We give space to those we love. Leaving my house is not easy. A ritual began about a year ago transforming simple good-byes into a five minute “lovefest”. It started simple enough. My wife and I make a point of kissing good bye every time I walk out the door. What can I say, I guess we really love showing we love each other. Watching this ritual, my daughter decided she wanted some loving. No matter what she is doing, she must stop and get her hug and kiss bye-bye. Now my son needs the same. If I happen to leave before my children wake or get their love, they burst into tears because I’m gone. I’ve been chased down in my driveway by half-naked, barely awake kids…all because they want a hug and kiss bye-bye. Anymore, I don’t bother walking out the door until everyone has their hug and kiss. Its made me late for a few meetings…but I love every minute of it!
I can’t tell you how much it means to me to know my wife and kids love me and crave my love. They need my approval, my acceptance…they need to know and hear dad loves them. Honestly, I need the same from them. The Bible has a word for this need, “Favor.” My children desire to know their father favors them. My wife and I remind each other daily that we favor each other. Every person who has ever walked this planet deeply desires to know, feel, and experience God’s favor. As children, we crave our Heavenly Father’s favor.
The Good News is God does favor us. Through Jesus Christ, every ounce of God’s favor is available. God holds nothing back. All God’s love, all God’s approval is given extravagantly in and through Jesus Christ. The angels declared this truth to lowly shepherds at Jesus’ birth, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those on whom God’s favor rests.” Through Jesus Christ we can expect God’s favor!
The question for us is not “Will God favor us?” but “How do I receive God’s favor?” Mary, the mother of Jesus, provides us a great example of living into all God’s favor. Luke 1:26-38 records her encounter with the angel announcing that she will give birth to God’s Son. Click here to read the text: Luke 1:26-38. Twice the angel calls Mary “favored.” How does Mary respond to God’s favor allowing it to become real and full in her life?
- Humility before God – Mary knows who she is. A lowly young servant girl, she has no claim of deserving God’s favor. In fact, she is humbly perplexed by this message. Why would God favor her? Humility makes no claim to rights. Humility compares oneself to God and says, “I can’t and I won’t” pretend I can do or be what only God can do or be.
- Belief in God – Mary also knows a little bit about who God is. Mary doesn’t know how God’s gonna do what God promised to do…but she knows “God can and will.” Belief doesn’t require details, it simply trusts that God will do what only God can do.
- Space for God – Mary choses to let God make it happen. Mary’s first response to the angel might sound like doubt, “How can this happen? I’m a virgin.” We know its not doubt however, because when Zechariah doubted the angel, the response was different. Instead, the angel responds to Mary by sharing how God was gonna work. Mary’s statement instead is one of creating space. Mary knows the birds and bees. She knows how to conceive a child. Yet as an unmarried young woman, she would need to disobey God’s commands in order to conceive. Her statement basically states, “Okay God, I’m going to continue to obey you. You’re gonna have to make this happen.”
Space gives room in our lives for only God to act. Creating space means determining to stay obedient and faithful, and allowing God to deal with the consequences. We don’t like to make space. We tell little lies to make ourselves sound better to others. We go into debt to have things that make us feel good or look important. We fill all the gaps with our own effort leaving little room for God to move. God won’t force us to let God work in our lives. Space is risky…space requires faith that God can do what only God can do.
God desires to fill us with His favor. The question remains, “Do we have space for it?” God fills the space we offer. My children stop what their doing to receive my favor…they create space for only me. And I wait to leave, creating space for them. What space do you create for only God to act? God’s favor is fully and completely available to us, ALL OF IT! May we be like Mary. May we chose to stay faithful to God, believing God will fill our every space with favor!