Written By James Abana, Nigeria
What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
The Oxford dictionary defines “privilege” as “a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.” That we can bring everything to God in prayer is a privilege indeed, one that should not be taken for granted.
I had a taste of what being privileged meant when I was a student at college. It started when I decided to showcase my skills by presenting the vice chancellor with one of my paintings. When I shared the plan with my friends, they told me it would be very difficult for me to meet the vice chancellor face-to-face. One of them said, “The secretary won’t let you in. She’ll collect the gift and present it to the vice chancellor or even toss it in the trash can.” Another person said, “The vice chancellor is such a busy man. He may ignore you. After all, you’re just a student.” Some others said, “Just try your luck. You may have the privilege of meeting him.”
Despite the lukewarm support, I decided to head to the administrative block. At the entrance to the vice chancellor’s office, I was stopped and interrogated by a uniformed security guard. He eyed me suspiciously before letting me in.
Opening the door, I saw a man of average height, with stocky shoulders, cropped hair, and bloodshot eyes. It was clear that no one could pass him easily. I stated my business and handed him the wrapped painting I had brought. He scrutinized it before returning it to me, and bellowing, “Move on!”
I entered the outer office. Before I could utter a word, a woman seated at a glass table asked, “May I help you?” “Yes ma’am, I’m here to see the vice chancellor.” “What do you want to see him for?” she asked, eyes still glued to her computer screen. “I came to present him with a gift.”
I handed her the beautifully wrapped frame. A minute or so later, she finally finished what she was doing, took what I was holding out, and looked me in the eye. She frowned, “I hope it’s not a letter bomb.” I couldn’t help but laugh. “Of course not,” I said.
“Ok, hang on.” There was another lengthy pause before she opened a drawer to retrieve a slip and a form for me to fill out. She then directed me towards another door. Opening it, I saw several people seated in a fully air-conditioned waiting room, surrounded by newspapers and magazines.
I sank into one of the executive sofas, picked up a magazine like the rest and started flipping through it. Over the next two hours, the secretary came to call us in one by one. Finally, it was my turn. I got up, collected the frame, and followed her as she opened the heavy security door to the inner office.
As l stepped into the magnificent room, l was in awe. I felt as if l was floating on air. The vice chancellor offered me a seat as he extended his hand to me. “What can l do for you, young man?” he asked. “Sir, I have something for you,” l replied, and handed him the gift. As he opened it, I took in the details of the room. My attention was drawn to a 14-inch color television set sitting on top of his cabinet. Its screen showed what was going on in the waiting room. The fact that he could see everything going on outside was a little unnerving.
My thoughts were interrupted by his sudden exclamation. “Wow!” he said, as he gazed at the artwork in his hand. “What a marvelous piece of work. Where did you get this piece from?” he asked. “Sir, it’s one of my paintings,” l replied. His eyes widened in surprise. “What are you studying?” When he heard my answer, he immediately said, “Oh no, you are in the wrong place.”
He went on to ask me a lot more questions about myself and finally said that he would support my skills. “James, you’ve impressed me immensely. Thank you very much.” “Thank you sir,” l said in return. As l stood up to leave, he gave me another warm handshake and thanked me again.
As I walked out of his office, I congratulated myself in amazement. All the interrogation and hours of waiting to see this man had been worth it. Back at the hostel, all my friends bombarded me with questions. “Did you manage to see him?” “Yes, and I shook his hand twice!” I triumphantly declared.
There is something special about standing in the presence of a famous personality. But while opportunities to meet with such people are few, we all have the chance to stand before and talk to someone greater than the greatest king, president, or celebrity. The psalmist knew exactly how great this experience was when he wrote in Psalm 16:11, “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” I wish that every person will enjoy a taste of this experience.
And the best part is—unlike my encounter with the vice chancellor—you don’t need to “buy” your way in to see Him with a gift. The Scripture assures us: “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
And while human leaders will forget us eventually (just like my vice chancellor did), God will never abandon us. As the Bible records, those who come face-to-face with the Lord will be transformed. In God’s presence, the impossible becomes possible and many mighty things happen.
So let’s make good use of this rare privilege that God has given us. Consider the example of Jabez, who cried out to God, ‘“Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request” (1 Chronicles 4:10). If God granted Jabez such a request, wouldn’t he do the same for us? So let’s seek God and His kingdom, and all these things shall be added unto us (Matthew 6:33).