February 18: The Birthday Party
That's how it is with the kingdom of heaven. Everyone is given a royal invitation to come to the wedding to celebrate with the King and His Son, but few will come wearing the robe the King has provided. Matthew 22:14, Clear Word.
She is an elegant woman, this friend of mine, with her svelte figure and shocking white hair. Her brothers acknowledge her as the mover and shaker in the family. It is because of her, they insist, that they and their children are where they are today--geographically and professionally.
Almost a year before her seventieth birthday, people started wondering how they could celebrate the milestone moment of the person they loved so well. Eventually, the notion of a spectacular party took root. "She deserves something wonderful," someone said. All agreed.
And so it began. Work started on the invitations. She had not had a formal wedding when she got married more than 20 years before, but she always knew what she would have chosen. The embossed, rose-framed cards seemed perfect. Then there was the guest list. She came from a large, close-knit family scattered all over the globe--all had to be invited.
Next, arrangements were made for the banquet hall, the menu, and the program, and scores of minutiae in between. The last thing on her list was the gown. She had to find the perfect dress. She saw it, one day, in a bridal shop--a lovely, violet, sequined creation.
Opening my Bible one morning I read again the poignant verses in Matthew 22: "The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet" (verse 1, NIV). I smiled as I saw how closely the party checklist mirrored Matthew's--invitation, guests, food, clothes, and all. Spiritual similarities spilled over in my mind. Slipping the invitation in my beaded bag, just in case the maÃ®tre d' had questions about my presence, I praised God for His guest list. He has invited me.
My friend was radiant as she greeted each perfectly attired guest. Nobody had dared to come unprepared. I prayed that we would all be as prepared for Him.
This party was only a foretaste of our heavenly party. Unlike what my friend's relatives affirmed, we will know that we do not deserve anything so wonderful. As we don those glory-bright robes, we will know that we are welcomed in that celestial banquet hall only because our Savior Redeemer chose to wear ragged, sin-splattered clothes in our stead. We will sit at His banquet table only by His grace.
from A Word from Home
Ardis Stenbakken (editor) | Review & Herald (2005)
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