We were all set to go: sunscreen, hats and sunglasses, water bottles filled with ice. We even packed these nifty cooling towels that you snap in someone’s face and *presto* – they turn cold and save your bacon on a sweltering day. And it was a sweltering day at Foxboro, believe me. What else does a family with four boys do on a fry-pan day but go watch the Patriots practice?
So there we sat on the bleachers, baking our buns, fighting off bees, swimming in a sea of sweaty people all squinting to find famous sweaty people. The kids were rocking some new gear, thanks to a Patriot initiative to make training camp less hateful. But you can’t fool the sun. And you can’t fool your sweat glands. They were having a really runny party.
Jon noticed our 6 year-old growing restless. The two of them dodged the bees and went for a walk. Two minutes later, my phone buzzed: Bring the boys. You have to see this.
I thought he’d have some smug secret. But even my amazing husband, who always has a top-notch surprise up his sleeve, didn’t know what was coming. He stood next to a Patriot employee, who held six Purple Paper Bracelets (say that 5 times fast).
The six of us stuck out our sweaty wrists, received bracelets, and followed the man past a sign that read: RESTRICTED ACCESS ONLY. Where were we going? Why us?!
The man stopped at a massive gray cooler and offered us our choice of any ice-cold beverage the heart could want. The heart wanted ANYTHING cold. He led us to a grassy bank right next to the practice field. This was a V.I.P. area. Mere feet away, a former Patriot player was intently scouting from behind his shades and taking super-secret notes. And then we were informed that the Players Themselves would be signing autographs in a super-shady area reserved for super-special people like us, right after practice!
Except we aren’t super-special people. We’re as average, cranky, booger-picking, and sweaty as the next family. Just as flawed. Just as undeserving.
One thin strip of purple escorted us past all the other families and thrust us into privilege. Purple paper could be anything. A bandaid. A tiny paper airplane. A Keep-Out sign. The power came from the source: The Patriot’s Organization. We had the RIGHT because they said so.
This is God’s world. There are no super-special people. It doesn’t matter how fast you run, how far you throw a ball, how much money you make, or who knows your name. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23)
We are equals in God’s eyes, no matter who we are. We deserve nothing but eternal separation from God, tortured by our own rejection of His forgiveness. Yet we have the RIGHT to glories beyond imagining because He said so.
Here stands Jesus, holding an endless supply of V.I.P. passes to friendship with God. Instant access to the throne. Eternal life with Him! “…he has brought you back as his friends. He has done this through his death on the cross in his own human body. As a result, he has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.” (Colossians 1:22)
It would have been cooler if the paper bands were red, for His blood. Then again, purple stands for royalty. Is there any greater privilege than being qualified to be God’s sons and daughters? “…all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24)
Every time DeVante Parker comes on the field, I get to torture my family by yelling, “He signed my hat!” Every time I’m down, I get to have coffee with Jesus. Every time I’m confused, I get to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance that is sure to come. Every time I’m crushed by my own mistakes, I get to claim the blood of Jesus and raise the purple band of power. I belong to the King. And there is no restricted access for those who come through the King’s Son.
Has this ever happened to you? Have you been showered with free gifts you knew you didn’t deserve? It was the most amazing feeling. Just a cold drink and some autographs. But we weren’t looking for it.
So many people are not looking for God. But He still interrupts everyday life with invitations to upgrade to V.I.P. status. If we’re already in His family, let’s be the Patriot employee who grabs a weary traveler and says, “Hey, come with me! You have to see this.”