TITLE: The King's Gifts
By dee smith
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The Most High King was known as much for his benevolence as his might. He was a mighty king. The other kings in the land looked to him for guidance and protection. He always knew this day would come, but he did not look forward to it with anticipation, nor with dread. He knew what had to be done and only he could do it. Everyone and everything depended upon him. He had had many victories in the past and this would be no different. He must set his face to the battle at hand. The other kings knew he was brilliant as a military strategist. He had won numerous times, even though he was out numbered 1000 to one. But, he also knew the high price of war. No one knew better than him what was going to be the true cost of this battle. Still, he must go. No time to delay.
He rose in the morning, kissed his Queen good morning and sat on the edge of the bed to tell her the plan.
“The day has come,” he began. She knew what this meant. She sat up and listened very carefully to his instructions.
“You must deliver the gifts to the people. I will explain I am leaving, but I do not have the time to hand out each gift according to the needs. You must make those decisions. The people and I are counting on you.”
“I know. I will carefully consider each person and what they bring with them and what they will need to function in this time. I only wish you could have had more time with them. They seem so weak.”
“No. I have prepared them for you. You are in charge now. Stand and face them with all the confidence of my power and authority. I have appointed you to go in my stead.”
“I know. I will care for them as you have done. What can I do to help you prepare for your journey?”
“Nothing. I am prepared. I have prepared for this day from the beginning. Now it is upon me and I know what must be done.” With that the king left the room.
His servants met him in the hallway and began the necessary preparations. There was so much to do in what seemed so little time. The army was roused and they mounted up ready to ride into battle behind their King as they had so many times before. Yet, somehow this time seemed different. What was it? No one knew exactly—they just felt it in the air.
By mid-morning the supplies and weapons were loaded on the wagons and everyone was ready to leave. The King called the people together to deliver a farewell speech.
“The time has come for me to go. There is a battle that must be won or all is lost. I need every one of you to be strong. My Queen shall rule in my place. I have given her all my authority. You must do as she commands. The stakes are very high. This will be a costly battle. It will be a long fight, but we will be victorious. Do not lose courage or hope. My Queen is here. She has been chosen for this very day and she alone has the wisdom needed to ensure our victory. Do not question her guidance. She and I will be in touch and communicate throughout the battle. She alone will have the ‘big picture’. I cannot stress enough the importance of listening to her. I am going to be giving you gifts through her. These gifts are to be used to help each other through this tough time. They are not given lightly nor should they be handled lightly. I am going now, but I will return.”
The king gave the Queen one last kiss. She held her head high and smiled; but in her heart she was concerned. She also knew what this battle would cost and what she would need to do to ensure the victory.
The Queen called the servants together and began to make the necessary preparations for distributing the gifts. There would be a special ceremony with a celebratory feast. The gifts needed to be wrapped and labeled. She needed to determine who got what. She would spend 50 days among the people, watching and evaluating their strengths and weaknesses. This was important, so she would take her time. During the 50 days of preparation, the servants would wrap the gifts and prepare the banquet halls and food. Everything must be prepared. Musicians would have special music to play and each person needed to be seated at the table which corresponded to their town or village. So much to do, yet it would all get done. She would see to that.
So she instructed the servants to prepare for her journey. She would be travelling alone. The servants arranged for her to stay in various inns throughout the kingdom. She did not fear the people, for they loved her as much as they loved the King.
Her first stop was a small town with only one inn. She knocked on the door and was greeted with surprise. No one expected the Queen to be traveling alone. The townspeople gather in the inn to meet with her.
“Exactly what is going on?” asked the mayor.
“I am here to see what you need for the hard times to come and to ensure you receive what you need. I will be talking to each of you. You all have an important role in this battle to ensure victory. I need to equip each one of you accordingly.”
No one knew exactly what she meant, but they loved her so they trusted her. She took inventory of the town’s reserves and supplies. She made a list with everyone’s name and what their role would be. She knew exactly what gift the King wanted each one to have.
This same scene played out in every village and town throughout the kingdom. No one could imagine what she was doing or why. They just shrugged their shoulders and answered her questions.
On the 49th day, she returned to the castle. All the preparations had been made as she had instructed. Each place had a place card indicating who would be sitting there. The musicians were ready and sounded perfect. The Queen was pleased.
The morning of the 50th day, the people started arriving. Those who lived farther away arrived early as they would need to find lodging. This was to be a special day and they had long journeys afterward. As the day wore on, more and more people arrived. The streets were crowded. Everyone was talking about what was going to happen. Although no one knew for sure, everyone had a guess.
“It’s some kind of party”.
“Can’t be. The King said it was going to be tough times ahead, why would we party?”
