Note; One day, a guy named Duke starts hearing the voice of God coming from his macaroni. Being an atheist he believes he is starting to lose his mind when there might something behind this intervention. He becomes inquisitive, wondering if God really exists and starts seeing proof. Finally he decides he wants to become converted and open an Italian restaurant—Macaroni special every Tuesday.
Chapter 1—Just Imagination, Nothing More
Duke Livengood was your average, normal, everyday man who made an honest living. In the morning, he made breakfast, got dressed and set out in his sky blue Toyota and set out for work in the city. His job was rewarding enough, but it was always great to be home when work was through. Duke came home to his faithful companion, Scruffy, who was a loveable old mutt that he had rescued from the shelter a few years ago. Scruffy always welcomed Duke home and Duke didn't mind if Scruffy had been out mucking about in the backyard. A little slobber and dirt didn't hurt Duke one bit.
It had been a horribly hot day and Mr. Livengood had been keeping his fluids up. He had recently finished a rather intense aerobic workout and was famished. Thinking he wanted to make something rather easy and quick to cook, he decided that macaroni would be his best bet. He had some leftover garlic bread he had enjoyed from the weekend before and thought it would be even better once he warmed it up.
Duke sat down and stretched. Scruffy, who had endured a long day of playing outside, had found a spot in the house in the den that was particularly cool, so he curled up into a ball and went to sleep. Readying himself to eat the first bite of macaroni, he heard a rather soft, but powerful voice that caused the hairs on the back of his neck to stand up.
"If you don't make a change in your work habits, Duke Charlston Livengood you won't be on this earth much longer...You have a greater purpose.", the voice said in a rather paternal, commanding tone.
"Who are you, and how do you know my name ?", he asked looking in every possible direction to see where the voice was coming from. The voice was coming from his macaroni. He could hardly believe it. He wondered if someone had put some kind of mind altering drug in his coffee at work but then he remembered the people he worked with weren't spiteful enough to do that.
"I Am known by many Names, Duke. For years you have been ignoring Me, but I have never ignored you. I already know what your response will be, but please don't stop listening to Me.", the voice said, softer, and less demanding.
"Is this some sort of joke ?", Duke questioned, unable to eat, or drink. He was becoming irritable, thinking one of his college buddies was setting him up for a prank.
"No, Duke. Be still and listen. Change your work schedule, or take a vacation. You've been working too hard. If you continue going at the rate that you have been, you'll burn yourself out.", the Voice replied. Duke knew that this voice, that had both qualities of masculinity and femininity was correct. He sighed and lowered his head.
"I still don't believe in you, you realize. But I will follow your advice and take a vacation immediately.", Duke said. He could no longer hear the voice and had finally been able to eat his dinner in peace. He ended the day by watching his favorite TV shows, exercised a little and then threw himself into bed before making plans for his vacation tomorrow.
Chapter 2—Hearing Voices
Duke left the care of Scruffy go to his next door neighbour Marion, who was always a reliable caretaker. He had left instructions for her, packed his bags and began to set out for his trip to Florida. Luckily, it wasn't too terribly far away from where he lived, but driving through Georgia would be a bit of a bother. However, he didn't mind the drive. After all he would be seeing some beautiful sights that he had forgotten since his youth.
On his way to Florida, he heard voices once more. This time, he could swear he was losing his mind. It wasn't the heat that was getting to him since he had been driving in an air conditioned car all the way to his destination, Orlando. When he had made it into his hotel room, the voices started again. This time he had endured enough.
"What do you want from me ?", Duke questioned, becoming very upset.
"Only for you to realize that I love you. I offer you the greatest gift in the world, Duke.
You simply have to believe in Me.", the voice said, gently.
"I am still a skeptic. Give me time, ok ?", Duke said, getting more flustered by the minute.
The voice was quiet momentarily.
"I understand.", the voice answered. And then the voice wasn't heard any longer. But what the voice had said had started him wondering what the voice meant. To search for answers, later, he started flipping through the Bible in his room and then realized where the voice was coming from and what the voice meant.
Chapter 3—Inquiring Mind
Duke had finally thought long enough before giving into his curiosity. He went to the nearest church and started talking to the preacher there.
"I know you're going to think I'm insane, Reverend, but I've been hearing the voice of God. Or I think it's God. I don't believe in God ! I've always been an atheist.", Duke confessed.
