Have you ever wished you could spin straw into gold like Rumplestiltskin did in the fairy tale? Maybe you are faced with an urgent need for supply or are faced with meeting an impossible deadline or struggling with some physical challenge that threatens your life. It is easy to see how the girl in the story got caught in a web of lies.
Trying to impress an avaricious King a miller boasted that his daughter could spin straw into gold. The King sends for her and locks her in a room filled with straw. She is to spin it into gold by the next morning or forfeit her life. A strange little man appears, and says he will perform this task if she will give him something in return. The first time he takes her bracelet. Impressed but not satisfied with the pile of gold the King locks her in a larger room with the same demand. Again the little man comes and promises to spin the straw into gold, this time she pays him with a precious necklace that had belonged to her mother. Still wanting more gold the King locks her in the largest room in the palace. This time when the little man comes, he says he will only help her if she promises him her first born child. Desperate, she agrees. The job is done and the King is satisfied at last. He marries her and she becomes his queen. In time she has a son. Now the little man returns and demands her child. She begs so pitifully that he gives her three chances to guess his name. Helped by a peasant farm boy she learns his true name and is able to break his hold over her. He disappears forever.
There is a good message in this story. It shows clearly what happens when one starts down a path of lies. The first lie may seem to be successful but then the situation only escalates and requires bigger and bigger lies. The girl in the story believed herself to be in the power of the little man. She did not see that he spun that straw into gold he was also weaving a web of lies and deception that lead to disaster.
It reminded me of Jesus' experience in the wilderness where he had gone to pray after being baptized by God. He had heard God acknowledging him as His own beloved son. Jesus was about to be tempted by the promises of Satan, who wanted Jesus to worship him. Satan challenges Jesus to turn stones into bread. Not quite spinning straw into gold but an attempt to use his healing abilities for material gain. Jesus does not fall for this first attempt. Satan tries again, with a bigger promise. He is tempting Jesus to place his life in jeopardy so angels can come and rescue him. The miller's daughter feared for her life as well, but she simply continues to give in to the evil suggestions. Error is never satisfied, it will always try to get more. It, too, wants to be worshipped. But it cannot really come through with its promises for there is no authority or power behind them.
What finally freed the Queen was seeing the true nature of the little man, learning his true name. Once she saw him for what he was, he disappeared. Jesus overcame the third temptation the same way. He understood his own ability to stand up to error's lies and sent him packing. Error has no choice but to give up and go away, back to nothingness. Like Rumpelstiltskin, evil wanted control over the Christ, over the first-born son of God. It failed with the Queen, it failed with Jesus.
So how do we 'spin straw into gold', how do we handle what seems like an insurmountable situation? Our Bible Lesson this week helps with this. We should begin by seeing who is in charge. "When man is governed by God, the ever-present Mind who understands all things, man knows that with God all things are possible." (S&H 180:25-27) God is our source of supply and strength and health and He is available 'at all times and under all circumstances' to provide the answer we need.
We can continue by understanding that 'the wicked man is not the ruler of his upright neighbor'. Error or evil is never in charge, never has control over our lives and well being. Mrs. Eddy advises, "Let it be understood that success in error is defeat in Truth." (S&H 239:12-13) When one gives in to temptation and tells that first little lie, or chooses to indulge in something that is wrong (why can't I drink one beer with my buddies, or take something that does not belong to me, or disobey my parents) that makes it all the easier to give in the next time...and the next, until there is a final accounting. Cheating becomes too easy.
We must see error for what it is, nothing masquerading as something, a liar promiseing things it cannot deliver. We must be just as clear about the allness of God, good, who loves us as His own beloved child, made in His image and likeness. Divine Love will meet every human need. Jesus proved that with the loaves and the fishes. We can demonstrate it as well 'spinning straw into gold'. Replace the useless straw or chaff and be enriched with the truth of your spiritual identity, never separated from your Father Mother God, never caught in a hopeless or helpless situation. See error's true identity, its true name, and it will lose any hold you thought it had. You are not the victim of false appetite, addiction, never at the mercy of lack, never overpowered by illness. Whatever your 'Rumplestiltskin' pretends to be, use that as an opportunity to know more about God and you will be rich beyond compare.