Once upon a time, a powerful yet beneficent king adopted a daughter.

This dress was made
especially for her.

Just about the time the princess reached the age at which girls enjoy dressing up and going to balls, the king decided to hold a great and regal ball in celebration of his twenty-five years on the throne.  In addition to all the usual preparations for such a significant event, the king also purchased a beautiful ball gown for his beloved daughter.  This dress was made especially for her.  It was just the right color to highlight her eyes and complexion.  The style and embellishments were exactly what she preferred.  And of course, it fit her perfectly.

In the days before the ball, the princess showed the gown to a few trusted friends.  Each one complemented the princess and expressed what an amazing father she had.  Though feeling a bit undeserving, she agreed that she was truly blessed to be his child and that He knew her so well.

Instead of the beautiful gown
given by her father, she was
wearing an old house dress.

The guests began arriving early on the appointed evening.  Of course, everyone looked beautiful, as those attending a ball should look.  Finally, the princess descended the stairs from her quarters.  Every eye in the ballroom turned to look at her.  But instead of the beautiful, immaculate gown given to her by her father, she was wearing an old house dress, one she had made for herself when she was ten years old.  Even her shoes looked like she had pulled them from the back of the closet without dusting them off.  With slumping shoulders, she trained her eyes on the floor about three feet in front of herself.

As soon as her father, the King, caught sight of her, her rushed to her side.  (Well, he regally promenaded to her side because kings don’t rush.  It’s un-royal.)  The music ceased, and every person in the room stood facing the king and princess in shocked silence.

“My child!” he exclaimed in a whisper.  “Why aren’t you wearing the dress I gave you?”

Her shoulders slumped even further, if that was possible.  She mumbled, “Oh Father, I know this night is about you–a special event to honor your reign and recognize what a wonderful king you are.  I just didn’t want to take away from that.”

“I want you to look beautiful
and to feel good…”

“Look into my eyes,” the king commanded, and the princess dutifully but hesitatingly obeyed.  “Do you see that I love you, my precious child?”  She blinked slowly in response.  “I gave that dress to you because I love you.  I want you to look beautiful and to feel good about yourself.  I enjoy your delight.  When you look good, it makes me look good.  By wearing those ugly, dirty rags, you have embarrassed yourself and me.”  At this last comment, the princess blinked back tears even while nodding in agreement.

“And what is more, my dear one, I know your heart.  I know how you will answer those who compliment you.  I know you will not keep the glory for yourself.  Now, go back to your quarters.  Put on the dress I gave you.  Fix your hair and find your best shoes.  We’ll be waiting.”

“I know you will not keep
the glory for yourself.”

When the princess turned toward the stairs, the orchestra started playing again and the people resumed their dancing, but the king stood in place, staring at the retreating back of the daughter he loved so much.

In a surprisingly short time (considering how long it usually takes teenage girls–especially princesses–to get ready for anything), the princess descended the stairs again.  This time, her back was straight, her shoulders squared, her head held high.  This time, she walked with confidence, looking people in the eye and smiling.  This time, instead of embarrassed, averted eyes, she was welcomed with “ohh”s and “ahh”s.  And to each complement, she replied, “Thank you so much!  My father gave it to me.”

ball gown
This is my princess. She wasn’t a teenager, but the gown fit her perfectly, and she loved it. (c) Carole Sparks

By the end of the evening, everyone at the ball thought even more highly of the king than they had when they arrived…including the princess.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.    -Ephesians 2:10

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.  . . .  All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes [spiritual gifts] to each one, just as he determines.  -1 Corinthians 12:7, 11

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