The last trip I had to the USA ended kind of strangely. It was many years ago now before my daughter was born. We’d had this epic 4-week holiday, visiting New York, San Francisco, and were finally ending the trip in LA. In the middle of the night on our last night, my husband got a call from the airline we were flying with. Apparently, there were some issues with the next days’ flight and they wanted to see if we would consider stopping in Fiji for several days or even leaving LA later. My husband was hardly coherent when he received the call, but he was aware of our tight schedule and declined. The next day we arrived at the International airport a little concerned that we might get offloaded. But instead, the clerk at the desk informed us that we had been upgraded to Business Class! Additionally, the Business Class ticket gave us access to the Admirals Club at LA airport. Like a couple of rookies, we embraced every FREE thing coming our way in the club and on the flight! Food, hot towels, pyjamas, newspapers, juice…All whilst trying to pretend to onlookers that we did this e-ver-y-day…
So the word God has given me for 2019 is FAVOUR. Still not sure what that actually looks like, although I’ve seen a few glimpses. In my own zeal to understand, I’ve come up with some ideas of what it means. The whole situation has revealed to me, one thing: my own perception of favour. Based on my ‘fantasies’ I can only assume that I think favour is: preferred circumstances. Interpretation of that? Yeah, I’ll bite…I’m thinking another massive holiday! It’s been 8 years since I was last in the USA, and I am so keen to go again. I have family there and I want my daughter to meet them – and you know…Disneyland, New York Pizza, Broadway, Grand Canyon. I got to admit, that was my first thought when the word ‘favour’ arose…what good things I was going to get this year. Like my last trip, I’m thinking God’s favour means that I will be given preferential treatment to enter spaces of blessing that I don’t ordinarily get.
Unfortunately for me, I read the story of Mary recently. The Bible tells us that the angel calls Mary highly favoured (Luke 1:28). Nice. Sounds pretty harmless so far. But it goes on to tell a scandalous story of a young faithful girl pregnant out of wedlock and consequently close to being left by her future husband. All on account of the favour she had with God?? NOOOOOOOOOOOO! I don’t want that sort of favour, God! So in a panic, I decided to dig a little deeper on the whole favour thing – to assure myself that I wasn’t in for a tough year.
Apparently, one of the definitions of highly favoured as it stated in this passage, means “to endue with special honour”. Honour isn’t a term that gets thrown around a lot in the modern era. But it’s a rich word, with depth and importance. It’s similar to respect, but it also encompasses value and esteem. To honour someone means you treat them with weightiness. God literally gave Mary the biggest task to have been carried by any one person, apart from Jesus. How much must He have valued her? And what would I want others who value and esteem me to do? Whilst blessing and riches would be welcomed, if I really search my heart, more than anything else, I want to be trusted. I want my boss to give me a go at implementing that new idea. When I was still at home, I wanted my parents to trust that I wouldn’t have a party when they went away for a weekend. I want my husband to have full confidence in me as a mother and wife. And I want my daughter to trust my opinion and guidance because she knows I love her, instead of rebelling against it, as if I’m trying to short change her. And so I can see what it means for God when He favours and honours us. He finds us trustworthy. And the hardest opportunities and situations go to those who are trustworthy. So whilst Mary invited some of the most arduous challenges of her life by being highly favoured, it doesn’t sound so bad to be trusted by God.