What Are You Wearing?

I recently purchased a book for my son that my mother used to read to my younger brother and me when we were young. It’s called The Emperor’s New Clothes, and it’s a story about an emperor who is persuaded by two “tailors” into having clothes made for him out of a special, one-of-a-kind material that they are able to weave. The problem is, this unique cloth doesn’t actually exist. The two men are really con artists that have schemed up a plan to swindle the emperor out of his money and ensure that the townsfolk let them get away with it. They have convinced the entire town that this woven cloth is distinct because only those who are wise and fit for their jobs can see it.

The story progresses to the point where the emperor parades around in his new “clothes” for everyone within his kingdom to admire. At first, the town is shocked that they can’t see the emperor’s apparel. Nonetheless, since no one wants to be thought of as a fool unfit for his job, the whole town pretends to see the new garments, loudly voicing admiration for the ruler’s outfit as he passes by.

Finally, the emperor parades past a little boy, who loudly blurts out what everyone else has been afraid to admit all along—that the emperor is not wearing any clothes at all! He has been parading around in his underwear this whole time! As the now-emboldened crowd begins to voice agreement with the young boy, who can neither be considered a fool nor unfit for a job at such a young age, the emperor flees to his palace, bright red from embarrassment.

Although I do not remember much of the story beyond this point as a child, the one I bought for my son ends on a happy note. The emperor is able to capture the thieves and recover his stolen money. He also thanks the boy for his honesty, recognizing how he has been spared from further scams and embarrassment as a result. In the end, this vain ruler has learned a valuable lesson from the boy, which is to always be honest, no matter what.

My younger brother and I loved this story as children and always gleefully giggled at the emperor’s embarrassment. His short-lived predicament never ceased to amuse our young minds. Although we were little when my mom read us this book, I always had a good understanding of how outlandish the story was, which was perhaps why I so readily laughed at the emperor instead of feeling sorry for him. I knew in real life that no one could fall for such an absurd scheme. Or so I thought.

Over thirty years later, as I find myself living in a very different day of age, I’m beginning to think that this children’s story was not so outlandish after all. As absurd as the scheme was in The Emperor’s New Clothes, we are seeing similar absurdities in our society today. And just like the townsfolk believed they would look foolish or unfit for their jobs if they told the truth, our society would have us believe that we are fools that are perhaps unfit for society itself if we dare to speak the truth rather than going along with worldly schemes.

The truth is, this world is in worse condition than the emperor ever was. Caught up in deception, it drapes itself in human wisdom and sophistication, deafening its ears to the truth that even a small child can see to opt for its own ideas of self-perception. As time goes by, these actions and attitudes have become even more prevalent as deception continues to weave itself into the fabric of our society and cause many to think erroneously. But let’s not allow the wool to be pulled over our own eyes, my friends. Worldly wisdom will never amount to real wisdom, for true wisdom comes from God alone.

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.”

1 Corinthians 3:19a

For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

Proverbs 2:6

Though worldly wisdom may be admired and applauded in our time, everyone will ultimately see that it amounted to nothing in the end. It was just a deceptive scheme, and those who paraded around in it were only exposing themselves in shame. Woe to them!

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!

Isaiah 5:20-21

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.”

Romans 1:18

Let us therefore dress differently than this world, forsaking earthly comfort and popularity.

Let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”

Romans 13:12

God has given us the apparel needed to live victoriously in this day of age. He has provided us and commands us to put on His armor, which includes fastening His belt of truth and girding His breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6:13-17), so let’s put on the full armor of God and prepare for the battle at hand.

As it is, we were never meant to take part in any worldly “fashion show” or to seek the approval of man (Gal. 1:10). So, let’s suit up and prepare for practical living in this present day. Moreover, let’s take what the emperor learned to heart, because honesty still is (and will always be) the best policy, and above all else, God’s truth will prevail.

Nothing is Too Broken

My niece is celebrating her 13th birthday this month, and in honor of the occasion, I wanted to share a children’s story I wrote for her several years ago by the title of “Nothing is Too Broken.As broken as our world is nowadays, all I can say is this–I’m glad that this title is true. I’m glad that nothing is too broken for God and His purposes.

