by Curtis Rook
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I received my invitation to attend the King’s banquet
but was too busy to bother, too doubtful to try
so I tossed it aside, onto the hallway table
where it became lost in a clutter of junk mail and fliers.
Then I heard people speak highly of the King and his banquet
people whose opinions I held in respect
and my mind was opened to the new possibility
that the King and his banquet might be a reality.
I managed to find my lost invitation
read through its contents and found it still valid
committed myself to a week from that Tuesday
and hoped I had not suddenly gone out of my head.
When the day arrived I had second thoughts
but I quickly exchanged them for a more concrete resolve
and I prepared myself as best as I could
not knowing exactly what was involved.
I was surprised when the King himself greeted me warmly
I did not expect him to go out of his way for me
but in fact he welcomed me with a large heartfelt embrace
I felt right at home, as though I belonged in that place.
The king escorted me past many long tables
with diners joyfully dining on perfectly served portions
of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness
faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
I was about to take my seat at the King’s request
when something at the back of the hall caught my attention
something vague and obscure but somehow intriguing
so instead of taking my seat, I followed its leading.
“Give careful thought to your ways,” the King dutifully cautioned
and I considered his words but did as I wanted
turned abruptly away from the King and his banquet
heading instead for the rear door exit.
Waiting for me outside the banquet hall door
was a delightful temptation I found to my liking
as though someone had researched my heart and my thoughts
and knew just what would appeal to my innermost nature.
I joined arm in arm with my new found temptation
and together we walked from the banquet hall light
leaving behind the King and his banquet
and entering into the darkness of night.
In the darkness we feasted, my temptation and I
devouring in great quantities as much as we wanted
and having as much as we wanted, we feasted some more
pleasing ourselves as though nothing else mattered.
Other temptations emerged in the darkness
seeking to satisfy an insatiable appetite
and with each new temptation the darkness grew darker
and together we walked deeper into the night.
The darkness seeped into my mind and my heart
a living, expanding cancerous growth
threatening to consume me and make me part of itself
my temptations now demons armed with soul killing death.
Then in that deep darkness I became aware of myself
a self-absorbed glutton, alone and in want
and I realized I had made a terrible mistake
and I wanted to run, to get out of that place.
I thought of the King and his welcoming embrace
the diners contentedly dining on perfectly served portions
I thought of it all, and I longed to return
wishing I had heeded the King and his caution.
The malignant darkness weighed heavy against me
but determined to change, I began to turn back
I groped through the darkness in search of the light
and one by one my temptations fell back into the night.
I made it back where I started, at the banquet hall door
and in the dim light from the banquet hall windows
I saw how wretched I was, my clothes stained and tattered
and I dropped to my knees and wept over my filth.
The hall door flung open, there stood the King
and I cowered in fear of his wrath and rejection
but he extended his hand, pulled me up to my feet
and despite my condition, gave me a heartfelt embrace.
The King led me back into the brightly lit banquet hall
and as we walked I marveled in near disbelief
watching my stained, tattered clothing become fresh and new
I was cleansed from the filth, relieved from my grief.
When we arrived at my seat, my plate was empty
with no perfectly portioned servings of fruit from the vine
so I turned to the King and implored of him why
but the King stood distant and silent, his arms at his sides.
Then I saw for the first time the scars on his hands
I saw his bruises, his welts, and the wound in his side
and I realized his sacrifice and the cost of redemption
my heart broke in pieces as I swallowed my pride.
Wanting no more of myself in the face of his love
I fell prone on the floor, as low as I could go
humbled to the point of complete surrender
I reached out and clung to the hem of his robe.
His light seeped into my mind and my heart
a living, expanding spiritual growth
promising to consume me and make me part of itself
the King now my King, with soul blessing life.
My plate is now full and perfectly portioned
no more and no less than just what I need
and I can say with full certainty and no hesitation
the advice I now give, you should readily heed.
When your invitation arrives, as surely it will
do not ignore or dismiss the King and his banquet
nor idly await a more favorable timing
come to the banquet, and enjoy some fine dining.
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