Frederick Buechner wrote, “As far as I know, there has never been an age that has not produced fairy tales.” He says the reason fairy tales are universal is that they teach us what we most need to know about life.
They tell us that things are often not what they seem—the ugly frog is really a prince, the lovely stepmother is in fact a witch.
They tell us that there is another world that this world points to. That world is not so far away, and we are not in control of it.
They tell us that stepping into a wardrobe or falling down a rabbit hole or rubbing a lamp suddenly introduces a new reality. What was ordinary is suddenly the vehicle of the extraordinary.
Often the problem in fairy tales is that because of a curse or a spell, someone has fallen into a death sleep from which they are powerless to awake. Maybe it’s the bite of a poison apple or the prick of a spinning wheel or a nap that lasts twenty years.
These stories endure because they’re our story. We find ourselves blind to urgent matters as if we have been spellbound. But sometimes we do awaken from our enchanted sleep. Bill W. awakens one day to the reality that he’s a hopeless addict and founds Alcoholics Anonymous. Scarlett O’Hara awakens to the fact that she’s really in love with Rhett Butler and not Ashley Wilkes. Ebenezer Scrooge awakens to the pain of his miserly past and the possibility of a generous future. We might awaken to our failure as parents, or our workaholism, or the reality that we’ve been living in fear or anger. We might awaken to a new passion for music or surfing, or to a calling to fight racism or poverty.
Or we might awaken to God.
This is what happens in the Bible. A fugitive from Egypt named Moses sees a bush he’s passed a hundred times before, but this time it’s on fire. He turns aside and hears the voice of God.
The story of the Bible is like a fairy tale because it points us to another, deeper reality, only the story of the Bible is true. It actually happened.
Our journey toward God begins with awakening.
Ortberg, John. 2018. Eternity Is Now in Session: A Radical Rediscovery of What Jesus Really Taught about Salvation, Eternity, and Getting to the Good Place. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Momentum.