Providence Family Ministries
No Jacket Required
I shook my head in disbelief. This couldn't be the right place! Although I had been given an invitation several times by several different people, I knew this couldn't be the right place. Quickly, I glanced down at the invitation. I scanned past the words, "Come as you are, No jacket required" and found the location. Yes, I was at the right place.
I peered through the window of this exquisite restaurant and saw a room full of people whose faces seemed to glow with joy. They were all neatly dressed in the finest garments. Ashamed, I looked down at my own tattered and torn clothing covered in stains. I was filthy with a foul smell that seemed to consume me. As I turned to leave, the words from the invitation leaped out at me......Come as you are, No jacket required."
Mustering up every bit of courage I could find, I opened the door and walked up to the man behind the podium. "Your name, sir?" He asked with a smile.... "Jimmy D. Brown," I mumbled. "Very good sir," the man said, "A table is reserved in your name." We walked up to the table, and sure enough, there was a place card with my name written on it in a deep, dark red. As I browsed over the menu, I realized this was no ordinary restaurant. Listed on the menu were items like, Peace, Joy, Blessings, Confidence, Assurance, Hope, Love, Faith, and Mercy. I flipped the menu back to the front to see where I was. God's Grace was the name of the restaurant.
The man returned and said, "I recommend the "Special of the Day". With it, you are entitled to heaping portions of everything on the menu. Excitedly, I asked, "What is the "Special of the Day?" "Salvation" was his reply. I'll take it, I cried out. As soon as I said it, the joy left my body. A sick painful ache jerked through my stomach and tears filled my eyes. Between sobs I said, "Mister, look at me. I'm dirty and nasty. I'm unclean and unworthy. I'd love to have all of this, but I just can't afford it." The man smiled again and said, "Mr. Brown, your check has already been taken care of by the gentleman over there. His name is JESUS!"
Turning, I saw a man whose very presence seemed to light the room. He was almost too much to look at. I walked up to Him and offered to do anything to repay Him. He opened His arms and said with a smile, "Son, all of this is yours if you will just come unto me. Ask me to clean you up and I will. Ask me to feast at my table and you will eat. Remember, the table is reserved in your name. All you must do is accept this gift that I offer you."
Astonished, I fell at His feet and said, "Please Jesus, please clean up my life. Give me this new life." Immediately, I heard the words, "It is finished." I looked down and white robes adorned my body. Something strange and wonderful had happened. I felt new and I found myself seated at His table. The "Special of the Day" has been served, Salvation is yours," the Lord said.
We sat and talked for a great while and I enjoyed the time I spent with Him. He made it clear that He wanted me to spend as much time with Him as possible. As the time drew near for me to go back outside into the real world, He whispered to me softly, "And lo, I am with you always." And then He asked, "My child, do you see all these empty tables? These are reserved tables, but the individuals have not accepted their invitation yet. Would you hand out these invitations to those who have not joined us yet?" Of course, I said with excitement, as I picked up the invitations. "Go ye therefore into all nations", Jesus said as I turned to leave.
I walked into God's Grace dirty and hungry, stained in sin, my righteousness as filthy rags. But Jesus cleaned me up. I walked out a brand new man... robed in white, His righteousness. So, I will keep my promise to the Lord. I'll spread the Word. I'll share the gospel. I'll hand out the invitations. And I'll start with you. Have you been to God's Grace? There is a table reserved in your name and here's your invitation........... "COME AS YOU ARE, NO JACKET REQUIRED!