Summary: Become who you were meant to be: try on the slipper and proclaim the transformation Christ has made in you.
EMBRACING THE “CINDERELLA” WITHIN
The Cinderella story resonates strongly with most young girls. My daughter loves that genre or story type and enjoys the variations of it like Ella Enchanted or Ever After. For many young girls the fantasy builds to include their wedding day and visions of what their Prince Charming may look like.
With boys…well, not so much. Yeah, telling a boy he has a “Cinderella” within will get you an unpleasant reaction. We used to call guys with dreams of romance “Cinderfella.” Boys are born to be boys with manly dreams. We dream of phone conversations that are over in 30 seconds flat; we dream of killing our own food; we dream of watching sports quietly with a buddy for hours without thinking, “he must be mad at me”; and hey, if another guy shows up at a party in the same outfit, we will probably become life-long buddies. We only know the names of five colors, us guys: blue, red, yellow, green…blue (I said that one already).
I hate to break it to you guys but there really is a Cinderella story within us. It is the story of transformation and of rising up from humble origins. And just to soothe you men, you know that sports often use the Cinderella metaphor for teams that shouldn’t be in the playoffs.
Michael Griffiths once wrote a book with the intriguing title “Cinderella With Amnesia.” The cover shows a picture of Cinderella sitting in rags by the fireplace. She is gazing at a glass slipper in her hand, and her face reveals utter bewilderment. She obviously has no idea what it is or where it came from. Although somewhere out there the prince pursues her as the love of his life, she has completely forgotten. She has no idea who she is, nor the wonderful future she could enjoy. What a tragedy!
This is the story of Israel too, sitting in exile in Babylon forgetting who she is and the grace she possesses. In Isaiah 52 we read of four word pictures that tell a divine Cinderella story, of God’s love for his people. It tells of God’s plan to restore her and to marry her. The Church of Jesus Christ is often referred to as the Bride of Christ in the NT and so this is our story too. But this is no fairytale; this is a drama based on real life events.
1. Put on your wedding clothes
Different types of clothing can change the way you feel about yourself. If you wear jeans and a t-shirt to a formal banquet you will feel quite out-classed. Wear a suit and tie to a hockey game and someone may mistake you for the general manager. What you wear affects how you feel about yourself.
Isaiah commands Jerusalem to awaken after having drunk from the bitter cup of God’s anger. He says, “Awake, awake, O Zion, clothe yourself with strength. Put on your garments of splendor, O Jerusalem, the holy city. The uncircumcised and defiled will not enter you again” (52:1).
Isaiah saw a vision of Zion in the future, a future where exile had dulled them to their spiritual inheritance. Bondage and sin and misery had given them amnesia. So Isaiah awakens them and tells them to put on two kinds of clothing. First he says to clothe themselves with strength, that is, to get ready for action. God is about to do something new and has laid out clothes of strength to put on. Then he says to put on clothes of splendor, clothes that bring to mind royalty and priestly reverence. For Zion had a twofold purpose: to reign as kings over the earth and to act as priests interceding for the world.
Become who you were meant to be Israel, Isaiah says. They had been violated by the Babylonians and made to feel like dirt. You know how that is when your dignity has been torn down, your dreams crushed, and your personal worth seemingly devalued. You have felt it when your sins convinced you that you were unworthy of God’s grace. You knew it when you could do nothing to erase that feeling of shame that came with your sin. Nothing you could do made you feel right before God. We all know we are God’s people but we feel so unrighteous. That is why we wear clothes that are more appropriate for mourning and grieving and slavery.
Isaiah says wake up, snap out of it. “Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, O Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck, O captive daughter of Zion” (52:2). God’s people had been sitting in the dust like prisoners. Now he tells them to shake it off and sit on the throne as his queen.