Because sometimes a truth is better said through a story . . .
The Servant Girl and Her King
Long ago, in a city on a hillside, lived a King. He was a rich and wise king, but not many people came to see him. Every day, the smell of baking bread wafted through his palace as he had his servants bake loaf upon loaf of fresh bread. Placing it upon a long table, the servants would sigh and shake their heads – for they knew there would be few who would come to eat it.
Inside the palace walls lived a little servant girl. She adored her King. Every morning, she would wake up with a smile on her face as she ran in her bare feet to see her King. Kneeling before Him, she would lift her shining eyes as her question reverberated off the palace walls:
“My King! How may I serve you today?”
Every day, he gave her something to do. One day it was to grind the wheat for the bread. Another day it was to wash the long table before the other servants placed the bread upon it. Sometimes he would have her help mix the dough or take the pans from the oven.
And with each new day that she ran to do her King’s bidding, the smell of the fresh-baked bread began to cling to her person more and more.
But something troubled the little servant girl. She could not understand why there were so few people who would come to eat of her King’s delicious bread. She had mixed it, baked it, smelled it, and eaten of it – and she knew how satisfying it was. Sometimes at night, it seemed as if she could hear the cries of the hungry outside the palace and a lone tear would slide down her cheek.
One morning, she leaped out of bed in her usual manner and ran before her King with joy so contagious that the palace seemed to ring with it. “O my King! How may I serve you today?” Came her daily question from a heart of adoration.
This day the King had a very special duty for her. Walking over to the long table full of fresh-baked bread loaves, he picked one up. Handing it to her, he gently took her hand and walked her to the palace gate. As they stood there together, gazing down the streets of the city, he told her what he wanted her to do.
She was simply to take the loaf of bread and give it to the man at the entrance to the city.
He told her the man was expecting her and would be sitting right outside the city gate.
With one last look at her King, the servant girl clutched her precious loaf of bread in her tiny arms and began the walk throughout the city streets.
Soon she came upon the butcher who was chopping up fresh meat for market. He lifted his head as she drew near and exclaimed over that delicious smell of homemade bread. Seeing her grasping the loaf, he asked if she would be willing to sell it – for he could see it was made of the finest ingredients and smelled heavenly. Smiling, she told him that this was not for sale, but the King in the palace had many free loaves. As many as a person could eat. But it would require the butcher to go to the palace to get it.
Walking on, she drew near the schoolhouse where little children were playing in the yard. One child began exclaiming over the smell of someone’s yummy bread and then turned to see the servant girl coming down the street, clutching her loaf of bread. Once again, she had to explain to the children and their teacher that there were many, many loaves of bread just like this within the palace walls. But that they would have to go to the palace and meet the King in order to get the bread.
On and on she went throughout the city streets, never really sure which direction the city gate was.
But as she walked, she left the tantalizing aroma of freshly-made bread.
And to every person that inquired over the bread that she clutched like a precious treasure, she replied the same. The King in the palace had more loaves than they could imagine and it was theirs for the taking, but they would have to go to the palace to get it. Nobody ever needed to be hungry in the night again.
By late afternoon, her tired little bare feet were bleeding and her arms were aching from holding so tightly to her loaf of bread. The sun was beginning to slide down and dusk was coming on when at last she saw the entrance to the city. Finally, she could give her treasure to the man the King said was waiting for her.
Stumbling over the cobblestone entrance, she turned to a man sitting under the shade of an old maple tree. His head was bent so low that she could not tell if he was even awake. “Kind sir! Here is the loaf of bread the King has sent you!”
Lifting his head, the man gazed tenderly at the tiny servant girl. It was her King.
In surprise, she exclaimed, “My King! What are you doing here and where is the man I must give my bread to?” A tear slid down her cheek as she began to be sorry that she had missed the hungry man at the city gate. She had wanted so much to help one person not be hungry today.
Wiping away her tear, the King lifted the tired servant girl and gently said,
“You have done exactly as I wanted you to, my child.
I was the man at the city gate.
You wanted to do this for me, and you have done well!”
She did not understand his reasons, but she knew her King. Trusting in him, she laid her head down on his shoulder and fell asleep.
Pausing a moment with her in his arms, the King looked back through the city.
The little servant girl could not see the throngs of people threading their way through the city streets toward the palace gate. She did not see the butcher or the schoolchildren as they sat down to the table heaped high with the King’s bread. She could not hear the exclamations of delight as they took that first bite that drove away all hunger forever.
But the King had known what she would do.
She would carry the scent of the King throughout the city and the promise of bread to draw the others in.
The King knew. And that was enough for the little girl who adored him.
Copyright of Kendra Graber and Living in the Shoe.