“No, I spoke with a servant of the King and it’s definitely a party.”
“Well, that’s not what I heard. It’s a ceremony with gifts.”
“Gifts??? Are you crazy? We don’t need gifts in a time of war.”
“Maybe not, but that’s what I heard.”
“Me too. Definitely lots of gifts.”
“You guys hit the wine a little early???”
And so it went on throughout the day. Finally, evening came and the doors to the banquet halls were opened. “Wow!” The people were amazed. They had never seen such a festive place. Oh, yes this was going to be a party to end all parties. Everyone filed in and took their seats.
Soon the servants were bringing in the food. And such food--all kinds of roasted meats, freshly cooked vegetables and lots of fresh fruit. Everyone was eating and laughing and enjoying themselves. Then dessert was served. Such delights as they’d never seen before. Cakes, cookies, pies, ice cream and more fruit tarts. As everyone ate their fill a silent hush came over the room. The Queen rose.
“My dear subjects, as you know the King has left for battle. It will be long, but he didn’t want you to worry. This lavish banquet was held in your honor. Your King loves you and wants you to know you are on his mind and in his heart. He has instructed me to give each of you a gift to be used to help your neighbors through these tough times. You will need to use your gifts for the benefit of each other and work together.
Our kingdom and way of life are being challenged by a vicious, evil king. He will stop at nothing to try to destroy everything you have and even kill you. Your King has gone into battle to secure your victory. Now is the time for you to do your part. But, your part must only be done out of love for each other and the King. If you do it out of obligation or duty or grudgingly we will all lose.”
No one spoke. They just stared at the Queen. What was she talking about? Why did I have to love my neighbor? He was mean. He wasn’t worthy of being loved by me or anyone else. Did the King know about all of this?
The Queen continued, “I know this is hard. I will help you learn to truly love each other as the King and I love you. You all have value and worth. If you did not the King would not have bothered to fight this battle for your sakes. Now I will call your name and give you the gift the King has prepared especially for you.”
Tom couldn’t believe his luck. He was getting his gift first. He was wondering why he was being so honored. As the Queen approached him, his mind wandered off. What would it be? He was a baker by trade. Did the King require his services on the front line? Was he going to get a new oven and pans to bake for the troops?
Soon the Queen was directly in front of him. She held out a small package. Tom was disappointed, but tried not to show it. How can there be anything good in such a small package, he wondered to himself. As he reached out to receive the gift, the Queen smiled at him. “Don’t worry. You have a very important job in this battle. The package may seem small, but there are no small gifts from the King.”
Tom was growing more and more excited to see what he would get. He opened the package and just stared. It seemed to be an empty package. With questioning eyes he looked at the Queen. She reassured him with these words, “You have been given the gift of never ending supplies. As you use your supplies they will not dwindle. You will have more than enough to sell and give to the poor. You your gift wisely and bless the King and kingdom”. Tom still didn’t know what to make of this gift. He quickly mumbled a thank you and sat down.
Harry the butcher was next. After seeing what Tom got he had no idea what to expect. The King was so gracious and always gave good gifts, but Tom’s seemed rather strange. The Queen pronounced the following blessing on Harry as she gave to him his gift. “May you always give from your abundance and your heart, never begrudgingly. You will be able to see and know the quality of the meat you purchase prior to anyone else. You also will have a never ending abundance of animals to choose from. Your meat will bless both King and subject. Do not be afraid to follow your love for the King.”
Sue was next. She received the gift of peace-maker from the Queen. It seemed a strange gift for a time of war, but she trusted the King and Queen without reserve.
Dana, the mayor, was given the gift of leadership and wisdom. The Queen encouraged him to use the gifts wisely as many depended upon his leadership.
Mark, the town’s doctor, was given a gift of healing. Everyone was encouraged by this gift as the dread of battle was beginning to dawn on them. This would be a very necessary gift as many would be wounded in battle. Many wondered if the gift would cover those who were dying. If so, would Mark be leaving for the battle field? The Queen did not address this concern. She seemed content to just give the gifts and blessings.
The ceremony lasted several hours, as there were many people to give gifts to. Each one of them received a gift and a blessing. There were as many different gifts as there were people. Everyone seemed to have a different gift. Yet, all of the gifts seemed to make sense. All were necessary for victory.
When all the gifts had been given out, the Queen looked out over the people she loved as encouraged them once again to use the gifts to help each other through this difficult time. She reminded them the gifts were from the King himself and he was counting on them. It was only as they worked together using the gifts that victory would come.
After a final blessing and a song, the people left the banquet halls.
Tom and Harry had come together so naturally they left together. As they walked back to town they were discussing the gifts they’d been given.
“So what do you think?” , Harry asked.