So without further ado, sit back, relax, and enjoy the story! I hope it is a blessing to you today.

Photo by Tim Mossholder from pexels.com

Carianna woke up earlier than usual for a Saturday morning. She couldn’t sleep well last night because she was too excited. Today was her ninth birthday! The smell of waffles wafted to her room, and she went to the kitchen to investigate. There her mom was, making a special breakfast for the birthday girl.

“Happy birthday, my beautiful girl!” her mom, Megan, exclaimed as she rushed around the counter to give her sweet daughter a hug.

“Thanks, Mom,” Carianna replied with a smile.

Carianna helped her mom set the table for her special breakfast, and then soon she, her mom, her brother, and her dad were sitting around the table eating the delicious meal.

The day proved to be a busy, fun day. She and her family went to the zoo with a few of her friends, where they got to go on a camel ride.

Later that evening, after she and her family washed the dust and sweat off from their zoo outing, they went to Carianna’s favorite restaurant and then returned home to enjoy the strawberry shortcake and vanilla ice cream that her mom had made.

As the evening was nearing an end, her family presented her with what she was long awaiting—the gifts! She received a mermaid blanket, hair chalk, and a nail kit.

“Thank you!” Carianna exclaimed, smiling contentedly as she hugged her presents.

“We have one more for you,” her mother stated. She and her father then left the room and came back with a big present that had a bed sheet over it.

Carianna pulled off the sheet to see a small, multi-colored glass table.

“Wow!” Carianna exclaimed.

“Do you remember how you asked me for this table a couple of months ago?” her mom asked.

“Yes, I do!” she stated. “I wanted this table to put my alarm clock on it in my room. I just thought it was going to be too expensive to get as a present.”

“Well, it was a bit expensive,” her dad chimed in as he gave her a hug. “But I worked some extra hours last month so that we could buy this for you. We knew how much you wanted it.”

“Thanks, Mom and Dad!” Carianna exclaimed as she gave them a hug.

Her mom and dad helped her put the table in her room that night, and she put her presents on top of it to sleep with them nearby. Today truly had been a special day. She felt like a princess. And she knew she was loved by her family and friends.

The weeks went on, and Carianna continued to enjoy her new gifts and life in general.

One day, however, all of that changed.

One of Carianna’s friends came over to play one afternoon, and in her eagerness to go outside and ride bikes with her friend, she threw a book she had been reading onto the glass table.

As soon as the book hit the table, the glass tabletop came down with a thud.

Carianna screamed and then started to cry.

Megan heard her and rushed to her room.

“What happened?” she asked with concern. “Are you okay?”

“I am,” Carianna wailed, “but look at my table!”

Megan looked to see the table lying on the floor, in pieces.

“Well, let’s clean this up,” Megan replied.

The two carefully picked up the pieces of the table and placed them in a cardboard box.

“It’s ruined, Mom!” Carianna cried. “My new gift is ruined!”

“Don’t cry,” Carianna’s mom comforted her as she wiped her tears away. “We can still use this for something.”

“I don’t see what,” Carianna stated grumpily, then started to cry again.

Megan held her close and let her cry. Carianna later went outside to play with her friend. Megan had encouraged her to go play. It would be good for her to get her mind off of what had happened. In the meantime, Megan thought about what to do with the broken gift.

Several weeks later, Megan told Carianna, “I have a surprise for you.”

“What is it?” Carianna asked as she looked up from what she had been reading.

“Come with me,” Megan stated.

Carianna and Megan went to the kitchen where a beautiful, colorful vase was sitting in the middle of the table.

“Wow, Mom! That’s beautiful!” Carianna gushed.

“Do you know where I got the material from?” Megan asked her.

“Is it from my table?” Carianna asked.

“Yes, it is.” Megan smiled.

“I love it, Mom,” Carianna told her. “Thanks!”

