My husband and I went to Disney World in March 2008. We flew to Orlando for a nephew's wedding and then joined our son's family for two days at Disney World.
We arrived the first day and went straight to Cinderella's castle. In the courtyard we encountered the step-mother, two step-sisters and then Cinderella. Each one signed autographs and spoke with the children who came up to them.
My two little granddaughters were enthralled. They gazed at Cinderella, and I don't know exactly what they were thinking but I can imagine! One of their all-time favorite stories is the Disney story of Cinderella with its beautiful pictures. It's the same book I read to their daddy and uncle so it's well loved!
A few weeks ago at Joni Camp I heard a beautiful Cinderella story. Max Lucado tells this story in his book, A Gentle Thunder.
My friend Kenny took his family to Disney World. He and his family were inside Cinderella's castle. It was packed with kids and parents. Suddenly all the children rushed to one side. Had it been a boat, the castle would have tipped over.
Cinderella had entered. Cinderella. The pristine princess. Kenny said she was perfectly typecast. A gorgeous young girl with each hair in place, flawless skin, and a beaming smile. She stood waist-deep in a garden of kids, each wanting to touch and be touched.
For some reason Kenny turned and looked toward the other side of the castle. It was now vacant except for a boy maybe seven or eight years old. His age was hard to determine because of the disfigurement of his body. Dwarfed in height, face deformed, he stood watching quietly and wistfully, holding the hand of an older brother.
Don't you know what he wanted? He wanted to be with the children. He longed to be in the middle of the kids reaching for Cinderella, calling her name. But can't you feel his fear, fear of yet another rejection? Fear of being taunted again, mocked again?
Don't you wish Cinderella would go to him? Guess what? She did!
She noticed the little boy. She immediately began walking in his direction. Politely but firmly inching through the crowd of children, she finally broke free. She walked quickly across the floor, knelt at eye level with the stunned little boy, and placed a kiss on his face.
Isn't that a totally awesome story? God tells us a similar but much better story on the pages of my Bible. The names in God's story are different, but the story sounds a lot like an echo of this Cinderella story.
On the day Jesus died on His cross, Jesus - the Prince of Peace - encountered a guilty thief beside Him on another cross. Like the boy in the castle, the thief yearned to be part of God's forever family. In fact, he was the first person to enter God's forever family after the cross.
Cinderella bestowed the gift of her attention and a kiss on the twisted face of the little boy. Jesus did even more for the thief. Both gave a gift - Jesus and Cinderella. Both shared love with an outcast. For both the boy and the thief, each was accepted by the beautiful one.
But the gift Jesus gave was far more valuable than Cinderella's. When she walked away from the boy, she took her beauty with her leaving the boy still twisted and deformed. What Jesus did was to give the thief the ultimate make-over forever.
He took our suffering on Him and felt our pain for us. ... He was wounded for the wrong we did; He was crushed for the evil we did. The punishment, which made us well, was given to Him, and we are healed because of His wounds." (Isaiah 53:4-5)
Jesus gave the thief more than a kiss. And Jesus offers you and me much more than a kiss. He gave His life to take your and my punishment. It was a terrible trade for Him - a life-saving one for us. He traded His righteousness for all our sin!
Jesus did much more than pay the thief a visit. He paid the price the thief should have paid because of his sins. He wants to do the same for you and me!
Jesus took more than a minute or two with the thief. He takes more than a minute with you and me. He took away my (and the thief's) guilt and sin and brought both the thief and me into God's forever family forever!
It's awesome and amazing!
At A Restoration Church, we are reaching out to all the lonely, twisted little boys standing against the wall all alone and offering each one the love of Jesus! It's an awesome, exciting opportunity!