The great Shah Abbas, who reigned magnificently in Persia, loved to mingle with the people in disguise. Once dressed as a poor man, he descended the long flight of stairs, to the tiny cellar where the fireman was tending the furnace.
The king sat down beside him and began to talk. At meal time the fireman produced some coarse, black bread and a jug of water and they ate and drank. The Shah went away, but returned again and again for his heart was filled with sympathy for the lonely man. He listened in love, and the fireman opened his heart and loved his friend in return.
At last the emperor thought, “I will tell him who I am, and see what gift he will ask.” So he said, “You think me poor, but I am Shah Abbas your emperor.” He expected a petition for some great thing, but the man sat silent, gazing on him with love and wonder. Then the king said, “Haven’t you understood? I can make you rich and famous.”
“Yes, my Lord, I understood. But what is this you have done, to leave your palace and glory, to sit with me in this dark place, to partake of my coarse food, to care whether my heart is glad or sorry? Even you can give nothing more precious. On others you may bestow rich presents, but to me you have given yourself. It only remains for me to ask that you never withdraw this gift of your friendship.”
So it is when Jesus comes. He has promised to be with us for all time. Why then should we fear or want anything? We live no longer out of our own meagre ration but out of his infinite supply.
“And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”