Yes, I was at the right place. I peered through the window and saw a room full of people whose faces seemed to glow with joy. All were neatly dressed, adorned in fine garments, and appeared strangely clean as they dined at this exquisite restaurant.
Ashamed, I looked down at my own tattered and torn 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 to leave, the words from the invitation seemed to leap out at me, "Come as you are--no jacket required."
I decided to give it a try. Mustering up every bit of courage I could find, I opened the door to the restaurant and walked up to a man standing behind a podium.
"Your name, sir?" he asked me with a smile.
I mumbled my name without looking up. I thrust my hands deep into my pockets, hoping to conceal their stains. He didn't seem to notice the obvious filth, and said with great respect, "Very good, sir. A table is reserved in your name. Follow me, please."
I couldn't believe what I had heard! He led me to a table and sure enough my name was inscribed on a card in brilliant red.
As I browsed an unusual menu, I saw many delightful items listed. There were things like, "peace," "joy," "blessings," "confidence," "assurance," "hope," "love," "faith," and "mercy." I realized that this was no ordinary restaurant! I flipped the menu back to the front to see the name of the restaurant. "God's Grace" was the name of the place.
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."
He must be kidding. You mean I can have ALL of this? I thought to myself. "What is the 'Special of the day.'" I asked with some trembling in my voice.
"Salvation," was his reply.
"I'll take it," I nearly shouted. Then, as quickly as I made the statement, all joy left my body. Tears filled my eyes as I said, "Mister, I'd love to have all of this, but-- but-- I can't afford it."
The man smiled again. "Sir, your payment has already been taken care of by that Gentleman over there," he said, pointing to the front of the room. "His name is Jesus."
Turning, I saw a man whose very presence seemed to light the room. I found myself walking toward Him, and in a weak whisper I managed to say, "Sir, how can I ever repay you for all of this?"
He opened His arms and said with a smile, "Son, all of this is yours if you just come to Me."
Immediately I felt like a new person. I looked down and my clothes were suddenly white and clean, and I smelled clean.
We sat together at the table and talked for a while. I enjoyed the time with Him. He told me that He would like me to come back as often as possible. He made it clear that He wanted to spend time with me.
Finally, as I stood up to leave, He said ever so gently, "I am with you always." And then He said something that I will never forget, "My child, do you see these empty tables throughout the room?"
"Yes, Lord, I see them. What do they mean?"
"These are reserved tables. Do you see those names so beautifully engraved? These persons have not yet accepted my invitation. Please invite them to the banquet that is waiting for them."
"Of course," I said with excitement.
I walked into "God's Grace" dirty and hungry, stained with sin, covered with filthy rags. Jesus cleaned me up. I walked out a new person, clean inside and out. Have you been to "God's Grace"? There's a table reserved in your name, and here's your invitation....
"Come as you are--no jacket required."
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