“Hear Ye! Hear Ye!” the parchment invitation read. “You are invited as Guests of Honor to a dinner fit for royalty…” I’d been eagerly looking forward to this event for weeks. A couple in our church had decided to host a dinner in appreciation for all the pastors, staff members and deacons of our church, along with their spouses, and they were going all out to make it a fabulous and memorable evening. It was a dress affair, so Bob and I got all spiffyed up in our nicest attire and were feeling pretty good about ourselves when we were finally ready to go.
The grandchildren oohed and ahhed when they saw Grandma and Grandpa all gussied up. Even four-year-old Matthew looked up at me shyly and said, “I like it!” Laurie grabbed her camera and took a few pictures. It is very rare when Bob and I get to go out together—and rarer still when it is to a dress-up affair. One of us is usually at home with Robbie. That night, though, Laurie and Fernando were taking care of him and we were free to go.
Our eldest granddaughter had promised to babysit for our pastor and his wife, so we were going to drop her off at their house on the way. We were leaving plenty early because of the Friday night traffic which we knew would be even worse than usual because of the Christmas shoppers out on the road. We finally climbed into our pumpkin-coach (that is, our Taurus) and headed off to the ball.
Five minutes down the road—crash!!! We came over the top of an overpass and the backed-up traffic ahead of us had come to a sudden halt due to the light at the bottom of the hill. We slammed into the car ahead of us with only a split-second’s warning. What a sickening feeling! Because of the heavy traffic we had been going only 15-20 miles an hour. There was significant damage to both cars, but, thankfully, no one was hurt. Shaken up, and bruised a little from the seat belts, but okay—praise the Lord!
We called Fernando to come and get Sara and take her on down to the pastor’s house. Bob and I waited for the police to arrive. We did not know if our car was drivable at that point, or if the officer would even let us drive it. Of course, I was a little upset about the accident (although praising God for His protection!), but I was much more upset about missing the banquet! Our one time to get all dressed up and go to a wonderful event together and we were going to miss it! Tears came to my eyes at the thought.
My tears were wasted. Less than thirty minutes later the police officer told us we were free to go! He did not even give Bob a ticket thanks to his spotless record and the fact that, as the officer told us, accidents happened at that very spot all the time when traffic got backed up. We were minus a headlight, but the policeman gave Bob a paper to show if we got pulled over later in the evening (which we did! The paper worked like a charm!)
We made it to the banquet with ten minutes to spare! I was a bit shaky when I got out of the car, and my wrist and ankles were stiff and sore. I knew they weren’t seriously hurt, but the impact had been on my side of the car, and in that split-second of seeing the accident about to happen, I had braced myself and apparently jammed my wrist and ankles just enough to make them hurt. In the light of the ladies’ room I could see red welts and a bruise across my neck and upper chest where the seatbelt had cut in. Oh well, I would be sore tomorrow, but tonight I was going to enjoy this gala evening!
And enjoy it we did! Every moment was—Wow! My friend Debbie, who is the most talented florist and decorator I have ever seen, had gone all out. The tables were covered in full length white table clothes with red velvet runners trimmed with gold tassels going down the centers. Tall, elegant floral centerpieces and a myriad of candles decked each table. Gold chargers, beautiful dishes and stemware and formal place settings were at each place. The chairs were covered in white also with beautiful gold bows tied around the backs. White lights separated our area from the rest of the fellowship hall, making the “dining room” intimate and cozy in the darkened room lit only by candles and white lights. A pianist and violinist were off to one side providing live music to the setting.
There was no program other than a poem of appreciation that Debbie read at the beginning. There was a good reason for that. The seven course meal took three hours to eat! As the courses came out one by one, each was greeted at every table by a chorus of oohs and ahhs and “Oh, wow!” There was shrimp cocktail served in tall goblets, followed by a beautiful spinach salad topped with thinly sliced apples, crumbled feta cheese, walnuts and a dressing that blended all the flavors perfectly. The third course was butternut squash soup with just a hint of curry and a swirl of sour cream garnish on top, served with rolls and bread and fancy molded pats of butter. Dishes of linguini garnished with shaved parmesan followed the soup, and then came a palate cleanser—goblets with a small scoop of lime sorbet. The main course really had the Wow! factor—whole orange-glazed Cornish hens with a side of fresh steamed string beans. Dessert was not to outdone—chocolate cheesecake topped with fresh raspberries. The whole dinner and atmosphere made us feel that we were dining in the finest, most elegant restaurant to be found (one that we could never afford!) I am so glad we were able to go. As my pastor said, I think it will be an evening we’ll never forget!
For Bob and me, it was a most memorable evening in more ways than one! I have been hobbling around for a couple days, recovering from stiff ankles where they had been jammed, but praising the Lord it was nothing more than that. Bob went around getting estimates for fixing our car which ranged from $2000-$3000 (which will come out of our own pocket. We had just cancelled our collision insurance a month ago since our car is seven years old and has almost 200,000 miles on it. Sigh.) The memories of that beautiful banquet, though, and the heartfelt appreciation behind it, will always outweigh the bad things that happened that night.
It reminds me of the fourth chapter of Philippians. The fourth verse begins by saying,“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” Rejoice always—in the good and the bad. Believe me, we were certainly rejoicing in God’s protection that night! And of course, we totally enjoyed the good things that were provided for us throughout the evening!
Verses six through eight, some of my favorite Scripture, go on to say,“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” It would be easy to focus on the negatives—the accident, the aches and pains, not to mention the thousands of dollars it is going to cost us (especially at this time of year.) We can choose however to focus on the many praises we for which to be grateful.
Paul said in verses eleven through thirteen, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Bad things happen sometimes; good things happen many more times. Whatever happens in our lives, whether it be the Wow! or the Ow!, we need to learn to be thankful and praise Him. We can trust Him always.