What comes to mind when you hear the word “privilege.” For some the word speaks to the special access enjoyed by those who are wealthy or who have powerful connections. Acceptance to Ivy League schools without much effort, front row seats at NBA finals, and membership in exclusive clubs are among the perks enjoyed by such individuals. I’ve never experienced anything like these examples, yet I do recall one time when I was treated very differently than others.
For several years I took so many international flights that I earned “Diamond Status” on one of the major airlines. I recall landing at an airport on a flight that had been delayed. There was only ten minutes before my next flight. I thought there was no way I would make it, and was mentally preparing to make the necessary adjustments. The moment we landed a well-dressed man appeared at the cabin door. He handed me a bottle of water, grabbed my bags, and requested that I follow him. Within seconds we were in an expensive Porsche winding our way through the tarmac area. He stopped, walked me up a ladder to the flight that had been held for me, and wished me a pleasant day. That was pretty awesome.
Privileges like these are rare. Very few ever get the chance to enjoy them. For example, now that I travel far less than I once did I sit in the cheap seats like most others. I’m also once again subject to missing flights like everyone else. It turns out that most privileges are fleeting. Like smoke they quickly vanish into thin air. Lose your airlines status, fall from grace through a political scandal, or trust your fortune to the wrong financial advisor and you’re out of favor. Suddenly you’re back to being a normal human being.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a creature of habit. Most evenings when I get into bed and prepare to sleep, I spend some time thinking about the day that just ended, and what may come tomorrow. I generally then spend some time praying. I ask forgiveness through Christ, thank the Lord for his many blessings, and request that he guard, protect, and provide for those I love. I then picture myself and those I love resting in God’s presence and enjoying his protection as we rest. As I do so, two verses often come to mind:
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust” (Psalm 91:1-2 NIV).
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV).
With the truth and promises of these and other verses in mind, I picture myself and those I most dearly love resting in the presence of God Almighty and the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing in all of creation can touch us unless the Lord allows it. If he does so, I know that it’s his will, is for our good, and therefore I am willing to endure it. I cannot with words describe the sense of peace and joy that comes at that moment. Even when going through times that have included excruciating challenges and stress, I can rest in peace in God’s presence.
A few nights ago as I was entering this process, it dawned on me that what I experience during these times represents the greatest privilege that any human being can ever know. The peace, and the sense of love, acceptance, and security, are more profound than I can express in words. I genuinely don’t think that anything else on this earth is worth more. There’s nothing that the wealthy or connected can do to obtain this without faith in Christ. It cannot be purchased, it cannot be earned, and it cannot be deserved. It’s only through the grace of God in Christ that it is available.
The wonderful part is that this rest, peace, protection, and acceptance is available to anyone. It doesn’t matter in the least how much money you have, your status with the wealthy and powerful, or your worldly connections. The poorest orphan on the street of India, the prisoner tortured for his faith in Christ, and the middle-class teacher in the United States whose heart is breaking over the choices her son is making all have access to the Lord’s presence, protection, and rest. Each is welcome and accepted through Christ.
The very best part of this is that despite how wonderful this is now, it will only get better. 1 Corinthians 13:12 notes that, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” Those who trust in Christ for salvation can experience peace and rest that pass understanding now, and yet as profound as this privilege is on earth, it cannot compare to what we will know in heaven. Moreover, whereas what we can know now is temporary, heaven has no end. Those who trust Christ will live in God’s presence for eternity.
Nothing in all the earth, no advantage offered to us by humans, no amount of power, fame or fortune can possibly compare to life in God’s presence. As I consider all this, I can only conclude that there can be no greater privilege than to know and trust Jesus.