We’d always wanted to go to a game, always planned on it. Why, it was on our bucket lists, but those plans were repeatedly hindered, inconvenience causing us to turn down free tickets a time or two. When someone offered us tickets to the game this time, however, we accepted, thus receiving the mandatory prerequisite for game attendance. In the same way, accepting Jesus’ free offering of salvation is a requirement for entering heaven. As it would have been pointless to head to the game without a ticket, so is it pointless to think we will gain entrance into heaven without salvation. It’s a gift freely given. How foolish to try to enter in without it. Doubtlessly, most people plan on going to heaven. It’s likely on the top of their bucket list. Therefore, how careless to dismiss the blessing of salvation just because of inopportuneness or perceived limitations. The ticket awaits, readily available.
Once our tickets were acquired, our schedule had to be rearranged, and our busy family with its heavy workload had to let go of some things we usually cram into our hectic schedules… Work! To enjoy the trip, we had to put aside tasks we normally feel pressured to perform. We had to make room for joy. It was hard to do, even though we definitely prefer fun to work. In order to experience the joy of the Lord, we need to lay aside our works, cast our cares on him, reschedule the demands of life, and delight in him. He is the R & R our soul requires, so the investment of time in pursuit of him is well worth our pitiful exchange of time and stress.
Getting ready for the game meant gearing up to identify with the team. T-shirts, jerseys, and team colors were considered. We wanted to be identifiable as a fan of the Saints. Our desire to identify with Christ should be no less ardent. Do we express ourselves as his saints in our manner of conduct and conversation?
Furthermore, looking the part created a spirit of camaraderie among the fans. Long, hot lines were made pleasurable as we clustered with others in black and gold, rehashing previous team wins and player stats and swapped favorite Saints’ stories. Identifying fellow believers creates a similar sense of fellowship and shared testimonies ease the discomforts of hardship and make our spiritual waiting periods times of joy.
Fans were everywhere around the Superdome, but specialized staff thronged the premises as well. They directed us from line to line, corrected those who stepped into a wrong zone, and offered friendly advice, like the spiritual leaders God anoints to shepherd, correct, and encourage us. Security detail was there as well. Stoic and attentive, they held K-9 dogs, watched the crowd, and made certain no interlopers were permitted entrance– And boy! Some would have liked to have gotten in! They waved cash. They shouted, “I just need one ticket. Can’t you spare one ticket for me?!” They bellowed, hollered, and yelled, but their desperation fell on unhearing ears. It was too late. Those who had tickets, gripped them with glad hearts, unwilling to part with them for any amount. In the same manner, angelic warriors watch over us, protecting us from the enemy’s conniving, thieving ways. At Christ’s request, they will also divide the wheat from the tares and prevent interlopers from gaining access to the golden streets. Those who have their ticket of salvation will rejoice in the choice they made beforehand as they are separated from those who failed to prepare to enter the pearly gates.
At the wrought iron gates, a detailed security check was given. Clear bags and phone-size cases were granted access, but no purses, totes, or luggage was permitted beyond the checkpoint. Metal detectors and an-over-the-body wand search were conducted. Only those without hidden paraphernalia were allowed inside. We, too, must lay aside weights and sins and make sure our hidden man of the heart meets the standards of the Bible if we are to arrive at Heaven’s gates unencumbered and ready to access the rewards that await. At the Superdome, it was field passes. In Heaven, the rewards are much greater, compensation for profitable deeds.
Collecting our field passes, we walked into the Superdome. Excitement that had hummed in the humid outdoors elevated to a whole new level. In fact, awe of the stadium’s grandeur, bright lights, and crisp air, so unlike the sweltering heat outside, completely obliterated what previously existed. We stepped onto the turf where the heroes walked and gazed upon those we’d only known by name and reputation. Helmetless and up close, these were men with facial features, smiles, and physical distinctions. In a much more magnificent way, the splendor of Heaven will erase the memories of time, and, as if seeing Jesus and enjoying the sights of Heaven weren’t enough, we will have the added pleasure of meeting saints of old who are no longer hidden behind veils of history and time.
As the crowd assembled, we moved to our seats and sank into comfortable chairs adorned with souvenir towels. The stadium filled, food and drink were in abundant supply, and the game began with great fanfare. Flags and music and blasts of fire, cheerleaders, laser lights, and heralding announcer voices celebrated the team players. But nothing was as loud as the deafening roar of the multitude who waved their towels and shouted with abandon—cheering that escalated when Drew Brees broke the NFL passing record and when the Saints scored touch downs to win the game over the Redskins. If this earthly game drew such ear-splitting applause, I cannot imagine the response to the pomp of the Marriage Supper! What celebration! What enthusiasm for the moment—a thrill that will be eclipsed by the joy of God’s presence as he, the winner over every adversary ascends to his throne in triumph.
Just as the Saints’ fans shared the victory of the well-played game, the saints of God will share the victories of Jesus Christ. The thrill will be eternal, void of paper bag seasons and scattered losses. Definitely worth telling the world about. God’s saints will go all the way, victory assured, forever part of his winning team.
Tip/Tidbit: Choose today to be on the winning team! Become a follower of Jesus Christ. Already on the team? Represent him well and enjoy the journey with his other saints.