Scott Schofield works in a family court helping spouses, siblings, parents and children work their way through a variety of legal thickets. He loves to write, but his Accepting Responsibility blog: www.acceptingresponsibility.com is currently on hiatus until inspiration returns. Scott and his wife Nancy are empty-nesters living in Michigan, where he is an avid reader and fitness enthusiast. He worships weekly at what has come to be known as a “mega-church”, where on one Sunday a month he serves as greeter, saying “Good morning!” several hundred times. Scott’s greatest achievement is being named “World’s Best Grandpa”, a title verified by the coffee mug he has possessed for the last five years.
He stood at the bottom of the long staircase with a glass slipper in his hand. She slowly descended. Cinderella was no longer wearing the stunning blue gown she had worn at the ball.
The tattered dress she now wore was made no more colorful by the once-white smock that covered it. Gone too were the diamonds and pearls.
Smudges of fireplace ash had replaced her makeup. Cinderella knew her foot would fit effortlessly into the shoe he held; of that she had no doubt. It was something else that caused her concern. With each step down the stairs she wondered: “Look at me. I’m not a princess. I’m just a plain country girl. This is the real me. Do you truly love me? Will you take me just as I am?”
Time stood still for him as Cinderella took step after graceful step down toward him. He had searched so long for the woman whose beauty had stunned everyone–especially him–at the ball. He would ask her to try on the glass slipper, but really there was no need. This was the woman who had won his heart; of that he had no doubt. But since his father’s passing, he was no longer a crown prince, the care-free young man with whom she had danced the night away at the ball. He was a king. Was she willing to be his queen, to live her life in a frequently unfriendly spotlight? And at this crucial moment he looked less than dashing: the journey had been long. And muddy. “Look at me. I’m just a boy trying hard to fill a great man’s shoes. This is the real me. Do you truly love me? Will you take me just as I am?”
I thought about Jesus as I sat in the dark theater with my granddaughter watching the end of Disney’s latest version of this familiar fairy tale. (“It’s not a cartoon, Grampy. It has real people in it!”) I thought about how we ask Him those same questions: “This is the real me. Do you truly love me? Will you take me just as I am?” Or do I have to put on my fancy gown, makeup and jewelry? Do I have clean the mud and sweat off my uniform? Are you really eager to wrap your arms around me just as I am, just as the father embraced his prodigal son, a kid still smelly from the pigpen the son had so recently called home?
“Yes!” Jesus answers.
Not only can He love me just as I am, He already loves me just as I am. And–I have trouble wrapping my mind around this one–He loved me before I ever was. Before I was born He knew me. And loved me. Smudged face. Tattered dress. Mud-caked uniform. Checkered past. Twisted heart. He loves me anyway. He is the kind of god who gives favor to weak and selfish people like me. Because He loves me. And He loves you too.
He loves us too much to quietly let us run away, a Cinderella dashing home from the ball. Like the prince–now king–who refused to let a treasure slip out of his life, God is relentless in His pursuit of us. He, like the prince, will travel the length and breadth of His kingdom to make us His. He loves us that much. Just as we are. No fancy gown needed.
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:20b