We all get invitations to certain events or activities. I got this invitation in the mail for a dinner party. It stated to ” come as you are ” on the invitation. As I arrived, I wasn’t sure it was the right place. I shook my head in disbelief. This couldn’t be the right place. After all, I couldn’t possibly be welcomed here. I had been given an invitation several times, by several different people, ( thought it was Amway or something), but I had finally decided to see what this place was all about. But, this just couldn’t be the right place. I glanced down at the invitation in my hand. I scanned past the words, “COME AS YOU ARE. NO JACKET REQUIRED.” I was in the right location.
I looked through the window and saw a room full of people whose faces seemed to glow with joy. All were neatly dressed in fine garments and appeared strangely clean as they dined at this exquisite restaurant. Ashamed, I looked down at my own tattered clothing, covered in stains. I was dirty, in fact filthy. A foul smell seemed to consume me and I couldn’t shake the grime that clung to my body. As I turned around to leave, the words from the invitation seemed to leap out at me. “COME AS YOU ARE. NO JACKET REQUIRED.”
I decided I had come this far and I would give a shot. I opened the door to this restaurant and walked up to a man standing behind a podium. “Your name, miss?” he asked with a smile. I mumbled without looking up “Wendy.” He didn’t seem to notice the filth that I was covered in and he continued, “Very good, miss. A table is reserved in your name. Would you like to be seated?” In shock, I said “Yes, sure.”
He led me to a table and, sure enough, there was a placard with my name written on it in a deep, dark red. As I looked over the menu I saw things like, “peace, joy, blessings, confidence, assurance, hope, love, faith, and mercy.” I realized that this was no ordinary restaurants. I flipped the menu back to the front to see the name of the restaurant. “God’s Grace” was on the front. The man returned and said, ” I recommend the “special of the day.” With it, you are entitled to heaping portions of everything on this menu.” I was getting excited and asked what the special was. He said, “Salvation.” I shouted out almost immediately, “I’ll take it.” But as quickly as I made the statement, the joy left my body A sick, painful ache jerked through my stomach and tears filled my eyes ” Mister, look at me. I am dirty and nasty. I am unclean and unworthy of these things. I would love to have all of this, but, I just can’t afford it.” The man smiled again. “Miss, your check has already been taken care of by that Gentleman over there. His name is Jesus.”
I went over towards Him and in a shaking voice I whispered, “Sir, I will wash the dishes or sweep the floors or take out the trash. I will do anything I can to repay you for all of this.” He opened His arms and said with a smile, “Daughter, all of this is yours. I will clean you up and take away the stains and allow you to feast at My table if you only ask. Remember, the table is reserved in your name. All you must do is ask and accept this gift that I offer you.”
I fell at His feet and said, “Please, Jesus. Please clean up my life. Please change me and seat me at Your table and give me this new life.” Immediately, I heard the words, “IT IS FINISHED.” Something strange and wonderful had happened. I felt new, like a weight had been lifted, and I found myself seated at His table. He said, “The ‘special of the day’ has been served. Salvation is yours.”
We sat and talked for a long time and I really enjoyed this time. He told me, me of all people, that He would like me to come back as often as I liked for another helping from God’s Grace. He made it clear that He wanted me to spend as much time with Him as possible. As it came time for me to go back into the “real world,” He whispered to me softly, ” And Wendy, I am with you always.”
As i was leaving Jesus said something to me that I will never forget. He said, “My daughter, do you see these empty tables throughout this room?” I said that I did and then I asked what did it mean. He said, These are reserved tables, but the individuals whose names are on each placard has not accepted their invitation to dine. Would you be so kind as to hand out these invitations to those who have not joined us yet?” “Of course I will.” He said as I left with the invitations, “Go ye therefore into all nations.”
I walked into God’s Grace dirty and hungry. Stained in sin. My righteousness as filthy rags. And Jesus cleaned me up. I walked out a brand new woman, robed in white. And so I will keep my promise to my Lord. I’ll go. I’ll spread the Word. I’ll share the Gospel. I will hand out the invitations.
Listening to my father preach this to the church, really touched my heart. I thought this would be a good story to share right here at Thanksgiving. As we sit down to feast with our families and friends, JUST COME AS YOU ARE!!!