Faith over Fear…

285

There is nothing to fear in life when God’s shoes are running alongside ours.

Fear wars inside all of us. For some, fear stems only as small as a slither of string and for others it branches larger than baskets of wool. But there comes a time in everyone’s life when the opportunity to face their fear and in turn find their faith becomes a reality.

I can still remember the day I braved one of my own fears, a fear which had long played twisted games on my heart. Since childhood the dark, regardless of dawn or dusk was never a pleasant memory of mine. It terrified me, distressed me, and even hindered me to keep a night light in my room until the age of twelve. However, it was one pencilled day in March that finally saw me surrender over this fear to God and in the process fully grasp His shoes were indeed much greater in size than my own. On an ordinary Tuesday night, I vividly vowed to overcome my weakness by scheduling in a very early run for the following morning, assuring myself that both darkness nor Satan were issues I never needed to be afraid of. Yet as Wednesday’s 6.oo am alarm blasted and my window blinds were pulled open, I looked onto see nothing but utter darkness sheathed the outside. No essence of daylight appeared in sight, in fact the sky itself looked as if was draped with a thick, black blanket only God could have had the materials and time to loosely thread.

With the bleak morning staring heavily down at me, immediately the enemy of fear returned. Endless negative thoughts began roaming through my mind, grabbing a forceful hold of my heart, preparing to tackle me to the ground and discourage me to see I was well and truly all alone. But as fears speech motioned in dizzy circles around me that’s also when the presence of Jesus came to my very rescue. His soothing and familiar voice echoed, ‘I’m with you, I’ll run with you, I’ll protect you’, powerfully defeating and eliminating fears faint and taint murmur away from me. Prompted and encouraged by 1 John 4:18, ‘There is no fear in love, instead perfect love drives out fear’, I inhaled a deep breath, slipped on my signature pink hoodie and pulled my laces tight, in that moment fathoming,

‘There is nothing to fear in life when Gods shoes are running alongside ours.’

With those freshly recited words I braced the frosty air outside, arose the volume to my iPod, and clicked ‘courageous’ by Casting Crowns. And as the first six words uttered themselves into my ears, (‘We were meant to be courageous’) I without a seconds thought departed my safe street and travelled towards a whole new suburb and outlook on life. The further I ran, the further fear distanced itself from my side, faith accompanying my journey instead. Nevertheless, the true beauty and purpose of this post was what occurred next. Only when making my way home did I capture a fiery sunrise vanishing feebly behind the canopy of gumtrees directly above from me. It was a sunrise far beyond ordinary, and one I had only wished my out dated iPod would have allowed me to cherish on camera. Orange engrossed the seas sky while specks of red, flickers of yellow and hints of gold wove themselves through the lively auburn screen. Gods fingers were printed all over it and no articulate artist could have sketched to life such a spiritual image even if they tried. It was created by just God and it was picture perfect.

From those tinted swirls of colour came a very powerful and positive message. This unique painting envisioned high in the sky illustrated how if we permit fear to control and smother our lives we will miss out on some golden and once in life time opportunities, experiences and deeply rare sunrises God wants to share up close and personally with each and every one of us.

We need to entrust our lives, our hopes, our dreams and our fears to God, for He is the only one who has what it takes to combat them. Surely if our whole hearts are placed protectively inside His very palms there is nothing in or out of this world that He cannot or will not protect us all from. God desires for us to place our burdens, fears and worries onto His almighty shoulders as scripted in 1 Peter 5:7, ‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.’

Fear through sin has been born unto each of us, but we have a choice in whether it destroys or restores us. We have faith running alongside us, promising to never leave and pleading with us to let go of fear and let God take control instead. There is a beautiful sunrise to awaken our eyes each morning, reminding us to take a chance, follow Jesus and leave all our fears and weaknesses in the dark, knowing there are rewards and blessings awaiting in sight when we step into the light.

Today is your day to surrender above all your fears, worries and distresses to God, for when you place your trust and hope in Him, fear no longer holds any power or authority over you. Have faith, put fear to rest and realise nothing will ever come between you and the maker of your very heart.

