Recently, I received an email from someone in search of an article I wrote for the now-defunct Discipleship Journal magazine. They couldn’t find it online, and wondered if I might have a copy somewhere. It won an honorable mention in the 2007 Evangelical Press Association fiction category, and as I re-read it, it occurred to me that the words of this parable might be relevant to many of us as we jump into the busy routines that go along with this time of year. (I’m preaching to myself here.) Enjoy!
Tina Meets The King
Once upon a time in a not-so-far-away land, there lived a princess named Tina. If you saw Princess Tina living her every day life, you’d never know she was of royal blood. As a matter of fact, Princess Tina had been told that she was royalty long, long ago, but she hasn’t thought about it in years.
Princess Tina had a full life. A home, a family, a job, a dog, a hamster… She belongs to a great church and is very involved there.
As a matter of fact, the only time Princess Tina remembered she was a princess is when she worked in the church nursery. There’s nothing like changing someone else’s dirty diaper to remind a princess of who she really is. But most of the rest of the time, Princess Tina looked just like every other busy woman waiting in the check-out line at the grocery store.
One day, a mysterious messenger rang Princess Tina’s doorbell and handed her a plain brown envelope. She opened the envelope and a single piece of paper fell to the floor. She picked it up, read it, and almost fell to the floor herself.
“Dear Princess,” the letter began. “I am looking for a loyal subject for a special job in my kingdom. Please come to my castle office tomorrow at 10:45 AM to discuss the position.”
Princess Tina freaked out. “The king? Wants me?”
Then she did what any self-respecting princess would do. She ransacked her closet to find the perfect outfit. “Not just any old thing will do. This is a command appearance before the king. The king!” She got on the phone and called all of her friends. “The king asked me to come interview for a job. Can you believe it? Pray for me!”
After a while, Tina ran out of adrenaline. She sat down and the butterflies began to rumble around in her stomach. “How can I just show up at the king’s office? I don’t even know what kind of job this is, but if it’s for the king, it has to be good. I may not know anything about this job, but I know that he is the kindest king on the planet.”
A sudden burst of insecurity gripped her. “Why would he call me? Me? He really doesn’t know anything about me. I think I’d better go prepared with some sort of a snappy presentation that will help him remember me when he decides which of his loyal subjects gets this position.” She leaped to her feet and got to work immediately, and spent the whole night drinking coffee and preparing her presentation.
The next morning, Tina showed up an hour early at the castle ready to make her big impression. The 8 cups of coffee she’d drunk through the long night left her feeling more than a little jittery, and Princess Tina was certain that the butterflies in her stomach had grown to the size of basketballs.
There was a nondescript man sitting at the desk in front of the king’s office doors. Tina walked purposefully across the large, empty room toward him, schlepping her presentation materials with her and talking a mile a minute.
“Hello Sir. My name is Tina and I have the 10:45 appointment with the king. I am so excited to meet him. I am like his number one biggest fan in the kingdom. I can’t believe I got that note. Me? Is that unbelievable or what? I say, it’s unbelievable. Are you busy? No? Hey, would you mind if I practiced my job interview on you? It’s been years since I’ve been on a job interview…and well…I brought a few items that might help to make my qualifications stand out in the king’s mind. You know, even if I don’t get the job, just getting a chance to meet him in person is like the most awesome thing I can imagine. He’s just so wonderful…well, I’m sure you already know that, working for him and all.”
She gulped some air, set down a box of her props and continued at a machine-gun pace. “I really devote myself to being a good citizen of his kingdom. Let me show you my visual aids. First, here’s my good driving citation from the insurance company. I follow all the rules of this kingdom, yes, I do. If the speed limit says 55, I drive 54. Next, here are some pictures of my kids. Jim and I just treasure them. I try to be a good mom – those kids have taught me more than I’ve taught them, I think. I think a willingness to learn is an important quality in an employee, don’t you?”
She fished through her box of items and continued. “My husband Jim…here’s a picture of him….is such a support. He told me that he can’t think of anyone better suited to the king’s service than me. Isn’t that just the sweetest thing you ever heard? He even wrote a letter of recommendation…see? I lead a bible study at church. Here’s my bible. That shows leadership, right? This rattle is to show that I volunteer to work in the church nursery…I am glad to serve there…usually, anyway. I work part-time at a bank. Here’s citation I got when I caught someone in my department stealing money. Don’t you think this will make a good impression on the king?”
Her box empty, she finally ran out of breath. The man gave her a kind smile, and then nodded politely toward the doors to the king’s office. “Have a seat. I’ll let the king know you’re here.”
The man disappeared behind the massive doors for what seemed an eternity. Tina tried sitting, but soon found herself pacing the floor, waiting…and waiting….and waiting. At last, a voice over the intercom boomed out across the empty room, “The king will see you now.”
She gathered up her last fragments of courage along with her box of stuff, fueled by all that caffeine, and entered the room. The man who’d been sitting at the desk in the foyer walked over to her, took the box from her trembling arms, set it in a corner, and motioned her to a chair at a massive desk at the far end of the room. After she was seated, he walked over and sat down across from her at the desk.
“Princess Tina, I choose you.”
His words didn’t make sense to her at first. Why was this assistant sitting in the king’s chair? What on earth was he talking about?
He smiled, and said again in a gentle voice. “I choose you.”
Slowly, the truth dawned on her. The moment she looked into his eyes, she understood. She fell at his feet in awe and looked wildly around the room for her box of stuff, desperately trying to remember her speech as she babbled nervously. “I…uh…well…it’s you, it’s really you…I always wondered what you looked like…and well…I didn’t know it was you out there…and well, I’d like to try to do my presentation…I can do it better…I have more stuff to show you…and…”
A single tear ran down his weathered cheek. Without ever taking his eyes from her, he whispered, “I choose you.”
Without warning, she began to sob. She looked across the room at the box with all of her stuff in it and saw it for what it really was…good works and effort and energy expended to have something to show for herself to someone. To matter to someone. To matter to the king. And as she sat there before him, she realized that none of it really mattered one bit.
He placed his hand on her bowed head, and in that moment, she felt the embrace of heaven.
At last, she said, “Now that I’m here, all I want to do sit at your feet and listen.”
He smiled and said, “That’s all that I want, too.”
And from that day forth, Princess Tina, chosen one, truly did live…for the first time in her life…happily ever after.