"'Taste and You Shall See' lies just off Shepherd's Road where Wholesome River meets Cherished Stream. It's a tight squeeze through the gate, but well worth it."
The brochure promised much. Would it deliver?
Probably not, thought Kyle Crispin, a forty-year-old cripple who'd been told he'd never walk. "I hear the guy that owns this place is a real skinflint."
"How can you say that?" chided Curtis Longbody as he maneuvered the wheelchair through the Needle's Eye into the vineyard. It cost him two banged knees, small price to pay to help a bitter friend.
Soon they were sailing onto an ocean of freshly clipped green grass, past numerous grape arbors and assorted fruit trees bursting with delightful colors. Kyle's eyes drank in a smorgasbord of golden yellow, bubbling blue, spicy purple, and sweet pink. The scent of roses filled his nostrils. He took a deep breath.
"It is," said Curtis. "Now to find a parking place."
Kyle wrapped stiff fingers around the silver purse strapped to his lap. "So how much do I have to pay?" he asked.
"Nothing. It's completely free."
Kyle scratched his head. How could "expensive" be "free"?
Curtis finally stopped the chair beneath a pear tree. He removed his backpack, opened it, and took out a clean, white table cloth, wrinkled as a prune. He laid it on the grass. Every crease in the sheet immediately vanished.
Kyle's jaw dropped open. "Wow!"
Curtis smiled. "If you think that's something, watch this." He emptied his backpack of eating utensils and spread them upon the cloth.
Kyle watched in awe as paper plates and plastic cups turned into fine china and sparkling wine glasses.
"It's just like magic!" he cried.
"The proper term is 'miracle,'" said Curtis. "And if you want to experience more - Here, let me help you."
With one arm supporting Kyle's back and the other his two shriveled legs, he deposited him on the plush turf.
Kyle had never felt anything so soft. "It's like a blanket," he remarked. "Only better." He hungrily eyed the place setting. "Where's the food?"
"It's coming. But first, the blessing." Raising his hands, Curtis thanked heaven "for the bounty we shall soon receive."
Right away a delightful spread of fruit, bread, and drinks appeared before them.
"Well, what are you waiting for?" asked Curtis. "Dig in."
Kyle still had reservations. "I don't know. Seems too good to be true. I mean, what about ants, and have those apples been checked for worms? What if a germ lands on me or I get a mosquito bite?" He felt his stomach churn. "I'm allergic to milk, you know."
Curtis broke a loaf of bread and handed some to his friend. "Don't worry. Nothing can harm us here."
Kyle took a cautious bite and chewed. Mmm, delicious. He swallowed, hoping the action wouldn't cause a bout of acid reflux. Much to his relief, the bread not only tasted good, it also soothed his stomach. An amazing sense of unfathomable peace flooded his heart, and it showed.
"Good, isn't he?" asked Curtis.
"Who?" asked Kyle.
"Why, the owner of this place. No man ever poured more sweat or blood into a meal. Got crushed like a grape in the process, but never complained." He poured Kyle a glass of wine. "In remembrance."
Kyle wept, overcome by a strong sense of unworthiness. He knew he didn't deserve such costly fare. But as he drank the wine, he felt his sorrow lift. A marvelous joy began to bubble up from inside him. Without thinking, he jumped to his feet.
"You couldn't buy medicine like this!"
"Kyle, you're walking!"
"I am? I mean, I am!" Kyle began to run and dance around. "Woohoo, this is great! Who'd have thought faith could be so easy? Let's just camp out here and never go home!"
Curtis shook his head. "Sorry, that's not the purpose of this trip. It's just a free sample of God's love, given to help you count the cost of true discipleship."
"I know," said Kyle soberly. "For the way to life is hard, and few find it. In the meantime, let's make the most of this incredible picnic."
And they did.
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