“Ding, ding…dong, dong…” the doorbell rang out in descending chimes arousing Duke, the resident Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, from his morning nap on the master bed. With ears perked he barked in excitement, jumped off the plush comforter and raced down the spiral staircase toward the front door.
“There he is again,” declared Martha shaking her head back and forth, and surrounded by stacks of papers and to-do lists. In preparation for the women’s retreat she saved the latest draft of her presentation entitled, Seven Steps to Righteousness, and heaved a sigh of annoyance. She removed her reading glasses and dropped them on her open Bible.
Emerging begrudgingly from her office, she caught her coiffed reflection in the hall mirror. Pausing to check her hair, she brushed bran muffin crumbs off the front of her cashmere sweater and straightened her cross necklace.
Approaching the front door, Martha paused to bare her teeth in a display of hospitality. Duke sat behind her in great expectation, his tail swishing vigorously across the hardwood.
“Good Morning!” she greeted her guest in a sing-song manner as she opened the door.
“Good Morning, Martha,” he echoed, holding carefully a large-sized garment box tied with a delicate purple ribbon and two miniature golden bells nestled within it. “I’ve been looking forward to seeing you in your attire,” he espoused. With a grin on his face, he extended his hand down to Duke for a licking.
Martha recognized with a hidden glance her full name written in gold-embossed cursive across the package. “Oh,” she insisted, “you don’t have to come all this way to give me gifts.” She closed the door behind him and immediately drew her attention to straightening the framed family photos on the small table nearby.
“Fundamental,” he explained slowly, his sincerity probing her darting eyes, “and will fit you perfectly.” She turned a sober glance toward the box still in his arms. Duke stared at him with anticipation, eagerly awaiting more attention.
“Oh, you are just too thoughtful,” Martha retorted formally, backing away from him toward the kitchen. She began blinking repeatedly, fingering the corner of her eye as if trying to clear it of an irritation.
Noticing her resistance, her guest gave a look of concern. “Here, Martha. I’ll leave this on the dining room table for you,” he offered in accommodation as he placed the box with care.
“You don‘t have to do that,” she remarked, still fidgeting with her eye.
Duke’s warm, upturned belly lay on display beneath Martha’s guest. He smiled and lowered a knee delivering a generous dose of affection, Duke’s eyes locking in on his. He had arranged years ago at the breeder’s home for Martha to select this particular puppy from the rest of the litter, specifically because of Duke’s trusting nature. Unfortunately, after six years, Duke’s disposition hadn’t worn off on her at all.
As her guest stood, Martha hurried suggestively toward the door, opening it for him.
“Have a blessed day!” she stood waiting for him to approach the open door, baring her teeth again. He lowered his head slightly, turned and passed over the threshold.
“You, too, Martha,” he replied and started down the brick steps. She closed the door behind him.
Good grief– doesn’t he have anything better to do? she wondered to herself, leaning back on the door, briefly closing her eyes. She noticed Duke with his tail wagging wildly, jumping up on the living room sofa to gape out the front window. She rolled her eyes at him. Martha bee-lined for the dining room table and grabbed the box.
Having made his way to the bottom of the brick steps, Martha’s guest turned onto the neighborhood sidewalk. Her large bay window welcomed his piercing glance for a passing moment. As he continued on, his eyes began to fill with pools of sorrow.
Spotlighted by the mid-morning rays streaming in through the rear kitchen window, Martha had been visible from the sidewalk. In to the back of the closet she had leaned in to store the precious unopened gift. It now lay stacked away all the others He had brought.
Closing the closet door firmly, she whisked her hands in relief and returned to her office to finish preparing her important presentation.
For being ignorant of the righteousness that God ascribes [which makes one acceptable to Him in word, thought, and deed] and seeking to establish a righteousness (a means of salvation) of their own, they did not obey or submit themselves to God’s righteousness.
to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them a garland for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah, that he may be glorified.
But when the king came in to behold the guests, he saw there a man who had not on a wedding-garment:
and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding-garment? And he was speechless.
Then the king said to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and cast him out into the outer darkness; there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.
For many are called, but few chosen.
For if, by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one; much more shall they that receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, even Jesus Christ.
and put on the new man, that after God hath been created in righteousness and holiness of truth.
For neither is circumcision [now] of any importance, nor uncircumcision, but [only] a new creation [the result of a new birth and a new nature in Christ Jesus, the Messiah].
Let us rejoice and be exceeding glad, and let us give the glory unto him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
And it was given unto her that she should array herself in fine linen, bright and pure: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they that are bidden to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are true words of God.