity was a mere reflection of the One they followed.

The following Sunday, he came to church. He didn’t know much about God, but he knew whatever those teens had was something he wanted. It wasn’t long before he had given his life to the Savior as well.

Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 NASB). God uses our acts of love to make himself known.

God is all about revealing himself to the world. It’s always been his purpose. “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea,” God promised (Habakkuk 2:14 NASB). Paul tells us in Romans 1 that God first revealed his eternal power and divine nature with His creation. Next, He chose the family of Israel to reveal Him to the nations. Then the ultimate revelation came: Jesus Christ, “the radiance of [God’s] glory and the exact representation of His nature” (Hebrews 1:3, NASB).

And now, Paul tells us that “the manifold wisdom of God… [is now made] known through the church…” (Ephesians 3:10, NASB).

He has chosen US, the Church, to be the vessels through which He is revealing himself today! This serious responsibility has big implications for how we live.

I was recently confronted by an angry neighbor. He accused my sweet dog of something that was absolutely untrue. As I cringed under his bitter words, my instinct was to shoot right back with a hefty dose of reality. But before I could open my mouth, the Lord reminded me that I was there at that moment to represent Him.  A careful, loving response had the potential to show my neighbor Jesus in me.

What better way is there to reveal Christ in us than love? After all, it is just a reflection of the love God has already lavished on us. And there’s plenty of that to spread around.

Paul wrote: “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10 NASB). The world’s brand of love is often self-seeking and self-righteous. The kind of love we can offer (agape love) chooses the good of another over ourselves. It is as different from the world as light is from darkness.

My angry neighbor? After a quick prayer for the Lord’s strength, I bit my indignant tongue and responded to his anger with humility and grace. I hope that someday this unhappy man will put His trust in Christ. Maybe God will even use my decision to treat him with love to draw him in.

The world is stumbling around in darkness. God has called us to light the way for them.

“For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of light.” Ephesians 5:8

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the author: Julie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Womenwas published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Join the conversation: In what ways have you seen people respond to love?

Photo by Dollar Gill on Unsplash