I recently watched a favorite movie of mine from my younger years, Ever After. The last lines of this Cinderella like movie made me smile. Danielle, the now princess, says to her new husband, “You, Sir, are supposed to be charming.” He replies, “And we are supposed to live happily ever after.” “Says who,” Danielle queries back. The Prince pauses and says, “I don’t know.” They smile at each other, and the movie fades away and on the screen we read, “and they lived happily ever after.”
Ahh. Remember watching the Disney channel? It used to be on Sunday nights, and I liked when our family occasionally watched together in the living room, gathered around our small television. Mom would sometimes make us a decidedly unhealthy dinner of pizza burgers and chocolate milkshakes. (This was a vast change from our normal meals!) Afterwards, The Lawrence Welk Show would continue the evening television lineup. My brother always left at that point! But I liked to watch some of it. The ladies were dressed up pretty, the music was jazzy and fun, and even though it could be a bit more boring than the previous Disney selection, it was fun in it’s own rights, especially since we didn’t watch a lot of tv in our family. Some of the sets were enchanting, the dancing was graceful or fun, and they always ended with a waltz. Ahh.
Happily ever after. The end. Princesses. Charming knights. It is the stuff of fairy tales.
Another favorite movie of mine from my childhood is Rigoletto. Do you know this one? It was produced by Feature Films for Families. The young heroine, Bonnie, is daughter of a widow. The town is poor, many people have great needs. A wealthy man buys and fixes up an old mansion. Bonnie ends up going to work for him, but is instructed to never go into his study, ever. One day she hears beautiful singing and can’t help but go in. Ribaldi, “the Master,” gets angry. Ribaldi’s face is scarred and he limps. Gabriella, “a princess” with an angelic voice, soothes Bonnie and after that an unlikely friendship strikes up as Bonnie asks Ribaldi to teach her to sing too, as he taught Gabriella. Ribaldi loves the town, especially the children. The townsfolk are given large amounts of money anonymously by Ribaldi, but they don’t know it is from him. The banker is selling their property, but they think Ribaldi is buying them out. The movie ends with the townsfolk hurting and killing Ribaldi in anger, thinking he is taking their homes, all while Bonnie is singing beautifully at a national contest that she was able to go to because of Ribaldi. She wins, and returns home only to find Ribaldi is gone. Yet, inside his home, she finds a man. He looks like Ribaldi, but he is not scarred and doesn’t limp. He says he is from a far away land, and is just passing through. He says to Bonnie, “But you don’t believe that do you?”
The move is a mix of reality and fantasy, and at one point Bonnie sings these words (Let Me In by Kurt Bestor and Sam Cardon):
I love the part in fairy tales
That’s very near the end
When all the kingdom cheers for this new queen;
And all is well and all is good
And everyone belongs,
And happily they’re ever-aftering.
Ahh. Doesn’t it sound magical? Doesn’t it make you really want that? But look around us. Life is not happily ever after right now. Hatred, racism, extremists, terrorism, a pandemic, child abuse, sex trafficking, domestic violence, cancer, suffering, pain. I don’t need continue, though many more could be noted. Why does happily ever after call to us? Especially, when our reality seems that happily ever after is not possible.
Our hearts long for this elusive ending, I believe, because that is what we were created for and it is what is to come! Why do I think this? Because I just read Daniel. Because I’m studying my way through the Old Testament. The Old Testament tells a beautiful story of God and His plan and mankind’s fall into sin and their struggle to find that perfect unity that was lost when sin entered. The story begins in an utopia — a garden of delight and perfectness, and where Adam and Eve walked with God in the cool of the evening. Ahh, lovely– right! But sin and Satan entered and drew people away from God. Adam and Eve sinned and perfect union with God was marred; pain, suffering, and all sorts of evil now engrain human kind. (Genesis 2-3) Sin entered all aspects of humanity and all creation even groans under the weight of it. By the time you get to Daniel in the Old Testament, the Bible has already shown sin and the depraved mind of man. God grieved over the evil of mankind, so much that he had the intent to wipe out humanity. (Genesis 6:5-7). However, God saw something different in Noah. He sent a flood, but in kindness He spared Noah, and therefore, man. From that man, all people of the earth came to be. One group of people showcased in the Old Testament are the Jews, those of Israeli heritage. In continuing through the Old Testament the reader learns how God sustained them, blessed them, how they followed after other gods, how God rescued them, how He led them. It is seen over an over how they continually sought after something other than God alone. God, in justice, had to punish their sins. Yet again and again, in love, God rescued them, brought them back to Himself, and retaught them His ways. Now, Israel is “God’s chosen people” and they represent God’s plan and walk with all people. Praise God in the New Testament when Jesus comes, He dies for all people, even if not a Jew by blood! (This is hinted at all through the Old Testament too! Praise God!)
So in studying Daniel, I was supposed to come up with a theme for the book. I sometimes think this is a hard task to condense a book of the Bible into a main sentence. Daniel is full of prophecy. Many people would say that is the theme. But as I thought, this is what I wrote: God is the Most High God, the Ruler of Heaven and all of the earth. His Kingdom will endure forever!
Ahh! I went back and looked at who God is as noted in the book of Daniel. God is the Most High God, the Living God, the Ancient of Days, the Highest One, the Lord, the Great and Awesome God. He is righteous, compassionate, just. Ahh! Oh don’t you love it! God rules over all of heaven and all of earth. Sin is present right now in astonishing ways, but only for a time! In Daniel we see prophecy, yes, and in the middle of the predetermined time the Messiah comes! (Messiah, Savior, Jesus! Jesus died on the cross to remove our sin and restore right relationship with God!) And then, after that at the end of the predetermined time the Ancient of Days, God Himself, reigns and His kindgom will never end! Ahh!! Do you see? The fairy tale is in us. We long for happily ever after, because God has set eternity in our hearts! Oh precious sisters in God — press on to know this God of Heaven who rules supreme! His love for you is unfathomable! Sin’s effects of suffering and pain are great, and our world is in a topsy turvy because of this sin. But, we know the end! Praise God, happily ever after is coming!
Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness and the light dwells in Him. The Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind. … I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion. For He is the living God and enduring forever. O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, the Lord our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done. (Daniel 2:20-22, 4:25 & 34, 6:26, 9:4 &14 )
*This is the song Ancient of Days that I grew up listening to (if you want another version of song that puts praise into words!)