“I’m not sure. I can hardly wait til morning to see what happens. Tomorrow should be a big meat day”.
“I think I will bake up some cakes and loaves of bread tonight. I am too excited to sleep”.
The conversation drifted off as each man got lost in his own thoughts. These were really exciting times to be alive. How long would the battle last? No one knew, but with these gifts it really didn’t matter too much—or so they thought.
That night as Tom mixed the ingredients for his famous cakes, he noticed the flour and eggs seemed to replenish themselves. Sure enough, the gift from the King was working. Wow! Now he could sell his goods and make lots of money. He would have everything his heart desired. He began to day dream about ways to spend his new found wealth.
Harry got up early and began to slaughter the animals and prepare the meat for sale. Wow! This is awesome. Look at all the meat on these animals. I will have more than enough to sell. I will be rich. He too began to daydream of all the new treasures he would purchase.
As they opened their shops, sure enough people began to buy all their goods. They had sold out by noon and decided to close up shop early. They met for coffee to discuss their good fortune. How could they be so lucky to be so blessed by the King. He must really be impressed with them.
They talked for most of the afternoon. As they were leaving, feeling very proud of themselves, a poor widow approached them as asked for help. She had lost her job recently and was out of food for her children. Did they by any chance have any scraps she could have?
Tom looked at Harry. Harry looked at Tom. What was it the Queen said about giving? They began to think, why did this always have to happen to them? Of course they would have to give her something. If not the Queen might get wind of it and take back the gifts. They slowly drudged across the street and back to their shops. Not only did they have to give their goods away, they had to make something to give her! What a pain. They were looking forward to a relaxing evening. Now they had to work!
The widow didn’t know what to think. She was so grateful for the food. Her children were waiting at home. They hadn’t eaten all day for the last two days. She didn’t want to beg, but they were hungry and needed food. Should she apologize for the inconvenience she caused? She certainly didn’t expect them to work all evening to give her food. They seemed so upset. What should she do?
As Tom and Harry packaged up the food and shoved it at her, all she could think of was to thank them. She promised to repay them as soon as she was able and quickly left their shops. She hurried home and fed her children. They had a wonderful meal. After dinner, she was getting ready to clean up when she noticed there was food left over. That seemed strange as Tom and Harry had carefully measured out just enough bread and meat for one meal. How could there be leftovers? She didn’t know and she didn’t care. She now had some food for tomorrow. She just blessed the King for his gifts, cleaned up and went to bed.
Tom and Harry weren’t as grateful for the gifts. They were counting up the loss from giving the food away. They forgot the blessing of the never ending supply. They were too focused on themselves and what it cost them. They felt entitled to the blessings and gifts from the King.
Everyone in town was so excited as they began to use their gifts. They blessed each other. Those who could pay did. Those who could not did not. Only Tom and Harry seemed upset with this arrangement. It seemed more and more people depended upon them to give the bread and meat away. They were supposed to be getting wealthy from these gifts, but they seemed to be poorer. How could that be? They began to blame everyone else for their perceived misfortune. “If everyone worked as hard as we do then we’d all benefit and we would be paid”. “You’re right”, agreed Tom. “I think we need a town meeting to tell all these lazy people to get with it. We want to be paid.”
So they began to prepare their speech for the town meeting. Dana the mayor was very surprised that Tom and Harry demanded a town meeting. They refused to discuss why the meeting was so important. They just reassured Dana it was necessary. So Dana, in good faith, trusted them and called a town meeting.
Everyone in town came to the meeting. Tom and Harry stood up.
“We are tired of working so hard to just give our bread and meat away. You people need to work as hard as we do so you can pay us what we are worth. We have families to support and we ALWAYS pay you for what we receive.”
The townspeople were stunned. No one had any idea this is how Tom and Harry felt. No one was sure how to respond. They had worked just as hard as Tom and Harry, but they weren’t charging the poor, so they were a little short on cash. The townspeople agreed to stop getting food on credit and to pay for everything they got. The exception was made for the poor. They decided to get together and put money in a fund, controlled by the mayor, to pay for the food the poor people received.
Tom and Harry seemed satisfied with this arrangement. That is until it came time for them to contribute to the poor fund. They put in a penny each and said it was all they could afford. Bill and Harriet, who collected the donations, just rolled their eyes and left. Why fight it. These two were too worried about themselves to think about the consequences of their actions.
Tom and Harry continued to be unhappy. Nothing seemed to satisfy them. One day Tom decided he’d had enough of baking. He was going to be town mayor. He would run in the next election and win! Harry decided if Tom were mayor, he should replace Bill and Harriet in collecting and distributing the poor fund. They would need less if he were in charge.
