“But if it doesn’t please you to worship Yahweh, choose for yourselves today the one you will worship: the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. As for me and my family, we will worship Yahweh.”         ~ Joshua 24:15

The story begins, as any Snow White story does, with parents who long for a child.  There once lived a very wealthy count and countess who had no children.  The count was very pious, but felt his wife to be “too much devoted to the pomps and vanities of this wicked world,” for which he blamed their childless state.  The countess, “chagrined at this pious conceit,” made every attempt to right whatever wrong she had done in the eyes of heaven so that she might conceive.[1]

And then, “it happened that” (now my favorite phrase in any story!) a learned monk named Albertus Magnus visited the couple’s palace.  The countess confessed her distress, and Albertus “forbade his afflicted daughter all other penance and castigation of the flesh, prescribed her and her husband a more liberal diet, and foretold, in the spirit of prophecy, that she should soon be blessed with fruit of her body.”[2]

So it came to pass.

When Albertus came back, he found a lovely babe: a girl who “was so pretty, and so loving, and smiled upon him so innocently.”[3]  He blessed the child, and upon her mother’s insistence, created a gift for her – a gift so scientific, the mother thought of it as “magic.”  The mother hid it with her jewels until the girl was old enough to use it.[4]

The count soon died, and the countess and her daughter, whose name was Richilda, retired to a nunnery.  There Richilda was educated by her mother.  When Richilda was fifteen, the mother took ill.  On her deathbed, she gave Albertus’ gift to Richilda: a magic mirror which would show truthful images to Richilda’s questions.

Richilda’s Choice

Yes, Richilda is not who we first thought.  She has a similar beginning as Snow White; but she is, in fact, the villain of this story.

But she is not the villain yet.

Richilda’s mother admonishes her a great deal concerning the mirror.  She tells her to “beware” of using it for selfishness, but to use it only “in the weightiest transactions of life.”  She ends by telling her to “be considerate and cautious in using it, and walk in the paths of virtue, so the polished surface will never be dimmed before your eyes by the poisonous breath of vice.”[5]

This is very good advice, and at this point, the choice is yet before Richilda in how she will use this precious gift.   She could choose to follow her mother’s advice.

Our Choice

Like Richilda, we have a choice on whether we pursue a life of selfishness or holiness.

Holiness is not a word to be feared.  It means to be set apart for God.  God made the Israelites holy by setting them apart for Himself.  Believers, both pre-Christ and post-Christ, are made holy and righteous (and all those other wonderful, lofty words) by Christ’s death on the cross.  Our holiness is not our own; it is God’s, given to us as a precious gift.  Therefore, we pursue holiness by pursuing a relationship with Him.

The Israelites had the same choice as Richilda before them when they entered the Promised Land.  They could choose to follow after the gods of this world, or follow after Yahweh.  Although many individuals did choose to follow Yahweh, we know what Israel corporately chose.

In our story, Richilda has yet to make that choice.  Although she has enough learning to pursue the latter, we know (by virtue of the story) she will choose the former.  But what if she’d chosen a life in pursuit of holiness?  I wonder how her life would have been different if she’d lived her life for God’s glory, rather than her own glory.

Just like the Israelites and Richilda, we have a choice on what sort of life we will lead.  We can choose to follow the gods of this world, or we can choose to follow Yahweh.  We can choose selfish sin or loving holiness.

Which will you choose?



[1] Heiner, “Richilda,” Sleeping Beauties, 67.

[2] Ibid., 67-68.

[3] Ibid. 68.

[4] Ibid., 69.

[5] Ibid. 70

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