Isaiah 41:10, ‘So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.’

Image taken by author

©

What a night with Cinderella taught me… (Part Two)

6. You are not a ‘one slipper fits all’ creation…

The story narrated that ‘The slipper travelled the length and breadth of the kingdom, visiting every maiden both high and low, and every sort in between. But, whatever they tried the magical slipper refused to fit’. Just like Cinderella, you are not a ‘one slipper fits all’ creation. Shot after shot, displayed girl after girl hopelessly attempt and fail at fitting their size into the snug shoe. Desperate to be ‘the  match’, desperate for success and desperate to be a princess more so than ever loving the prince, saw the hearts and soles of many uselessly try to pour themselves into something that simply wasn’t theirs. Purely, when rescued from her attic tower and called into the prince’s presence once again, did the slipper without any haste or struggle slide effortlessly onto Cinderella’s foot.

To God, you are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ (Palms 139:14). You are cherished, respected, adored, loved, and have no need to impress Him by being someone else. Similar to the prince, God didn’t lose hope, quit the search or get misled, but instead looked high and low for your unique slipper size. All because He loved you and wanted to make you ‘His Princess Bride’.

7. Forgive your enemies…

Once winning the allotted shoe size and the prince’s heart, Cinderella still had one more task to fulfil before she was swept off to marry and crowned the kingdom’s newest royal. Leaving behind her beloved country home for the final time, one hand placed in Kit’s and the other clutched to her reunited slipper, Cinderella caught glance to her wicked stepmother silenced in misery on the staircase above her. With all the reasons in the world to hate and from all the words of vengeance to welcome and cast upon the soulless woman, Cinderella graciously opted with, ‘I forgive you’.

It was earlier discovered that both Ella and Lady Tremaine shared loss and grief in common, but what separated these two characters entirely were the ways in which they each handed their pain and viewed life’s meaning afterwards. Following the death of her first husband and who she called, ‘The love of her life’, Tremaine chose a life that resided in only bitterness, hate and envy. Whereas, Cinderella took a hold of the fond memories once shared with her parents and allowed them to positively shape her into someone sparking, ‘Courage and kindness’.

When life brings suffering, when enemies bring spite and when trials bring hardship, we all have a choice in how these moments define us! Will we resent life and the people inside when unhappiness is bought onto us, like the self-destructive stepmother? Or will we, like Cinderella, elect to gently forgive, confidently walk forward and not allow our unfortunate circumstances affect our chances at becoming worthy princesses, ones destined for greatness in God’s eyes.

8. The wicked will not go unpunished. The righteous will not go unnoticed…

Just as Proverbs 11:21 sounds, ‘Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free’. So it would seem that this authentic film concluded in the same way also. Finally discovered to be the ‘Mystery Princess’ from the ball, it stood revealed that ‘forgiven or not, Cinderella’s step mother and her daughters would soon leave with the Grand Duke and never step foot in the kingdom again’. While their banishment and punishment continued outside the land, Cinderella’s righteousness did not go unnoticed, grandly permitted the freedom to live her life in peace and happiness once more, home becoming known as the Palace, and endlessly loved for all her days by the new king as well as the entire nation. God certainly knew how to end a worthy story when He scripted, ‘the desire of the righteous ends only in good, but the hope of the wicked only in wrath’. (Proverbs 11:23)

9. Names have power, like magic spells…

Cinderella’s difference in attitude, in character and in her cheerful approach to life, despite its privations, is what ultimately changed not just hers or the prince’s world, but also the world in which they both lived and later reigned. The film’s final scene saw a newly married Kit and Ella appearing happily on the palace’s flowering balcony before sealing their love with a sweet kiss, much to the crowd’s excitement as they watched and joyously applauded from below. And while they waved to the hearty crowd, viewers learned that the all smiles royal couple, ‘Would come to live to be the fairest and kindest rulers the kingdom had ever known. And Ella continued to see the world not as it is, but as it could be, if only you believe in courage and kindness and occasionally just a little bit of magic’.

