Years ago, after we had finished a difficult project in Jamaica and put mission team members on planes to return home, my husband and I decided to go out to a nice restaurant to eat. We had had our fill of ackee and saltfish for breakfast, Jamaican patties for lunch and curried goat for dinner. From a distance we had noticed a castle on the sea and thought it might be good place to try. We expected it to be expensive but we dressed in our finest touristy whites and decided to splurge and eat at a restaurant that would offer variety and quality food.
When we arrived, the only door that we could find was through a bar. We received immediate attention. A gentleman in black suit and tie approached us, and with a sneer to his British accent said to Dave, “Sir, I don’t believe that you should be here.”
“Oh, we came just for a meal,” Dave said. “We didn’t come to stay at the resort.”
“Sir,” the maître de said, “This is not the place for you. We cannot serve you.”
It was late and dark and we were hungry and there were no other restaurants nearby. We looked at each other and thought, “We had dressed up in our best, so it can’t be that we aren’t allowed to eat here. Maybe it’s too late for dinner.”
“Could we just get a sandwich or something here at the bar?” Dave asked.
With disdain, the man said, “Sirrrrr. I cannot allow you to eat here! You would be embarrassed to dine here.” And he dismissed us with a flip of his hand.
We left, hungry, angry, still feeling like we looked pretty good, and feeling the man was an unbearable British snob.
Years later, while reading a Conde Nast travel magazine, I saw a picture of the Castle. We had stumbled into the Trident Castle where season rates were $8000 a night or $52,500 per week. Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise, Robin Williams, Glenn Close, Robin Leach and many more celebrities vacationed there.
The gentleman who met us in the bar knew at a glance that we did not fit in this setting and we would be embarrassed to be seated with others in the dining room. In our eyes, we looked good and “cleaned up real nice.” We had put on our best clothes, but our best was not good enough.
Most of us feel that morally speaking, we “clean up pretty good.” We do good deeds and don’t purposefully hurt other people. Surely we clean up well enough to enter heaven. In God’s eyes, though, our “righteousness is like filthy rags.” Unless we are clothed with the righteousness that comes through faith in Christ, we will be stopped at the door and dismissed with, “Away with you. You don’t belong here.”
Martha Hawn VanCise ©2015 www.signpostsonhightrails.com