Our friend’s baby died. My friend’s mom was cured of cancer and it came back. My mentor’s body has been diagnosed full of cancer. Your classmates were killed in a car crash and on the lake. Our friend was hit by a car and paralyzed.
These stories could represent a really Godless existence where any of us could/should look around in panic and wait for the other shoe to drop on us. We could live in a dismal state of depression and hopelessness and negativity.
Unless. Unless we heard the rest of these stories of how people were changed, healed, comforted. How they experienced God in the middle of these tragedies. How onlookers were impacted by witnessing ordinary people walking with God in terrible times. (I think of Missy, the little girl in The Shack, explaining how Jesus and the Spirit were so very close to her in the most horrible of circumstance.)
God’s goodness is a key factor to whole-hearted living. Without it, we life half-hearted lives scrambling and scraping to lessen our fears. And there is something weighty about this “favor of God” thing. He has been talking to me about favor for 13 years now. It began the day I found out I was pregnant with baby number 3.
I had one healthy baby, miscarried one unhealthy baby and was now pregnant again. I was terrified. Of all the things He could have said, He declared favor. He asked me to believe that I would see His goodness, no matter the outcome. Talk about stretching my faith…Then during my sabbatical, His favor became a foundational lesson to be fully embraced.
Favor isn’t based on circumstances. Favor is based on the heart of God and my willingness to receive it.
The C. S. Lewis quote comes to mind:
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
The favor of God is not a magic wand. Or a lottery ticket. It’s our inheritance.
And now we approach college, our newest scary season, with confidence in God’s goodness. Not because you are smart, which you are. Or your dad works hard, which he does. But because God is going to reveal his favor to us through this Abrahamic journey. When we were at orientation it became very clear.
One of the speakers quoted Deuteronomy 8:17-18:
You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.”
But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
God gave your dad this verse 25 years ago. Then, it was a message about humility and to remember the Lord in in his work. But in recent years, the verse has been a demonstration of God’s desire to show favor and so “confirm His covenant.” As believers, we are part of an eternal pact.
I was having this conversation with God while the speaker was talking.
“God thank you for this verse. Chuck and I had just been talking about how on earth would we pay for this school and you remind him of this promise from 25 years ago.”
But then God gave me a vision. It was a desert and I saw Him pluck Chuck out of his family of origin and set him far away from them. He started “pouring favor” on Chuck and everything became green and lush
Then the Spirit said, “I am going to pour out so much favor on you and Chuck that his family of origin will be like the Old Testament nations who were jealous of the children of Israel because ‘Surely God is in their midst.’ It won’t just be for you and Chuck but also on your children. But not just your children but in your wake. Those who are in your spiritual wake. And so I will confirm my covenant to you.”
Why do I tell you this? Because I have come to trust, depend, expect, and be humbled by the favor of God. His goodness and faithfulness in absolutely every season. Feast or famine, He shines through. This is a promise to every believer.
It is a different compass when I face uncertainty or hardship. Even in my surgery scare, I strengthened myself with the promise that His heart was full of favor toward me. Not for anything I have done or not done, but because of who He is and what He has promised.
This is your inheritance. God’s heart is toward you. You don’t have to bargain or perform or fear losing it. Just thank Him and receive it. Look for it. Expect it. Not like a demand from a bully, but as a lover responds when His name is whispered. Whisper for Him in every circumstance.
As surely as rising of the dawn, He will respond…
(This is the sixth article from a series of letters written to my daughter as she left for college. These “pearls of wisdom” are aptly named since pearls are something very beautiful created out of great anguish and agitation. )