On Monday mornings, my dearest friends gather at my home for spiritual discussions, unloading of personal burdens and fun fellowship. The coffee is brewing but this morning we'll be talking about chocolate. Who among us doesn't love chocolate?
We had been reading John Eldredge's book, Waking the Dead, and we were discussing how epic movies and fairy tales mirror our lives. We each had a turn explaining which well known story best described our lives - Cinderella, the Ugly Duckling, and Lord of the Rings were each mentioned. The protagonist of each story mimicking our struggles against flesh, the world and the enemy with a climax of redemption, hope and transformation. (Do you see it? We all relate to Cinderella because we are poor in spirit and longing for Someone to rescue us from this life. He is better than any fairy godmother could ever be and His transformation does not end with the clanging of midnight. We've been changed from rags to riches!)
Charlene said she related to Charlie in Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory and I immediately saw the parallels. Charlie's family was very poor and his life was transformed from poverty to an amazing inheritance. Though my friend had been blessed to move out of a simple farmhouse to a lovely home on 40 acres, I don't think the story is simply about material blessings.
In the recent remake of the movie with Johnnie Depp, Charlie fantasizes about the chocolate factory. He is fascinated with the locked-up secretive building. He even builds a replica using defective toothpaste caps as he wonders about the workings of the mysterious factory and the character of its mysterious owner. He lived near the factory and I imagine he smelled the chocolate every day. I once lived near a chocolate factory and that smell can drive a person mad - the smell of chocolate makes you starving for it's taste.
My friend Charlene has a true fascination with the mysteries of God - what is He like and how does He work among us? She longs for the day when she can enter behind the locked gates of heaven and gaze with wonder upon the workings of God. She is hungry for the only One who can satisfy. Just as the family enjoyed sitting around ruminating about experiences with Willie Wonka, my friends relish the moments of sharing our own run-ins with God.
It seemed like pure luck that Charlie got the golden ticket but it was destined. Willie Wonka, upon noticing that Charlie is the only one left, comments that he had a hunch Charlie would be the winner, implying there was much more than chance involved.
Could you find the golden ticket that would change your life? Even if you hardly had a dime to spend on chocolate bars? Only if God had chosen you before the beginning of time and had hand stamped your golden ticket with your name on it.
You and I both know that chocolate cannot bring true happiness (well, maybe temporarily), but we who have received the gift of salvation from Jesus Christ, hold the golden ticket to a factory more glorious than any imagination. Picture the child with free reign in a candy store and that excitement cannot match the thrill of being with God one day face to face.
Candy stores are magical - as the Gene Wilder version puts it, "Who can make the sunrise? The candy man can!" There is something beautiful and delightful about the rows of colorful candy and the sweet smells in the air.
But our golden tickets will bring us to something even more amazing than this child-like version of heaven. We will rejoice with singing when we see the glorious things He has planned for us. And that will be before we realize that we are heirs - we have inherited the factory! We are not just hungry children who will be filled with sweetness, but co-owners and creative partners with the most creative entrepreneur of all time.
Is there a story which captures the essence of your life? I'll share my story soon.