The story is told of a man in England whose lifetime ambition was to take a trip to the United States of America. One day, a friend of his surprised him with the gift of an envelope. In opening it, the man discovered a ticket for a boat trip from the English port of Southampton (where he lived) to New York City. Overjoyed, and overwhelmed by the generosity of his friend, the man realised his dream was soon to come true.
On boarding the ship, the man's joy could be seen by all. Yet one thing differentiated him from the others on board. During meal times, the rest of the passengers went into the dinner lounge to enjoy sumptuous gourmet meals. Instead, this man went back to his cabin and opened the little bag he carried with him on board containing crackers and cheese, and day by day, he consumed the contents, alone.
Undetered, the man, if it was possible, was only growing in excitement. He knew that in a short time, he would see America for the first time. In fact, he understood that there would be relatives waiting to meet him at New York harbor. The long sea crossing from England seemed a short one to him, because of the wonders he knew were awaiting him at the journey's end.
The day finally came when the ship reached New York. The man could hardly contain himself. Here he was, fulfilling his dream.
When it came time to disembark, the Captain of the ship made it his duty to shake hands personally with each of the passengers. One by one, the people came and expressed their thanks to the captain for the good job he had done in bringing them safely to the harbor.
But when the man in our story came, the Captain looked at him and said, "I'm sorry, I don't remember seeing you before. I don't recall seeing you in the dinner lounge. Was something wrong? Was the service satisfactory?"
The man responded, "Well Captain, there's no need to be concerned. I did see the dinner lounge and the wonderful food laid out. But sir, I am a poor man, and am only here because someone gave me a ticket. There was no way I could afford those luxurious meals, and I knew it. So what I did was pack some crackers and cheese with me in my suitcase, and each day, I went back to my cabin at meal times, and enjoyed the food I brought... and Captain, this is the best day of my life! Hey, I think I can even recognize some folk that are waiting for me on the harbor. Thank you so much Captain. I am extremely grateful for all you have done."
The Captain looked very perturbed, and said, "Sir, its been our pleasure to have you on board, yet I am deeply saddened to hear your story. You tell me you didn't come in for the meals because you could not afford them. Sir, I am so sorry. Did you not read the ticket? If you had read the back of your ticket, you would have known that all your meals were included."
This story illustrates how many Christians live far below their privileges in Christ. There are many things that wait for us in heaven - things that will make all of life's trials worth it all. The sufferings of this present life are not worthy to be compared to the joy that awaits us there in heaven. But Christianity is more than simply pie in the sky when we die. It is also steak on the plate while we wait!
We as Christians, saved by grace alone, through faith alone because of Christ alone, need to stop and read our tickets (so to speak). We have already been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 1:3).
We may not have been born equal. Some have more privileges in life than others. However, we were all born again equal. Every Christian has received the exact same inheritance in Christ. Each of us are declared justified by faith (Romans 5:1); have received the complete righteousness of God as a gift (Rom. 5:17; 2 Cor. 5:21); are more than conquerors through Christ (Romans 8:37); and we stand complete in Him (Col. 3:10). Each of us have access by faith into this grace in which we stand (Romans 5:2); and this amazing privilege allows us to gain deep intimacy with the Lord Himself.
Are we taking advantage of this wonderful inheritance?
Are we seeing answered prayer (Mark 11:24)?
Are we praying with expectancy (John 14:13, 14)?
Are we accessing His peace, even in the midst of life's storms (Phil. 4:6, 7), and casting all our care on to the Lord (1 Peter 5:7)?
The man who lived on crackers and cheese did not lose His inheritance because of his lack of knowledge of what a gift of grace had provided; but he did live far below his privileges. Let not that be true of us. Let us enjoy all that Christ has provided for us, His children here, by His amazing grace that comes through the cross of Christ. The joys of intimacy with Christ are ours now, and yet will be fully realised when we see Him face to face. Amen. Come Lord Jesus!
"And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified." - Acts 20:32