Friday, January 11, 2008

Pondering Grace...

My teen daughter has a funny quote on her MySpace page that says, "I know God loves you, but He likes me best." When she showed that to me it made me chuckle. And while I know God doesn't love any of us "best," it also made me think ... because while I know God loves me, it's easy to forget that He likes me too. Being so human, and sometimes feeling so lacking in all I want to do or be, it slips from my mind that God--the creator of the universe--looks down upon me with a smile.

Every day I get a Daily Bible Verse from Zondervan. (To sign up to here:
https://www.zondervan.com/Cultures/en-US/Registration/EMAS.htm?QueryStringSite=Zondervan )

I don't know how they do it, but those people who pick the verses always seem to find the exact one I need.

This morning's verse was this:

"God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’” Luke 1:26-28

The words of the angel caused me to pause, and the quote on my daughter's page came to mind. It's almost as if I could hear the Lord whisper to me, "You are highly favored, too. The Lord is with you."

Looking back, it's easy to consider Mary highly favored. She was chosen to carry, birth, and raise the son of God. But from recently watching The Nativity Story, the image of the young and completely ordinary teen girl is fresh in my mind. Today, we consider Mary highly favored for what she did, but according to the Word of God she was highly favored before she even took one step in her God-designed mission.

Still pondering all of this, I looked up this verse in my Amplified Bible which includes the meaning of the words in the verse. This is how it reads, "And he came over to her and said, Hail, O favored one [endued with grace]! The Lord is with you! Blessed (favored of God) are you before all other women!" Luke 1:28

Favored one, it seems, means "endued with grace." Again, at the time of the angel's visit, Mary was favored and she hadn't "performed" yet. Her favored status had everything to do with God and God alone. In fact, listen to this:

"But when she saw him, she was greatly troubled and disturbed and confused at what he said and kept revolving in her mind what such a greeting might mean. And the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found grace (free, spontaneous, absolute favor and loving-kindness) with God." Luke 1:29-30 (Amplified)

So how can we soak this in?

Hearing: I am favored.

Knowing: God is with me.

Understanding: Being favored doesn't have anything to do with me.

Grasping: Favored means "endued with Grace"

Believing: The grace given to me is the free, spontaneous, absolute favor and loving-kindness of God.

Living: As one who is loved and liked. As special ... not for anything I’ve done, but for everything He's done.

Walking: With thankfulness and trust.

Today, my goal is to ponder again this idea of grace. I want to let this word, and everything it means, to revolve around my mind just as the angel's words revolved around Mary's. It's a gift given. Free to me, but given with great cost. Spontaneous, which means I don't have to do anything to get it, just understand that it's given. Absolute favor. Absolute? Wow, that's a hard one to grasp, yet it's absolute not because of what I've done, but what God's done. Absolute favor even when I feel so human, so ordinary. Absolute favor AND loving-kindness. What an amazing gift, one worth unwrapping.

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