Once upon a time in a faraway land. . . you know the drill. All started out beautifully, but somewhere a shift occurs. The hero or heroine meets their downfall. Orphaned. Framed. Lied about by enemies and antagonized by impossible odds. At the very least, there are loads of chores.
I recently watched Cinderella with my youngest sister and was reminded of the intrinsic satisfaction found in stories where a character moves through the depths of despair into the glamour of the final chapter.
A Little Princess. The Count of Monte Cristo. Ruth the Moabitess. Beauty and the Beast. Joseph in Egypt. Jane Eyre.
Amidst the rats in the attic, wicked stepsisters, and the deep pits or prisons — a kind heart, a desire for justice, a powerful mentor — something or someone causes them to rise above the ashes and soot to succeed in unlikely ways. By the end of the tale, everything is opposite of the beginning. Thanks to a prince, an enchantress, or some other climax — everyone falls into the rightful place at last. Evil conquered. Truth, love, and forgiveness win again.
Why do my favorite rags-to-riches stories feel like a nostalgic homecoming?
Perhaps because we’re wired to want a story of “surprised by wealth.”
In fact, believers can deeply identify with this story line. The overarching theme patterns after a greater redemption story. Our own story.
We go from nothing to everything.
We lived in the slums of sin without hope. Enemies were many, including God Himself. But while we were yet sinners and haters of Him, He loved us and purchased us through Jesus’ death and resurrection. So that whoever should believe in Him should not perish but have the gift of eternal life.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.2 Corinthians 8:9
In Ephesians 1, Paul doesn’t pray that we’ll HAVE riches, he prays that we’ll KNOW “the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.”
Paul also didn’t pray we would HAVE power, he prayed we would KNOW “what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.”
Astounding. All these incredible riches are ours from the moment we were adopted by our Father. This act makes us co-heirs with Christ, sealed by the Spirit.
We have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.Ephesians 1:11-12
It was all the best author’s idea and brings Him all the glory.
But wait, the best is even still yet to come.
“So that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:7)
In the book A Little Princess, Sara Crewe becomes an orphan, thrown to the mercy of a stern mistress of the boarding school. Sara’s father lost the family fortune to a failed diamond mine endeavor, so Sara is treated like dirt in that somehow this cruelty will repay the debts. Hungry and hurting, she has no hope of a better future. One day her attic room begins transforming into ritzy furniture, a blazing fire, warm breakfasts. She lives a scullery maid life, but her attic is a retreat, thanks to an anonymous kind friend. Sara is finally being treated like a princess, but it’s only the beginning. The palace treasures in her attic room are only a projection of her adoption and diamond-mine heiress life to come.
Our spiritual blessings on earth are complete, available, and lavish — but they’re only our beginning too! No eye has seen what awaits us in Heaven.
Living in that Reality
Even though we’ve been transferred from poverty to wealth, we often dawdle around like we have no clue we’re heirs and heiresses. Instead of accessing our blessings of being a child of the King, we live like a street beggar. On any given day we can choose the shipwrecked shack life instead of a joyful, spirit-filled heart.
The world entices us with the allurement of instant gratification, offering plenty of routes to fame and fortune. We stew about wondering how to get more followers and assets, wishing for a new car or dream vacation.
But the imperishable beauty of an eternal life stands close by.
How forgetful we are.
Like Paul, we can pray for each other that we would know the hope of our calling and the riches of the glory of His inheritance. The divine resources at our disposal must be first understood and then employed in our walk.
“In accordance with the working of the strength of His might” (Eph 1:19) it’s possible to live in what Brother Andrew would call “the royal way.” No need to beg, borrow, or steal what will only rust and decay.
Know where you came from. The prison of sin. Know where you are. The Kingdom of Light. Know where you’re going. A place where our full inheritance will be tasted.
To the praise of His glorious grace, sounding too good to be true, we’re already lavishly rich in Christ. Bask in the already-but-not-yet of our position in Christ, rejoicing in His provision of adoption and power. Enjoy the invisible gifts He equipped us with for today!