Better to enjoy God than to serve him while in fact ignoring him.
The king turned to him. “I still tingle at the pain and the joy of the time I saved my people from the invader who would have enslaved them. The one thing I have yet to do is celebrate.”
The steward nodded. “Celebration, a very good thing.”
They walked down to the castle grounds, where the king paced the manicured lawn. “Steward, my victory calls for joy across my kingdom. We shall throw a party for every citizen. I will put you in charge.” He paced and stroked his chin. “Make the party festive. I want to hear laughter, especially from those who are exhausted or wounded.”
The steward began writing notes. “Yes, Your Majesty.”
“Make sure there is plenty to eat. No one should go away hungry.”
“And music, I want lots of singing and dancing.”
“Singing. Dancing.” The steward kept writing.
“And Steward, make sure it does not end quickly. I want it to last and last.”
“A long party,” the steward said as his pen continued to scribble.
The steward sent out messengers across the kingdom to inform the subjects of the party. The messengers returned with news that the people were thrilled to hear of the party, and would certainly attend.
This pleased the steward, who began planning and strategizing all that would be required for such a party.
Because many of the kingdom subjects were known to be poorly mannered, the steward ordered that books be written and distributed to teach proper etiquette when coming before the king. They should know how to dress, how to dance properly, and that they must not shout, or run, or slurp their soup.
The steward traveled tirelessly throughout the kingdom and taught seminars on the principles of parties. Knowledge of party principles was essential, because a party with the king was of utmost importance.
He directed the people to rehearse the party so that nothing would go wrong. They worked and worked to get it right.
Some of the subjects did not participate in his seminars and rehearsals. This irritated him. But as long as most of the people participated, he felt certain the minority could be overlooked, and the party would function acceptably.
The steward led the people in preparing the grand hall where the party would be held. They swept and scrubbed. They shopped day and night gathering decorations and food purchased with their own meager funds. They hired musicians and entertainers and speakers. This would be a party like no other.
The day finally came. Music sounded and the party was on. The hall sparkled immaculately, ornamented from top to bottom. Roasts and salads and cakes covered the tables like mountain ranges. The guests, who had learned and strived so well, stood respectfully. Some discussed the nature of parties and how joyful parties should be. Others admired the quality of the musicians. Some took notes on the wisdom of the speakers. Others stood agape at the fabulous decorations.
They moved clumsily in their stiff clothes and left most of the food politely uneaten. Before long, many began dozing. Slouched in chairs or against the walls, they were exhausted from preparing the party.
The steward was pleased, for the party carried on with hardly an error. Most of the guests kept a close eye on the clock and departed as soon as it was socially acceptable.
But from beginning to end of the party, few people noticed the king. Even the steward was too occupied in directing the people to pay attention to the king.
Yet there was the king, eating, laughing, singing, and dancing with a small handful of his kingdom subjects—the ones who had ignored the steward.
For Thought and Discussion
- Is it possible to formalize God out of the church? How do Christians do what the steward did? Give an example.
- Read 2 Samuel 6:14–23. Why do you think David behaved the way he did? Do you feel, or have you ever felt, inhibited in your expression of worship? Could even dancing become a formality? What is the real issue?
- Does the word “enjoyment” describe your relationship with God? Why or why not? After looking at Psalm 84:1–2 and Psalm 119:18–20, what could you do to heighten your relation with God?