I will always remember the first time I exploited my press credentials.
In 1997, I was a greenhorn sports editor at The Prince George’s Sentinel, a weekly, tabloid-sized newspaper in Seabrook, Maryland. It was a one-man, part-time gig where I was responsible for one, maybe two, pages of sports per week. On the ladder of sports journalism, this was the bottom rung.
Being a small weekly, the Sentinel’s bread-and-butter coverage was local community events like high school football and Saturday morning swim leagues. Yet when I saw the NBA’s Washington Bullets (now Wizards) were hosting the Chicago Bulls on Feb. 21, 1997, I quickly got credentials for the game. I couldn’t resist the chance to see history’s greatest basketball player in person.
Apparently, 18,756 fans had a similar idea that night. Like me, they had come to witness Michael Jordan.
At that point, Jordan, 34, was still near the height of his prolific powers, averaging about 30 points a game and closing in on the fifth of his six NBA championships. He was his typically dominant self that game, scoring a nonchalant 36 points in a 103-99 Bulls victory.
As soon as the game ended, I made a beeline to the visitor’s locker room. Rookie mistake. When I arrived, a three-deep throng of reporters was already camped out at the locker of His Airness even though he was still showering.
I decided to skip the mob scene and try to catch Jordan for a question or two alone after the media horde dispersed. Just think … an exclusive, one-on-one interview with MJ! Shortly afterward, I saw Jordan leaving his locker and quickly went into hot pursuit. My heart was racing as I trailed him. Will he allow me a couple questions? Will he shoo me away like a gnat?
As he passed through a doorway, suddenly a very large man with a very stern scowl appeared out of nowhere, blocking my path. He crossed his very large arms menacingly and, without saying a word, shook his head. Interview opportunity over. Access denied.
It’s hard to gain access to sports’ biggest superstars. Sometimes, not even a press pass and youthful gumption are enough.
Aren’t you glad it isn’t like that with God? The Lord God Almighty isn’t an aloof, far-off deity who is too important to be bothered. For believers, he is a loving Heavenly Father (Matthew 6:9) who desires close, personal fellowship with his creation. We see this throughout Scripture as he continually interacts with his people in many different ways.
But how is this possible? How can sinful rebels enter into God’s presence? How can we gain personal access to a holy God? Hebrews 4:14-16 provides the answer. Jesus, our “great high priest who has passed through the heavens,” has bridged the gap between heaven and earth by his sinless sacrifice.
Hebrews 4:16 gives the payoff: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” At any moment of any day, Christians can confidently approach God’s throne in prayerful praise and supplication. This is astounding! I couldn’t grab 30 seconds alone with Michael Jordan, but as a redeemed child of God, I possess unfettered access to the sovereign Creator of the universe. He is near (Philippians 4:5) and accessible. He wants to dwell with us forever, and one day, we will see him face to face (Revelation 22:4).
Let this truth saturate your soul. Then teach it to your children. Remind them that there’s a God in heaven who desires to save them, bless them and dwell inside them through his Spirit. Show them the way to this remarkable reality by telling them, once again, about the Savior.
By his finished work on the cross, Jesus provides us the credentials to gain access to God!
Joshua Cooley is a children’s ministry director in Maryland and an author of several books. His latest, the Heroes of the Bible Devotional, is a 90-day children’s devotional published by Tyndale House. His forthcoming book, One Year Devotions With Jesus, a 365-day devotional for pre-teens and teens, will be available through Tyndale on October 1. You can learn more about Joshua and his writing on his website, www.joshuacooleyauthor.com.