"Hearing God's voice isn't madness or delirium. So, you needant worry. Besides, people hear voices when they are lonely. It is just the mechanism of the mind to create a voice. But as for the voice of God, it's very real.",Reverend Jones said, gently. The reverend was a kindly old man with dark eyes framed behind , kinky gray hair and strong weathered hands who wanted to help Duke as much as he could. The congenial black man sat down with Duke and began talking to him about God and Jesus. Duke understood everything that he was hearing but one matter had him stumped. If he had been an atheist all his life, why was God wanting to speak with him ?
Reverend Jones had an answer to all of Duke's big questions but he knew that Duke had to answer the one big question himself. Would he try to understand that God had a greater purpose for him than simply being involved in the dog-eat-dog world of corporate business or would he see that something greater was laying around the bend ? It was evident that only Mr. Livengood knew the answer to this inquiry. It would take time for him to wrap his mind around what had just occurred to him, and being a skeptic made the transition all that much more arduous.
Chapter 4—Decision Made
Before returning home, Duke made a mad dash to the church he had "discovered" in Orlando. He spoke to Reverend Jones and pleaded with him to baptise him as quickly as he could.
"I have to leave tomorrow. It's important for me to be baptised...Now !", Duke said, his voice desperate and wanting.
"Alright. I'll honor your request. There aren't any witnesses but myself and God, but I think that's all a person really needs when making their confession of faith real.", Jones said, leading Duke to the baptismal.
Duke took one step into the chilly water and it caused shivers to run up his spine. He hadn't been in water that cold since he had been in summer camp and they kept the pool cold with blocks of ice one of the councelors had delivered from the nearest convience store. The Reverend asked him a series of questions before baptising him. Each response was positive and it led to the coldest baptism in the history of mankind. Shivering and chattering his teeth, Duke thanked the Reverend and then had to make a mad dash to his hotel room to get packed and return home.
Chapter 5—Serving Others
Opon returning home, Duke had a dream. He could see himself managing a restaurant that offered all kinds of food to customers from all walks of life. Honestly, he could remember a time when he was young and he used to pretend that he was a 4-star chef and his customers were always pleased with their orders once they were presented with their food. Although it was only make-believe he was the happiest he had ever been. In a small way he knew God was speaking to him again. It was now that he was having an ephiphany. From his youth, he had simply been ignoring the voice of God and taking the pathway that he thought would bring him the most happiness. But no matter what he did, and no matter how rewarding, his job was leaving him with an empty hole. It was then he had decided he wanted to start designing the blueprints for his restaurant, "Livengood and Eating Well". The blueprints would be simple...but the building and the preparation would be enervating and arduous.
Thus far it had already been 8 months until Livengood and Eating Well and the restaurant was near completion and he had found a reliable and trustworthy staff. Before he knew it he was cutting the red tape at his own grand opening and people started flooding the doors. He even had his dog Scruffy endorsing the commercials he made. Scruffy became the restaurant's mascot and right before his eyes Livengood and Eating Well had become a recommendation to so many friends and rated as a 4-star eating establishment by the local food critics. This was exceptionally high praise because the food critics happened to be ludicriously picky when it came to food, but once they had stepped foot into Livengood, they were bowled over and couldn't stop talking about how delightful their experience had been. It was good press for the restaurant and before long the restaurant had become well known and a chain was born.
Still to this day, Mr. Livengood finds it unbelievable that he had heard the voice of God from a macaroni dinner. It's not altogether unfathomable. After all, Moses heard God's voice from a fiery bush, so other inanimate objects wouldn't be hard to speak from either. Yet, it is true. God does have a sense of humor and he knew that Duke would respond in no other way, than to go to the extreme. God was right, as usual.
Duke found it funny that he had required a Macaroni Special to be served every Tuesday night, but then it all began to make an odd sort of sense. He had heard the voice of the Almighty speaking to him on a Tuesday night to begin with, so what better way to remind himself that God was always there for him ? True, the Christian way had been difficult but it had been very rewarding for him. But, every night he would talk to God as he did during breakfast, lunch and dinner and sometimes during his walks with Scruffy. He still heard God but in different ways. He was just greatful that God cared about him among everything else in the universe. It put things in a whole new perspective for him.
As the years went by, Livengood restaurant continued to do sensationally well in the food business. The chain became more popular and more people were building Livengood restaurants in their neighborhood. They actually built on to their restaurants to include fitness programs and weight loss classes. It was only logical that the two went hand in hand together. He smiled when he thought of it. His father, the fitness and health guru, would've adored seeing that. He knew that in Heaven his dad could see everything from where he was and was pleased. Just thinking of that made Duke's heart swell. From now on, he would continue serving others and following the teachings of the Bible in whatever he did whatever journeys he would take in his lifetime.
July 31, 2006