Recently, I saw a hilarious announcement: the owner of a company had a big plan! He was dressing up as Willy Wonka (complete with purple top hat and floppy golden bow tie) and had a handful of “Golden Tickets” which gave the recipient free goods and bonus just-released items. He was going to put the tickets randomly in various orders that were made that day. It was such a creative way to encourage business!
Although you probably already know about Willy Wonka, the reference is from a children’s book by Roald Dahl, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. It is a fantastical, imaginative tale about a young boy from a very poor family who finds a golden ticket in a chocolate bar. The ticket grants the bearer a special tour of an amazing and mysterious candy factory run and owned by the eccentric millionaire Willy Wonka. There are only five tickets hidden in specific chocolate bar wrappers, and are greatly coveted and sought after by thousands of young hopefuls.
The five children who win the Golden Tickets and arrive for the tour later discover that they are the five candidates for Willy Wonka’s replacement – he wants to retire and the tour is in actuality a sort of interview to determine who the next owner of the factory will be. Only one can emerge the new heir, and the series of events in the chocolate factory tour show that it will need to be a very uniquely qualified person indeed.
Who doesn’t love the idea of winning a “Golden Ticket”?
Especially if it was unexpected and entirely unmerited through your own effort or talent!
Going from a gritty and gray daily grind to suddenly having an entirely new opportunity that includes joy, creativity, pleasure, authority, and wealth – what an incredible prospect!
So guess what?
To anyone who is a follower of Christ, you are the winner of a Golden Ticket!
Granted sudden and immediate access to God through Jesus’ sacrifice, you’re invited into the Kingdom. And not only as a tourist or a day-visitor: You have been invited to become part of God’s Kingdom operations – given the work of growing and furthering it (Daniel 7:18).
And it wasn’t random chance that you received this ticket. Nope! You were hand-selected by God, chosen and called (Ephesians 1:4), because He sees you, knows you, and loves you. And He wanted you to be the one specifically in charge of the work He prepared for you before time began (Ephesians 2:10).
This Kingdom work is so multi-faceted and so greatly varied that there is plenty of space for everyone who is called to have their own particular area of operations. For me right now, this means taking a good hard look at the roles I have currently been given (mama and wife, homemaker, teacher/mentor, friend…) then, with passion, focus, and humility, getting up each day to fill those roles with all the strength and ability He helps me to have.
What roles and what work have been assigned to you in this time? Whatever it is, be encouraged to do it with all your strength (Ecclesiastes 9:10), knowing that you’ll be giving a project report on it at some point (Hebrews 4:13).
There is a brighter time coming, when we will reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12, Romans 8:17). For right now, it’s like the part where we are faithfully learning and training as apprentices or interns. So we must not lose heart, even when it seems like the gray and the grit of our current circumstances are more real than the fact of a gleaming Golden Ticket in our hand.
Each person who won a Golden Ticket didn’t automatically receive the right to ownership of the Chocolate Factory – they had to act on the promise it gave, and show up on the appointed day to be allowed inside!
We can hold onto the same hope – knowing that the gate will swing open for us and we will be welcomed in, for we have been given a hope that is certain:
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. (Hebrews 10:23, NLT)
Can’t wait to be heirs of the “Chocolate Factory” with you, my friend!
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