Equivalent to Cinderella, we also have potential to transform this modern world for the better, merely by the conducts we live, act, speak and think by. Sometimes just stepping away from the world’s rules is the only way much needed change can be made. We were not created by God to live in the solitude of darkness, but to bask in the radiance of light. Our mission and service on this earth is to have hope, be hope and spread hope. Your name holds the supremacy to revolutionise our world, so why not start placing it out there? Names have power, like magic spells’. Just ask Cinderella.

10. Forget a Fairy Godmother. We have God!!!

The fairy godmother was certainly the one responsible for turning Cinder-Ella into Princess Ella. And although at first envious of her story (plus her blue dress), I quickly seized we have something far more majestic alongside us than any delightful wand. Because of JESUS, our tattered rags have been adapted into radiant ball gowns, our names once identified as sinners have risen to become, ‘children of God’, and our lives have changed from ash to gold, going from nothing to everything. We have each received worthy invitations not to the Royal Palace Ball, but to the Kingdom of Heaven, a place no spell’s power will ever see break God’s proposed timeframe of forever. No longer are we retched servant girls but majestic future queens, destined for extraordinary purposes, intended for perfect peace and paradise and meant for eternity spent with the ‘King of Kings’ and ‘Lord of Lords’. Such as a princess at the ball, so too can we stand tall with our heads and spirits held high, knowing our all-powerful and all loving God will, unlike the fairy godmother, never depart our sides in life when the job seems done.

My night with Cinderella was definitely a moment in time I’ll cherish forever. Ella’s courage is what her set her free from servant hood, her kindness is what charmed the prince, and her belief in a tiny bit of magic is what eventually led her to reign as queen. Sometimes all it takes is one person, if it’s the right person, to influence a nation and inspire a whole new generation to, ‘Have Courage and Be Kind’, despite the circumstance. Cinderella didn’t just leave behind a legacy for her storybook kingdom to follow, but also educated all who observed her onscreen story to eventually walk out those theatre doors with a fresh outlook on life, love, faith, hope, and magic! Just like the words, ‘Have courage and be kind’ carried Ella, ‘Through all the trials that life can offer’, I believe the scripture, ‘Love God and love others’ also holds the unique power to transform broken lives, renew our distorted world, and see those of us who believe in salvation’s gift, ultimately enter through the gates of Heaven. Where Happily Forever After truly begins!

(Note: All quotes in italic blue belong to the 2015 Cinderella film.)

Image taken by author

©

What a night with Cinderella taught me… (Part One)

When my friends and I tuned into see the seven pm screening of Disney’s newly released, and highly anticipated live-action version of Cinderella one Saturday night, I couldn’t help but hear the whispered words, ‘You’re in for a sweet treat’ echo inside me before the film’s magic had even commenced. And my, did the whisper later spell true! From the charming script, to the glass slipper pumps, I stayed enthralled by how real and faithful the story accredited the original ‘1950s’ classic. But what I didn’t expect to grasp from this timeless tale were the very themes, values, morals and countless Christian similarities whirled in and around this modern remake. Reaching home just before the stroke of midnight (literally), I began bringing this post to life as inspiration from the motion picture filled my soul and mind in more ways than known numbers. So, without further ado allow me to share ten memorable lessons a night with Cinderella taught me, ones I hope go onto encourage you also!  

1. You sow what you reap…

Throughout her 140 minutes of feature film, Cinderella depicted the ‘Reap what you sow’ scripture on numerous occasions, but a vast majority of the motto existed in the magical moments leading up to the grand ball. After descending the stairwell in her late mother’s dress, Cinderella desperately attempted to accompany her stepmother and stepsister’s to the Prince’s ball, only to be left shattered within seconds by the cruelty of all their calloused hearts as they brutally destroyed her pink satin gown to pieces and fiercely marked, You shall not go to the ball’.

