What a long exasperating day! Emma was tired and hungry – grumpy hungry. But she wanted to sort through her mail before dinner.
She opened the first envelope in the stack - a beautiful invitation, penned in lovely calligraphy:
“Congratulations! You have been chosen to receive one complimentary dinner at the newest restaurant in town, “The Hungry Lion”. We guarantee our menu will please your palate and satisfy your hunger. Hope to see you soon!”
How ‘bout now, I’m starving.
She opened a second envelope and pulled out a plain card with three words:
“Come and dine.”
Weird. She tossed it in the trash, and ran out the door to The Hungry Lion.
Bright lights illuminated the restaurant’s trendy architecture and fountain at the entrance. She stepped inside.
It was not what she expected. The room was circular, and extremely dark. A man approached.
“Welcome!” he crooned. “Are you hungry, my dear?”
“Yeah, starving actually.”
“Wonderful! Our restaurant is a bit unique. We serve each course in a different room, according to YOUR appetites. Where would you like to begin?”
Emma looked around at the circle of closed doors, each brightened by a red light. The door to her left was labeled, “Appetizer.”
“I guess I’ll start with that one,” she said.
He opened the door, gave her a gentle nudge inside, then closed it behind her.
Tables, heavy-laden with every imaginable food greeted her. Not just appetizers, but entrées, breads, desserts, salads, and beverages. She was puzzled. Wasn’t this supposed to be the “appetizer” room? Her empty stomach growled. She grabbed a plate, filled it to overflowing, and ate until she could eat no more.
A knock on the door startled her and in swept the host.
“Did you enjoy it?” he asked.
“Absolutely! What’s next?”
“Oh, LOTS more. Come with me…” She followed him to the door and noticed it had a different label on the inside. It read, “Gluttony.”
“Why is the sign different on the inside?” she asked the man. He murmured something about “renovation”, and quickly pulled her out of the room. Strangely, the acute hunger she’d felt before immediately returned.
He led her to the next room, “Salad”, and shoved her inside. She suddenly found herself on a stage, in the center of a spotlight, surrounded by wild applause. An audience tossed roses at her feet and chanted her name, “Emma! Emma! Emma!” She blushed, not knowing what she had done to deserve these accolades. She never felt so happy, so full. But all too soon, the applause faded, the lights dimmed and the host yanked her toward the exit. She glanced at the back of the door: “Pride”.
The “Entrée” room left her giddy as she filled her pockets with cash and expensive jewelry and tried on designer clothes in the maze of walk-in closets. Upon leaving, she forgot to look at the door: “Love of Money.”
She finally entered the “Dessert” room, which gave her indescribable pleasure. I can’t imagine ever feeling hungry again after THIS room, she thought. However, on the way out the door labeled “Lust”, a massive void entered her soul, and she looked for a place to hide from her shame.
Emma wanted out. She sank to her knees and began to cry.
Then she remembered the other invitation.
Come and dine.
A flicker of yearning began in her heart, not her stomach, and she whispered a hesitant, “Please…”
Without warning, an exit sign appeared over an open door. Emma ran outside and nearly stumbled over a rustic old sign. She read, “All man’s efforts are for his mouth, yet his appetite is never satisfied.” Ecclesiastes 6:7
Emma trembled at the truth of those words and looked across the street. She saw a small unpretentious building with the words, “Come and Dine”, painted along its roofline.
As she staggered toward its entrance, the door slowly opened. A man sat at a table in the center of an empty room. His eyes were kind, his voice gentle when he smiled and spoke to her, “Emma, welcome! I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger.”*
He motioned for her to sit down, opened a Book on the table, and began to read.
She listened to His words. But she did more than listen to the words, she “ate” them…and they became to her the joy and rejoicing of her heart.
And she was filled.
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