Packing Up the Tiara

There I sat, cuddling my oldest daughter as she sobbed disappointed tears into her pillow.  Sitting in the minivan that night as we drove home, she had suddenly realized that God wasn’t going to make her a fairy tale princess when she grows up.

Her little life dream had been dashed.

After her sad announcement, my husband tried to shout back persuasive logic to her from the front seat, explaining that princesses don’t really live such great lives.  They can’t choose where to go, what to eat, how to dress, or even who to marry.

Somehow the lack of freedom was overshadowed by Disney ballgowns, glass slippers and tiaras.  And so after the pajamas were on, the teeth brushed, the prayers prayed, there we sat in her bed and she cried and we talked about feeling disappointed.

How life doesn’t always turn out the way we expect.
How sometimes we can’t have what we really want.
How movies and fairy tales rarely represent the reality of life.
How it’s hard to trust God when He tells us, “no,” but that we need to leave our future in His hands.
How our job is to work hard to develop the gifts He’s given and His job is to direct and guide our service.

No matter how you chat and philosophize sometimes, though, disappointment hurts.  For a while, we can hope that despite all odds, God is going to miraculously give us what our hearts desire.

But it doesn’t always happen that way and that’s the truth.

Sometimes God says, “no.”  He may do it so gently and with grace, and it’s not because He hates us or wants to see us sob ugly tears on our pillows.

In most cases, He does it for the same reason I tell my child “no” she can’t wear her favorite skirt that is now too short for her, “no” she can’t have cookies and milk at 5:30 p.m. as I’m dishing up dinner on the table, “no” she can’t watch that movie even if her friends have all seen it, “no” she can’t have a cellphone and laptop for first grade.  “No” is for people we love enough to protect.

Then there are other cases where the “no” is so He can be glorified and our faith refined.  In Beth Moore’s study, Daniel, she notes that there are always three scenarios:

  • God delivers us from the fire.
  • God delivers us through the fire.
  • God delivers us by the fire into His arms.

For the three men who refused to bow down to the towering image of King Nebuchadnezzar, there was no question of whether God could keep them out of the furnace that was blazing in front of them.  They declared:

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.

They had to go through the fire, but Christ showed up in all His magnificent glory and walked them right on out of there.  God said, “no, I won’t deliver you from the fire, but I’ll take you through.”

For others of you, God has said, “no” and it’s not clear why.  Maybe we’ll never know the reason this side of eternity.  You can’t see how this is protection.  You can’t see how He is being glorified.  Maybe it’s disappointing, this waiting for the healing or rescue that doesn’t ever seem to come.

Have you ever wondered how Stephen did it, the first martyr in the church, the first one to take stand up for Christ to the death?  Were he and his friends disappointed that God didn’t rescue him from the riotous Sanhedrin?  Were they waiting for the earth to open up and swallow the mob now raising their stones in murderous rage?

How disappointed and confused did they feel as God didn’t deliver Stephen from or through the onslaught of rocks, but instead delivered him home to heaven?  There was no last-minute rescue or miraculous intervention.

Acts 7:6-7 says:

At that point they went wild, a rioting mob of catcalls and whistles and invective. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, hardly noticed—he only had eyes for God, whom he saw in all his glory with Jesus standing at his side. He said, “Oh! I see heaven wide open and the Son of Man standing at God’s side!” (MSG).

Stephen “hardly noticed” the deafening noise of those about to kill him because “he only had eyes for God.”

Whatever disappointments we face, a fairy tale dream that never came true, a furnace God asks us to walk through, a definitive “no” instead of miraculous intervention, we are victorious by “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2).  Just like Stephen.  Just like Jesus Himself looked to His Father as He suffered painfully on the cross for our sake.

We’re not looking at the enemy, the storm or the overwhelming circumstances.  We’re not looking at the hoped-for miracle or the anticipated rescue.  We’re looking at Jesus “standing at God’s side,” knowing that even when God chooses not to give us what we want or hope for, He never leaves nor forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5).

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

Explaining a Mystery

A neon green Post-It note appeared on my counter this morning.  On it is sketched a smiling girl in a floor-length dress and matching cape, a three-spiked crown on her head and long, flowing, hair pulled into a ponytail.  The note reads, “I am gong to be a prinsess wun I groe up.”

Clearly the work of my oldest daughter.

Princess fever runs high in my house.  Recently, my two older girls had their first true playdate when a good friend visited our house.  Within moments, all three tiny ladies had stripped their outer garments and were frantically donning ball gowns and slipping into plastic high-heeled shoes that clicked on the kitchen linoleum (and scared me to death for fear they might slip!).  They adorned themselves with long beady necklaces and bangles around their wrists.  Atop each head sat a sparkly princess tiara complete with pink hearts and diamonds.  Grabbing purses and mirrors and other accessories, these stylish princesses sat daintily around a little table and sipped tea and lemonade from tiny plastic teacups, of course holding their pinkies out like all true princesses do.

