Fairytales & Gospel Truth
There is a widespread belief among Christians today that the heart is desperately wicked—even after a person comes to Christ.
It is a crippling belief.
And it is untrue.
—John Eldredge, Waking the Dead
If you’ve read to the end of my book…or heard me share my story…or if you’ve been reading these blog posts for any length of time…then you know about the crisis and the miracle. The inexplicable thing that preceded The Covenant Story. The prequel, so to speak, when God exposed my pride, and allowed me to be (beautifully) broken, and then rewrote my story with his overwhelming love. It was a transformation of such proportions, I spent a decade searching for language to describe it. And the language God gave me was the story of covenant, and the love of hesed.*
The breathtaking bottom-line truth of what God showed me was Jesus does for me what I could never do for myself. Which is to say—what was impossible for me to accomplish in my own self-effort, Jesus did for me through the miracle gift of his Holy Spirit. He made a way for me to live as a brand new human—to borrow a quote from the Apostle Paul:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Somewhere post-miracle and pre-covenant-story I read a book that resonated DEEPLY with my own experience. I ended up sharing the book with numerous people, loaning it out until it eventually disappeared. So last month I finally got around to ordering myself a new copy, which I started re-reading a few days ago. Once again I am blown away by how well this book captures my own story, and I’d like to share a bit of it with you today.
From Waking the Dead by John Eldredge:
It is the deepest and most wonderful of all mythic truths… The Transformation. A creature that no one could bear to look upon is transformed into a handsome prince. That which was dark and ugly is now glorious and good. Is it not the most beautiful outcome of any story to be written? Perhaps that is because it is the deepest yearning of the human heart. Look how often this theme surfaces.
The phoenix rises from the ashes. Cinderella rises from the cinders. The ugly duckling becomes a beautiful swan. Pinocchio becomes a real boy. The frog becomes a prince. Wretched old Scrooge becomes “as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man as the good old city knew…”
Why are we enchanted by tales of transformation? Why is it an essential part of any great story? Because it is the secret to Christianity, and Christianity is the secret to the universe. “You must be born again” (John 3:7). You must be transformed.
Keeping the Law, following the rules, polishing up your manners—none of that will do. What counts is whether we really have been changed into new and different people (Gal. 6:15)
…And (are) we? I doubt that many of us would go so far as to say we’re transformed. Our names are written down somewhere in heaven, and we have been forgiven. Perhaps we have changed a bit in what we believe and how we act…But transformed seems a bit too much to claim…We’ve been told that even though we have placed our hope in Christ, even though we have become his followers, our hearts are still desperately wicked.
But is that what the Bible teaches?
Or as I ask in my own book: Were we made for a better story?**
*The Hebrew word hesed can be translated steadfast love (ESV) or faithful love (CSB) and is closely associated with God’s commitment to his covenant promises.
**The Covenant Story: Trusting the Love of a Faithful God