Updated: Feb 6, 2021
Something happened to me last week that caused me to remember two stories in the Bible about women who found favor in the eyes of God.
The first is the description of Mary when the angel appeared to announce that she would give birth to Jesus. Luke 1:26-28 says, "In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, 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.' "
Mary was no doubt stunned and amazed at this news, but her song of praise reveals even more about her heart and the reason God chose her. She fully acknowledged how blessed she was.
Luke 1:46-49 -- "And Mary said: 'My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.' " She chose gratitude over fear.
The second story I thought of concerned the woman brought before Jesus who had been caught in the act of adultery. According to the law, she deserved to be stoned, which would have been a horrible, humiliating death. Instead, Jesus turned the situation around so that her accusers were forced to face their own sins.
John 8:1-11 -- "but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Another day perhaps we can discuss why the man she was "caught in adultery" with wasn't also about to be stoned. For today, though, I've tried to imagine how that woman felt who was bracing herself for the first harsh blow from a rock but instead looked up to see the face of Jesus realizing she was being given a pardon and a chance to start fresh. The amazement of understanding that while Jesus was teaching the scribes and Pharisees a lesson she herself had been granted His undeserved favor and mercy must have been life-changing for her.
My incident pales in comparison but still leaves me amazed and grateful.
In the state and county where I live, only those who are 75+ of age or essential and front line workers are being given Covid-19 vaccinations. . . . so far. I had heard that there were cases when people failed to show up for appointments, or there was vaccine left at the end of the day that had to be disposed of if no one was there to receive it. I had also just learned that the age limit had been dropped to 65+ beginning February 8. I decided to get in the line at the county health department to find out if what I'd heard was true and figured that at the very least, I could make an appointment for February 8 or shortly thereafter.
When I reached the first screening station, I explained that I was not 75 yet but wondered about those extra doses possible at the end of the day. The lady said, "I've had people to wait over 6 hours and STILL not be vaccinated." Then, inexplicably, she handed me a clipboard, showed me where to park, told me to fill out the paper, and go inside. I did exactly what she said, still expecting to be turned away. But when I got inside and started saying, "I'm not 75 yet," the lady at the next checkpoint said, "Don't tell me. Have a seat and let's fill out the rest of your information. And, by the way, you don't LOOK 75." !!!! Then she pointed me to the line where the shots were being given. Three minutes later, I was waiting the required 15 minutes to be sure I didn't have an allergic reaction and had an appointment card for my second shot in my hand.
Startled. Stunned. Thrilled. Excited. I have no idea why those two women chose to show me favor. I had never seen either of them before in my life. But, it felt so good, and I walked out of the building feeling completely blessed and relieved.
Have you received unexplained, unexpected favor or grace from someone recently? What effect did it have on you? I would love to hear about it.