This is a mystery to me.

I did not twirl around in princess skirts as a girl, decking myself out in finery to await the prince’s arrival.  I did not host tea parties for my teddy bears or clip-clop around the house in deadly high-heeled shoes as a child (or as a grown woman).  Nor did I set out to turn my three daughters into pink-and-purple-loving, dress-wearing, nail-polishing lovers of all things fancy, sparkly and feminine.  This has somehow been innately placed into their tiny hearts by a God with a sense of humor.

My daughters arrive at my feet some days with dresses from my closet hanging over their arms.  “Mom, why don’t you ever wear this dress?  It would make you look pretty.”  Because of course the most appropriate attire for folding clothes and cleaning toilets is in fact a black dress with a swirly skirt.

Frequently, my oldest princess wannabe—with some exasperation—explains to me that she simply cannot wear pants because “pants are for boys.  Princesses don’t wear pants.”  At which point, I look down at my jeans and sneakers and trudge back to her room to exchange her playclothes for a dress and stockings.

And so I am a mystery to them.

Sometimes I look deep into their flashing blue eyes and explain to these precious girls that they will always be amazingly beautiful on the outside, but what is so much more important is the inside of their hearts and how they love God and love people.  I say this to them because I know “charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30, NIV).

I want them to know that they are not merely external creatures, striving to meet arbitrary standards of perfection.  Instead, I tell them “let not yours be the merely external adorning of the hair; the wearing of jewelry, or change of clothes, but let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which is not anxious or wrought up, but is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:3-4, AMP).

And while I so often fail to display for them a “gentle and peaceful spirit” that isn’t anxious (read here stressed and freaking out), it is nevertheless my true desire to show them a woman who is at least trying to be “very precious in the sight of God.”

This is the mystery I explain to them.

When my oldest girl prayed her little earnest plea for Jesus to come into her heart and forgive her sins, we told her the most amazing thing had happened to her.  She had become a daughter of the King of kings.  “Do you know what that means?,” I whispered into her ear.  Slowly I could see her piece it all together and she announced with pride, “I’m a real princess now!”

She takes that very seriously.  To her friends, she explains, “I’m not a pretend princess like the ones in the movies.  I’m a real princess of God.”

It’s an amazing gift—this role as princess.  It means she is dearly loved and given a place of blessing and honor by the holy and awesome King who watches her with love.

It’s also an amazing responsibility.

A princess is kind to others (and talking animals) and always serves and shows concern for the feelings and well-being of those around her.  A princess works hard at her chores and doesn’t shirk dirty work (like caring for seven men who sweat all day in a mine while whistling). A princess develops and uses her gifts to bring glory to her King (like singing songs in the forest and reading books from an enchanted library).  A princess is beautiful inside and out and always strives to find the good and beautiful in others (including beasts and little old women).  A princess has good manners and is modest and virtuous, with beauty of character and strength of mind.

These are the mysteries they explain to me.

We princesses and daughters of the Most High King don’t all emerge from our houses each day with long, flowing hair, pink ballgowns, glass slippers, and multi-colored accessories.  Some of us head to work in power suits or rock sick babies in our pajamas or shop at Wal-Mart in our jeans and flip-flops.

God’s creativity knows no bounds and we are a daily display to the world of God’s heart for beauty and variety.

Yet, to all of us, He can say, “The King is enthralled with your beauty; honor Him, for He is your Lord” (Psalm 45:11, NIV).

That is a gift.  It’s a special role He’s given us, to reflect His aesthetic flare, to represent grace and beauty to a world that is sometimes so harsh and cruel.

But it’s also a responsibility.  We are to “honor Him” for He is our Lord.  I ask my daughters at times, “Would a princess behave that way?  Would a princess hurt someone else’s feelings?  Would a princess say those mean things?”  And so we can ask ourselves, “Would a Daughter of the King make those choices, use those words, hurt those people . . . ”

There are detractors of course.  Those who try to convince us that we simply fall too short of God’s standard to be a princess.  Others who point to our outward appearance and question our unique beauty.  A world that constantly reminds us we are not enough.

However we are dressed, no matter our outward appearance and regardless of our hairstyle, God draws us close and whispers truth into our hearts: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3, NIV).  Uniquely created by a God of infinite imagination.  Specially designed to be loved by a King.

This is the mystery He explains to us.

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King