When the trio departed, a left behind Cinderella, shunned from the party and the family’s presence sought out refuge and heartache in the midst of her garden. Although teary-eyed and humiliated, Ella soon found her kindred spirit put to the ultimate test when she encountered an old beggar woman.

‘Can you help me miss, just a little crust of bread or a cup of milk’, the beggar gently asked while she peering into the sobbing  maiden’s eyes.

‘Yes, I think I can find something for you’, Cinderella responded as she shed her remaining tears and selflessly abandoned her own grief and agony, all so she could fulfil the mysterious woman’s one wish.

‘A bowl of milk’ was all Cinderella grasped from her small, yet noble offering, to which the secretive outsider answered, ‘What is a bowl of milk? Nothing, But kindness makes it everything’.

With no time to waste and the help of a magic wand at hand, goodness proved its power and the mendicant in reality revealed to be a fairy godmother, equipped to reciprocate kindness and change Cinderella’s misfortunes, forever. The trailers voiceover, ‘Where there is goodness, there is magic’ came alive in this spectacular scene as a home-grown pumpkin merged into a golden carriage, a pink tattered dress swirled into the iconic, dreamy blue gown from the famous animation and a pair of worn-out flats altered themselves into cheeky glass slippers, ones which later held the very authority to elect Cinderella’s fairy-tale fate and Happily Ever After. In this favourable part I instantly became reminded of Proverbs 19:17, ‘He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord and he will reward him for what he has done’. Cinderella’s warmth was rewarded in far greater ways than she what she could have ever dazed to dream or imagine, and just like her fairy godmother, our God does not oversee the kindness and goodness we choose to freely bestow on others, especially those in need of our aid the most. God is rich in love, faith and mercy, and He will set out to bless us a thousand times over from the original seed we sowed and nurtured.

2. Enjoy the moment!!!

When her pumpkin coach arrived fashionably late outside the palace steps, Cinderella, who resembled every inch the fairy-tale on the outside, soon failed to feel the same on the inside, realising that underneath all the frills and fairy dust she was still her ordinary self.

‘I’m frightened…I’m only a girl, not a princess’, Ella whispered aloud as she stared up at the tower of steps resting ahead.

‘And I’m only a lizard, not a footman. Enjoy it while it lasts’, replied the former reptile, now transformed entourage (thanks to a little magic earlier) after he overheard his friend’s voice crackle with self-doubt. In that moment, the lizard footman encouraged Ella to appreciate the fact that miracles don’t happen every day, nor to everyone, and she should relish the opportunity given rather than worry about all the little details.

Cheered on by the wise words, Cinderella smiled and carried herself with poise up the awaited staircase and through the castles furnished halls before she finally overlooked the marble ballroom suited below. It was then and there that she stole not just the prince’s attention, but all the guest’s in attendance as well. Ella had no idea what the evening would go onto hold. She never imagined meeting the prince, let alone falling head over heels in love with him. But, she believed in, ‘Courage, kindness and occasionally just a little bit of magic’ and was determined to seek the most out of the once in a lifetime chance she was generously granted. Instead of questioning His plans and blessings, God wants us to enjoy and make the most out of every good moment offered when the appointed time comes.

3. Inner beauty needs no magic…

Even after endearing a dramatic new makeover, it seemed nearly impossible to fathom how Cinderella was still blissfully and remarkably unaware of what her natural beauty had soared onto become. My favourite lines of all in this spellbinding story occurred as the picture perfect couple twirled affectionately about the ballroom, while an array of vibrantly dressed guests encircled their memorable first dance together. Catching a glimpse to all the envied gazes fixated upon them, Cinderella uttered to Kit (aka Prince Charming), ‘They’re all looking at you’.

Although Ella’s external appearance had in every way transformed into the angelic princess her fairy godmother must have strategically envisioned, her humble and honest heart had on the other hand gone unscathed by the magic wand. You see, there was no need for any magic on Ella’s soul; it was alluring all on its own, but the enchanting makeover did give the audience, prince and kingdom a chance to see this young maiden’s outer appearance finally reflect the exact beauty she so sacredly carried inside. And let’s not forget the prince’s part in this priceless scene either, for he too proved just as genuine and wonderful as he quickly rushed to correct Ella’s words.

