A different fairy tale

September 4, 2006

THE LINES, PAINTED IN WHITE CALLIGRAPHY ON THE BLACK FACTORY WALL, silently summarised why we were gathering over the past two weeks as YWAM leaders from around the world. The occasion was our annual Global Leadership Gathering, this time in an old industrial building in Harpenden, north of London.

We listened to reports ‘terrible and wonderful’-of the devastation of AIDS in Africa, of an angelic visitation in Brazil, of the rape of the daughter of one of our leaders, of breakthroughs in closed countries, of senseless fatal accidents, of tools and technology to link us like never before‚Ķ.

We were reminded of the reality of evil and the intensity of the global struggle, of the many dangling issues and unanswered questions, of the absurdity of our puny efforts and yet the promise of His empowerment….

A name unfamiliar to me-Frederick Buechner-was appended to the lines, so I googled to discover their source. Buechner, I learned, was an American Presbyterian minister and novelist. Among his numerous books was Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale, from which these lines were taken.

Again and again, I found myself returning to the wall in the light of the business at hand in our meeting. Again and again I was brought back to the hope of the ultimate resolution of the human story-the reason why this room full of mission leaders had given up salary, financial security and professional advancement to propagate a ‘fairy tale’:

It is a world of magic and mystery of deep darkness and flickering starlight.
It is a world where terrible things happen and wonderful things too.
It is a world where goodness is pitted against evil love against hate, order against chaos in a great struggle where often it is hard to be sure who belongs to which side because appearances are endlessly deceptive.
Yet for all it’s confusion and wildness it is a world where the battle goes ultimately to the good who live happily ever after and where in the long run everybody, good and evil alike, becomes known by his true name…

This is the fairy tale of the gospel with, of course, one crucial difference from all the other fairy tales, which is that the claim made for it is that it is true, that it not only happened once upon a time but has kept on happening ever since and is happening still.

C.S.Lewis came to faith after J.R.R.Tolkien asked him, ‘What if the greatest story ever told happened to be true?’

This is the story, a different fairytale, we want to tell everyone, everywhere.

Till next week,
Jeff Fountain

Till next week,


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