Lisa Harper’s new (and first ever) devotional, LIFE: An Obsessively Grateful, Undone by Jesus, Genuinely Happy, and Not Faking it Through the Hard Stuff Kind of 100-Day Devotional, released earlier this week. Today we’re sharing an excerpt from this new 100 day devotional. Order your copy here.
When the Slipper Doesn’t Fit
I adorned you with jewelry, putting bracelets on your wrists and a necklace around your neck. I put a ring in your nose, earrings on your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head. So you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was made of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour, honey, and oil. You became extremely beautiful and attained royalty. Your fame spread among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through my splendor, which I had bestowed on you. This is the declaration of the Lord God. Ezekiel 16:11–14
I was chatting with a Southern belle friend of mine recently over coffee about the concept of human depravity—about how our ships are so totally sunk apart from the transformational power of God’s grace. After a while, she sighed heavily and then mused dreamily, “The Gospel reminds me of the Cinderella story.” She went on to explain how she thought humanity was like Cinderella, and Jesus was like the divine prince.
I don’t remember how I responded verbatim; I think I just hemmed and hawed a bit and then changed the subject. But her innocent observation rubbed the fur of my heart in the wrong direction and I kept mulling over it after we said goodbye . . . until eventually the source of my angst hit me.
Here’s the deal: if you’ve read the book or rented the movie, you know that Cinderella deserved the prince. She was gorgeous, she was personable, she had a strong work ethic, and she was kind to animals (who in their right mind is nice to mice living in their clothes and bed and eating all their hard-earned Gouda cheese?). Not to mention that voice. Furthermore, the fact that she was used and abused by her soap-opera version of a stepfamily made her a very sympathetic character. So when the glass slipper fits and the fairytale concludes with happily ever after, we can turn the proverbial page with happy satisfaction because good triumphed over evil and sweet Cindy earned the title of princess, right?
But that’s not at all what happens in the Gospel. In God’s true story, the ugly, horrible, abusive stepsister gets to marry King Jesus. He picks the chick wearing that hideous, wide-striped polyester dress. The awkward, snarky girl with a huge, hairy mole on her chin. Not to mention her self-centered heart. I mean, come on. She’s the girl who locked her sister in a tower in order to get ahead! She’s horrible to animals! And she can’t sing a note! Everyone at the ball is dumbfounded when he gallantly strides across the dance floor, extends his hand and asks her to join him for the waltz. I can just hear the ladies muffling under their breath to each other, behind their fans. Um, looks like the royals have seriously lowered their standards. But right there, in front of that shell-shocked crowd, the ugly stepsister becomes beautiful in the adoring, undeserved gaze of the handsome prince. It’s not a fairy godmother who bedecks her. It’s the Prince. His love transforms her—and not just with a designer outfit. But from the inside out. The Prince transforms her into everything we thought she could never be. He takes her record of selfishness (and almost unforgivable tone-deafness) and pays for it himself, and then clothes her in honor and splendor. She didn’t earn a thing!
That’s the divine love story we’ve been written into. We were once the ugly stepsister, you and me. That’s who we were. But now we’re royalty. That’s who we are now. All made possible by the One, true, perfectly and powerful King who picked the worst of us out of a crowd and made us His very own.
- If you could actually see Jesus gazing at you with undisguised affection, do you think you’d bask in His love or look away?
- Why is it a little offensive, at first, to consider yourself as the stepsister in this scenario? Why is it also a little freeing?
- You know Jesus saved you, but do you also believe He can transform you—even now? What makes you forget this sometimes?
Lisa Harper is an engaging, hilarious communicator as well as an authentic and substantive Bible teacher that many enjoy hearing in person, or on countless TV and radio platforms. She holds a Master of Theological Studies from Covenant Seminary, and a doctorate-in-progress at Denver Seminary. She’s been in vocational ministry for thirty years and has written nineteen books and Bible study curriculums but says her greatest accomplishment by far is becoming Missy’s (her adopted daughter from Haiti) mama! They live on a hilly farmette south of Nashville, Tennessee, where they enjoy eating copious amounts of chips, queso, and guacamole.