‘Believe me. They’re all looking at you’, Kit poetically responded as he captivated most of the ladies hearts in the audience while saying so. (Well my heart at least!) Cinderella’s shift from rags to riches was not about changing who you are to conform or fit in, but instead about giving your beautiful soul a chance to shine through for the world’s eyes to see.

4. Gentlemen are the real Prince Charming’s

Intrigued by her natural beauty, but more so by her fearsome and courageous approach to stand up for what’s right and treat everyone with kindness, Kit saw Cinderella for who she truly was.

‘She was a pretty girl, but there was so much more to her’, the prince passionately expressed to his father moments after he met the fascinating maiden while riding in the woods. Once acquainted again at the ball and shortly after sharing an unforgettable dance, Kit took a hold of Ella’s hand and murmured, ‘Come with me’, as he ushered her away from the party room of wondering eyes. But instead of whisking her off to the quarter chambers of his bedroom, the gentle and respectful prince romantically escorted the young lady to his secret and sacred garden.

I’ve never shown this place to anyone’, Kit sweetly revealed as he openly shared his hidden sanctuary with Ella. As Cinderella sat on his charming swing (one surprisingly big enough for her in her huge dress to fit perfectly on), the couple talked, smiled and let their award-winning chemistry fly free for all to see. And no such lust or impureness had to even evolve for their feelings of affection to naturally grow. The prince certainly gave today’s modern men a figure to finally admire and aspire to be like, illustrating how it doesn’t nor shouldn’t yield men any effort at all to treat women with tenderness, warmth and respect. There are existent princes inside this world and in our generation who will enjoy opening up the secret gardens of their heart’s to us and allowing love to flourish beautifully in God’s own perfect timing.

5. Ladies, let him pursue you…

Before gaining the chance to reveal her true identity, the kingdom’s clock chimed 11:59, and a mesmerised Cinderella quickly began to flee both the prince and palace grounds, not on her own terms but on the spells. Nevertheless, the prince, infatuated by the mysterious maiden and not yet ready to end their momentous date (at least without a name), opted to swiftly chase the blue ball gown back through the garden’s lit up path, via the crowded ballroom, and down the open-aired steps. Though Cinderella and her chariot managed to immerse the scene before, ‘All would return to what it was’, needless to say the same went for one of her glass shoe’s, fatefully becoming left behind on the footsteps after slipping loose during the hurried escape. As the prince swept the fragile slipper into his hands, he summoned both the Captain and the Grand Duke to try and stop the horse-drawn carriage before it dispersed late into the night.

‘You had to go and choose that one didn’t you?’ The Captain ironically asked Kit before he bolted to embark on the great pumpkin coach chase.

‘Yes I did’, Kit answered with a smile he couldn’t wipe free from his face as he remained behind with the beautiful shoe still perfectly intact.

A chanced upon meeting in the forest and a few limited hours at the ball was all it took for the prince to realise Cinderella was the one for him and worth the ultimate pursuit. Even after his guard’s firmly reported that the girl at the ball had indeed vanished, the prince still refused to give up hope.

‘I have to see her again’, Kit stated before he sent forth his men to, ‘Spare no effort’ while they searched the entire land for the nameless beauty. Ladies, that’s what pursuit should look like. Had Cinderella taken the risk and claimed a hold of her slipper, she never would have discovered how much the prince loved and wanted her, nor would she have gone onto become the people’s princess. Why not wish this same kind of pursuit on ourselves? Why not Dare to dream’, and endeavour to see that we are precious rubies, well worth being pursued, desired, treasured, and loved. Trust me, if he’s Prince Charming it will be worth leaving your new shoes behind.’

(Note: All quotes in italic blue belong to the 2015 Cinderella film.)  

Image taken by author

©