Later that day, Carianna and her mother picked out flowers from the store for Carianna to put in her new vase. Carianna had never seen a vase so big or colorful before. She absolutely loved it and loved the fact that her mom put so much work into it to make it a precious gift for her. She had the best mom in the world.

A week later, however, when Carianna was hanging a picture on the wall, the picture fell and dropped directly onto the vase, breaking both the vase and the picture.

“It’s no use, Mom,” Carianna wailed. “This gift just keeps breaking. It’s hopeless!”

“It’s not hopeless,” Megan remarked.

“Yes, it is!” Carianna retorted, and then ran out of the room crying.

Megan picked up the broken pieces once again and placed them in the same cardboard box from last time. The pieces were much smaller than they had been before, but they were so vibrant in color that they were beautiful just as they were. Surely, she could still use them for something. All of the sudden, she had an idea. She knew it would take time and a lot of detail, but she was willing to put in the effort.

The weeks passed, and while Carianna was busy with the new school year, Megan was busy working away in their shed on the glass project.

Carianna had no idea what her mother was doing, but whenever she thought about the two accidents that had occurred with her gift, she felt sad. Nonetheless, she tried to focus on her other gifts and her friends and school. She had a pretty good life.

Finally, a month after the last accident, Carianna’s mom approached her.

“Carianna,” her mom said. “Do you remember how you thought that your gift was completely ruined?”

“Yes,” Carianna sadly replied.

“Well, I have been working on something in the shed, and I want to show it to you.”

The mother and daughter walked to the shed, and Megan opened the shed doors to reveal the most beautiful piece of art that Carianna had ever seen. It was a stained-glass window!

“Is this, is this from the broken vase?” Carianna stuttered, barely able to believe what she was seeing. How could such beauty come from something so broken?

“It sure is!” Her mom exclaimed with a smile.

“Wow, Mom! How did you do this?”

“Well,” she slowly replied as she traced the outline of the glass with her index finger, “It wasn’t easy, but I read lots of books and took a class where the teachers were able to help me design and create this, and this is what came to be.”

“Do you like it?” she asked her daughter.

Carianna nodded and then rushed to her mother’s side to give her a hug.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

“I was thinking that we could take out the window in your bedroom and install this,” her mom told her. “Your dad knows how to do that. We would just need to buy a few items at the hardware store.”

Carianna nodded again. She was too overcome with emotion to say anything. She loved the stained-glass window even more than she had loved the table. And she knew that this was an even greater display of her mom’s love to her because she knew that the intricate work must have taken a lot of time.

That weekend, they scheduled a trip to go to the hardware store. However, before they left, Carianna had an idea.

“Mom, would it be okay with you if we gave the stained-glass window to the church?” she asked timidly. “It’s so pretty that I think everyone should enjoy it.”

“Is that what you really want to do?” her mom asked.

“Yes, as long as that is okay with you.”

“It sure is,” Megan replied and hugged her daughter.

Megan made a phone call to the church to see if they would accept the window, and then Megan and Carianna carefully packed the window into the back of their van and headed to the church.

The secretary profusely thanked Carianna and her mom for their generous donation, and then Carianna and her mom stopped by a pastry shop to eat a cupcake before they headed home.

“You really surprise me, Mom,” Carianna said in between bites of her chocolate cupcake.

“Why is that?” Megan asked before she took a bite of her own cupcake.

“Because you can make something out of anything. It’s really amazing. You are an amazing mom.”

Megan smiled at her daughter and then remarked, “Well, nothing is too broken that it cannot be used somehow.”

The two finished their treats and then headed home to a nice and quiet evening with their family.

Several weeks later, the stained-glass window was finally installed at church, making the front of the church look heavenly. Carianna loved to look at the window every time she went to church, and she was happy that she and her mom gave it to the church. It belonged there.

She imagined that one day she would get married in front of that window. In the meantime, she continued to enjoy her family, friends, school, and the other gifts she had been given. And she was learning to be more like her mother—fixing things and making something new out of broken pieces, because nothing was so broken that it could not be used. In her heart, Carianna knew that was true of people also. No one was so broken that God couldn’t use them.