So the campaigning began. The campaign was very dirty. Tom ran down the mayor so badly that people lost confidence in him. He was voted out of office. Tom was now the mayor. Of course, he didn’t have the gift of leadership, but no matter. How hard could it be? He’d just tell people what to do and they’d do it. Harry was thrilled as he now had control of the poor fund.
Now the real fun began. Tom started barking orders at people. They would just look at him and do whatever they wanted. He was after all just the baker. Who did he think he was to tell them what to do? Things went downhill very quickly. The poor fund never seemed to have enough to pay for their needs. Merchants were arguing in the streets with the service vendors. They had the REAL products. All the service people did was serve. The merchants decided they didn’t need any help from the service people, so they refused to pay them. The service people refused to fix anything or help anyone without being paid. Mark led the revolt against the merchants. He pointed out most of the products the merchants sold were not necessary to survive. These were tough times, so people needed to tighten their belts. And so the arguments went.
Finally, Sue stepped in. She now knew why she had been given the gift of peace maker. Her gift was especially needed now. She met with Karen who had been given the gift of encouragement. Together they worked out a plan to restore the town. By now everything in town was broken down and people were starving. Something needed to be done and now.
Tom decided he would call a town meeting. This would show he was still in charge. People came just to see what Tom would do. They rather hoped he would fall on his face so they could laugh at him. Harry came to try to get more money out of them.
Tom called the meeting to order and Sue rose to speak. Everyone was surprised as Sue seemed rather soft spoken and quiet. What on earth did she have to say? Why was she wasting their precious time?
Karen stood beside Sue as she spoke. “You all know me. I don’t like to confront anyone. I truly desire peace. But the time for me to speak up has come. We need to restore order in this town. All the other towns in the kingdom are doing well. We have lost several families to other towns because of all the fighting. Our town is in ruins. Yet the stubbornness continues. What will you say to the King when he returns? How will you account for your gifts? We need to end this tonight. Tom, you need to go back to the bakery. You are a gifted baker. No one can bake like you. We need you to use your gift. We are starving without you and Harry. Harry, no one can cut meat like you. No one can produce the meat you do. Please, go back to your shops. All the rest of you need to use your gifts as the King intended. Mark you need to heal this town. You have a healing touch. I want you to touch each person in the name of the King, using your gift of healing and end this nonsense!”
Everyone was stunned. Sue made sense. They had lost several families and they were going to die themselves if they didn’t stop.
Mark stood up and apologized for not using his gift. He then began to touch each person. As he touched them, the hatred and bitterness seemed to just flow out of them. Soon they were all crying and hugging each other. Even Tom and Harry let go of their resentments. Dana was put back in office as town mayor.
The next day everyone began to chip in and clean up the town. The women made large platters of food and set up tables in the streets. The children set chairs around the tables and set the tables with silverware, plates and cups. The men worked until noon. Everyone sat down and blessed the King for his wisdom in giving the gift of peace maker to Sue and encouragement to Karen.
After lunch, the men began to work on the town again. It took several days, but soon the town was restored. Everyone worked hard and they were all proud of the job they had done together.
Unbeknownst to them the King had finally won the battle. He surprised them just as they finished cleaning up after dinner. No one knew what to say when they saw him. Had he heard about their fighting? How would they account for the gifts he’s given? Was he mad?
The King walked up and down the streets of the town. He looked over everything. The people had gathered at the town hall and were waiting to see what he would say. The King entered the hall and smiled. He was pleased with them. Then he spoke.
“I know it has been a long and hard battle. I know you all learned some difficult lessons. I gave each of you gifts I knew you would need. It doesn’t work when you try to use someone else’s gifts. You can’t be jealous of each other because that will lead to bitterness. You can’t try to profit from my gifts because they will vanish. These gifts were given to benefit each other. As you work together they will flourish. You will prosper as one or die as individuals. I can see you all have learned these lessons. I am proud of you for hanging in there and learning the lessons. Sue you have done well as a peace maker. I am making you an ambassador to other kingdoms. You will speak on my behalf. Karen you have been faithful in encouraging others. You will now be rewarded for your faithfulness. You will be given a room in my palace and will counsel the downtrodden and poor among my people. Dana you have been a good leader and your reward will be to be in charge of my house servants. You will be responsible for all the daily routine tasks in the palace. Mark you will be the head physician in my kingdom as your reward. Tom and Harry you will be in charge of all preparations for all the banquets. Each of you will be given more responsibility because you have proved faithful in the responsibility I gave you.”
Everyone in town was given a new assignment. All were stunned by the generosity of the King. He must have known what happened. That was apparent from his speech. But he forgave them and praised them for their faithfulness. Who would have thought this would be the ending? Actually, it was the beginning of another adventure…
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