The Benefits Package

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103:1-5

I used to enjoy premium travel benefits. I was on an airplane at least every other week, and because American Airlines is based in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex—where I live—it was usually one of their flights. I was a Platinum frequent flyer in those days. Not Executive Platinum, mind you, but even so it was a pretty sweet deal.  I belonged to the Admiral’s Club too, because all that travel comes with hours and hours spent sitting around in airports.

The Admiral’s Club came in handy when I vacationed with friends, and we never minded cooling our heels for an hour or two there. The Club locations are much more pleasant than the general terminals. Airport terminals are brightly lit and often crowded. The chairs are hard and uncomfortable, and there never seem to be enough of them. Terminals are noisy too, with all that talking and shuffling feet and luggage being dragged around, not to mention the incessant broadcasts of flight boardings and other announcements. If you want something to eat, it costs you two or three times what any other market would bear.

But Admiral’s Clubs are softly lighted. The chairs are big and cushy and grouped in small clusters. There always seem to be enough of them to have a little privacy if you want it. Admiral’s Clubs are quiet, and wifi is included in your membership. So are snacks—appropriate for the time of day—and coffee and tea. If you want something more substantial, there’s a wait staff to take your order and bring it to you.

Another benefit of membership in the Admiral’s Club is they’ll call for a cart to take you to your gate. That beats walking, especially at a busy airport with big terminals, where the distance between gates can be quite a hike. The cart is management’s idea. They came up with it and advertise it as a benefit of Club membership. No one asked them to do that, and you don’t have to go to the counter and beg the associate to send one. All you have to do is ask. Theoretically, you only have to ask once.


I was traveling with friends a few years ago, and we had a layover between flights. We spent it at an Admiral’s Club that happened to be at the opposite end of the terminal from our departure gate. We could’ve hung around the gate for a couple of hours, but why would we when the Club said they’d transport us from their comfortable digs to the gate in plenty of time to catch our flight? On this particular trip, the benefit was especially handy because one of our party was recovering from a leg injury and couldn’t walk long distances, at least not quickly.

We hung out in the pleasant environment of the Club until a few minutes before boarding began, at which time I went to the front counter and asked the associate to send a cart. “Certainly, Ms. Simonds,” she said without a qualm, and she picked up the phone and made a call. The Club was on the upper level, and she told us to take the elevator down to the main terminal and the cart would pick us up there. So we rode downstairs to wait for it.

We waited.

And waited.

Ten minutes or so passed, and I went back upstairs to the counter. To the pleasant quiet of the Club. To its soothing calm and the explicit assurance that all is as it should be. The associate recognized me immediately. “You’re still here?” she said. “Let me call them again.”

I headed back downstairs to wait, thinking surely the cart would be there any time. At least, that’s what I told myself over and over again because I had a persistent, nagging suspicion that the cart was not on the way. A knowing in the back of my mind that we would stand there like fools until we missed our flight. I had another very strong sense too, that I was in the middle of acting out a strange metaphor. Time was critical by this point; it was too late for us to walk to the gate.

Back upstairs I went, desperately this time. In my mind, so strongly, was the image that ascending to the Club to petition for our cart was like ascending to the spirit realm in prayer to petition Heaven. Entering the secluded Club was like entering a holy place, where the presence of God dwells. Here there was peace and wholeness. Every need was met and every answer was Yes and Amen. Unlike the bustling terminal, where everyone was getting themselves from here to there the best they could, completely on their own. Unlike the terminal to which I would soon descend again to wait in its noise and confusion, hoping against hope under a ceiling as solid as brass.

“We need that cart. Now,” I told the associate without preamble. “Or we’re going to miss our flight.” She immediately picked up the phone, and I waited while she sorted it out. I stayed put, right there, until I knew she had sorted it out. “They went to the wrong Admiral’s Club,” she said as she hung up the phone. “There’s another Club in a different terminal, but they’re on their way here now.” I thanked her and went downstairs again to join my friends. A few minutes later, an apologetic driver pulled up and took us to our gate in the nick of time to make our flight.

This happened a long time ago, but my mind returns to it now and again, and this is my takeaway: Persistence pays a higher return rate than passivity. Period.

I think we sometimes wait for things that aren’t coming—even though they’ve been promised—because things have gotten snarled up. Sometimes there is a fight in the spiritual realm to get an answer into our world, as there was with the angel who appeared to Daniel. Author Frank Peretti wrote a trilogy of novels based on this premise, beginning with This Present Darkness.

Sometimes there are obstacles between us and our answer, as there were for the woman who pressed through the callous crowd and the callous disciples to touch the hem of Jesus’ robe. This unnamed woman was determined to get her hands on his clothes, believing she’d be healed if she did so. And she was. I want to meet that lady when I go where she is, and hear her tell the story in her words.

There will be times when the answer doesn’t come, or doesn’t come in time. That’s confusing, but when it happens, it shouldn’t be dismissed with platitudes about God moving in mysterious ways. His ways are mysterious, but he is not capricious. Neither does he change from day to day or eon to eon. All of his promises are Yes and Amen in Jesus, to demonstrate his glory through us.

Let’s get out there and bring something glorious into our world.

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