“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” Luke 1:30
We throw ‘favor’ around the way many refer to as a run of good luck.
“So much good is going on in my life right now. I’m really walking in favor…”
But there’s a side of favor I’ll bet you haven’t considered.
I once heard about a young teen-aged girl, no more than thirteen, maybe fourteen at most, who had a chance-of-a-lifetime encounter with a very powerful and famous individual. Her name was Miriam, but most knew her as Mary. The night visitor told her he was sent on a mission by God Himself and came to her because His Master found her favorable and wanted to bless her.
Actually, He wanted to rock her world.
That was the curious word he used. He said the Almighty “favored” her. So…how does one reconcile the two: you are so favored, I’m going to scandalize your life?
Unmarried but preggers. Then you can’t tell people the baby inside you is the Son of God. And even if you could, you’d have your ticket punched for a one-way trip to an asylum. Or exiled. Or stoned.
This is favor?
I mean, Noah, too, was favored and God said I’m going to save your life, but first you have to spend the next hundred years building a boat in the desert. Joseph was favored as well, but his price of admission was to be sold off as a slave, go through the mother of all set-ups, then be forgotten – not once, but two times – in an Egyptian hell hole where he would spend nearly half his life.
You call this “favor”?
If young Mary’s life teaches anything, it schools us with the truth that favor is often accompanied by challenge. It requires a submissive response, a costly sacrifice, an abiding amen. Stuff you don’t learn on a chalkboard.
And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
Favor removes you from your present condition and sets you on an epic journey. It takes you higher, but there is always either persecution or great trial – or both – linked to it.
Sort of like: You’ve been chosen…this is your glorious (and perilous!) mission should you choose to accept it…
Well sign me up!
All things must change to something new, to something strange.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Favor also signals a transition. Note Mary’s “from now on” in her Magnificat:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.”
The little girl’s world has just been rocked like a cradle and she responds by bursting into song! She’s grown-up enough to know that when she wakes up in the morning the Son will be in a new place: her belly. You can’t make this stuff up.
Yes, “favor” is code for challenge. It’s calling card is upheaval. And it is spelled c-o-s-t-l-y. But take it from a girl who grew up overnight: Favor always leads us into a new measure of glory.
You’ve heard about the three-legged dog with one blind eye and a bad case of mange, answers to Lucky?
I was reflecting on my own pitiful self recently: teeth discolored from ingesting years and gallons of antibiotics, eyes blurred from other meds and hair falling out from still other super-drugs. Back hurts all the time, scars like ropes around my body, can’t walk. Ah, poor creature!
Even still, I know who I am: I am highly favored. I am His. I am chosen. I am blessed. I am eternal, going from glory to glory.
Not lucky, not by a long shot.
And that suits me just fine.
FOR DISCUSSION: does the above post make you want to think twice before asking for God’s favor in your life?