Note: You can find the following spiritual parable, which is reproduced here with permission, in Soul Physicians.
Once upon a time there lived a beautiful Swan. Swan reflected the Creator, related lovingly, ruled humbly over Swandom, and rested contentedly.
Until Swan ate poisoned Swan food. Then everything changed. Swan’s beauty was corrupted, love became a chasm of distance, rule turned to captivity, and rest disintegrated into shameful condemnation.
Until the Great Swan Prince restored order. Then Swan changed again. A new creation. Re-created. Regenerated. Reconciled. Redeemed. Justified.
Only Swan still swam like an ugly Duckling. Thought like an ugly Duckling. Quacked like an off-key Duckling.
Once Swan saw Swan’s reflection mirrored in Swan Lake. Startled, Swan was confused. The reflection seemed to reflect a titanic change—change for the good, for the best, forever.
“No. Can’t be,” Swan reflected. “I’m just an ugly Duckling saved by grace. I’m not perfect, just forgiven. Changes are occurring, but no drastic inner change has already occurred. Must be something wrong with this water reflecting a distorted image of me. Must be something wrong with how I see myself. Too arrogant.”
So Swan returned to Duckyville. Yielded again to Ugly-Duckling Theology, to Worm Theology. Living as if still corrupt.
Swan actually felt quite smug in Duckyville. “I know who I am. Sinner Swan. No arrogance in me. Forget about myself. Don’t think highly of myself. Wretched Swan that I am.”
That is, until Ambassador Swan arrived to represent Creator. “Hear ye! Hear ye! I have come to preach the good news of regeneration and redemption.”
Ambassador’s message struck a chord with Swan. Reminded Swan of that silly second when his reflection seemed to indicate that real change had already occurred.
Preaching regeneration, Ambassador said, “You’re a new creation. Created in my image. You have a new nature. A saint you are—Saint Swan. A new you exists. New purity. New capacities. New righteous gowns. New life. Restoration. New nature.”
“But, but, but,” sputtered Swan. “Saint? Thought I was a sinner.”
“Was is right,” Ambassador concurred. “But you are a saint now.”
“Not only that,” Ambassador continued, “you’re also salt, light, wise, righteous, noble, good, holy, blameless, without spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. You are dead to sin, buried with Christ, your old Swan crucified with Christ. United with Christ, raised with Christ, and alive to Creator.”
Preaching redemption, Ambassador shared, “You’re free from sin. You have victory over sin. New power to live holy because you are holy. New inclination to love because you have been renewed in the image of the One who is Love.”
“But, but, but,” stammered Swan. “Free? Thought I was a slave.”
“Was is right,” Ambassador concurred. “But you are a free Swan now. Free to fly. Free to shepherd. Free to rule. Free to empower. Free to enjoy victory over sin. Freed from sin’s power. Emancipated.”
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In Christ, are you still an ugly duckling, or are you a beautiful swan?