God’s Most Favorite Child: Thoughts on Grace, Provision, and God’s Economy

For as long as I can remember my mother has possessed an uncanny ability to snag the very front parking spot in whatever parking lot she happens to be in. Not like, near the front. The very first available spot. The one that’s practically inside of the store and is also under the only shade tree in the lot. “I am God’s most favorite child!” she would spout in triumph, gliding into that parking spot like it was a front-row seat at the Super bowl.

I love my mother for this. For the way she taught me to see the fingerprints of God in something as ordinary as a parking spot.

Of course, she wasn’t trying to make some deep theological statement here. I don’t think she believed we could measure God’s favor by the way he doled out parking spots. There was no assumption that God gave the choice spots a few of his favorites while the less favorite were relegated to the back of the lot and the really awful people had to park across the street. She simply saw a good thing and let it point her, and all of us, straight to God.

Over the past few months as we’ve moved steadily towards the end of our time in Korea and the beginning of a new chapter in South Carolina, I have struggled with anxiety. I have struggled to believe that everything would work out. That I could trust God to provide a job with sufficient income, a place to live, vehicles to drive, new friends and community.

Even as the pieces began to fall into place I continued to Children-of-Israel the situation. Remember the Israelites in the desert? God delivered those dummies out of slavery by parting a sea and they were like, “Did you bring us here to starve?!” and then he sent them MANNA FROM HEAVEN and they were like, “Ugh. Did you bring us here to die of boredom from eating the same food over and over?”

I like to make fun of them because I see myself in them so much. My whining skills are top-notch. (My husband says he shudders to think that our children will inherit that from me). So even as God has opened doors and provided for us over and over again, I’ve continued to come up with new insurmountable obstacles to complain about. And God, in spite of my grumbling and in spite of my disbelief, has continued to provide.

I want to share the story of how God is providing for us. I want to give credit where credit is due. But in the past few years I’ve become more concerned with right theology when it comes to things like God’s blessings. I think “blessed” is one of the most overused and misunderstood words in the Christian vocabulary (but more on that another time). In particular, I am very uncomfortable with the idea that good things in my life are a sign of favor or blessing. I believe that all good things in the world come from God, but if I say that the good things in my life are from God’s favor or blessings, what does that mean for people who aren’t experiencing good things?

I know there are several of you who are in a similar situation to mine right now – preparing for a big move or a big life change and experiencing a lot of anxiety about it. I would never want to imply that things are falling into place for us because God is blessing us, but if they aren’t falling into place for you it’s because God is choosing not to bless you. I don’t believe that’s true.

I want to share how God is providing for us. If you are in a season where you aren’t seeing things work out and you feel anxious, I hope you can be encouraged by this story rather than discouraged. A parent doesn’t always give a child everything they want in the moment that they want it, but that doesn’t mean the parent doesn’t love that child or is no longer present with that child. So with that in mind, here’s our story.

The first major provision came in cars. We sold both of our old beaters before moving to Korea and have no vehicles. Jonathan’s grandmother recently decided to give up driving and offered to sell us her car inexpensively. And then my dad told us that he was planning to get rid of his big vehicle (a Tahoe) but that the trade-in value is minimal even though it’s not that old, because it has high mileage. He offered to donate it to us which means a tax break for him and a free car for us. Grace.

Next we were stressed about finding a place to live. We’re in a unique situation trying to “view” places and apply to rent them from another country. Imagine being a landlord and getting an email saying, “We live in South Korea and we don’t have jobs in America so we can’t prove our income, and our current landlord only speaks Korean so he can’t give you a reference, but we’re really great, I promise!” Not surprisingly, we weren’t getting lots of positive responses.

And then something amazing happened. I have an old family friend living in Columbia – our families were friends when I was a kid and I was friends with her little sister, but we haven’t seen them in 15 years or more. But I got in touch with her to ask about Columbia stuff and she volunteered to go look at places for us. At first I felt bad asking that of someone I didn’t know that well, but she was so kind and enthusiastic about it that we quickly gave in and accepted some amazing help. Guys. Lorien is the bomb.com. Like the actual bomb.com. She arranged viewings, talked to landlords, went to places, took pictures, made videos, found new listings for us, etc.

We signed a lease on a condo by the end of the week. Initially we really wanted a house for the charm factor, but God provided a beautiful condo that’s going to be awesome. It’s the most spacious and nicest place we’ve ever rented with a kitchen that makes me swoon. It’s comfortably within our budget and it is less than a mile from Lorien’s house which also helps put us at ease about our concern for friends and community. Grace.

While I still don’t have a full-time job lined up, I have been wishfully thinking that I’d like to work part-time and do freelancing/work-remotely things part-time so I have a more flexible schedule. As of right now I have two long-term freelance writing contracts and one more in the works. All three of these contracts have come through friends or other old connections that have randomly resurfaced. Grace.

When I look back at each of these graces, I can see God’s hand and his provision, and I realized that my mother was right. She is God’s most favorite child. And so am I. And so are you. And so is my frustrating coworker. And so is my most disrespectful student. And so is your Mother-in-Law.

God’s economy is not finite. Lavishing love on me doesn’t mean he has any less to give to you. It is the one economy in which all of our being of equal worth doesn’t diminish our value. And that is a divine, unearned, and irresistible grace.

I hope this can be an encouragement to you, wherever you are in your life, especially if you are like me and can always find something to stress out about. Take a breath and look for the places where God has stepped in, even when it didn’t look the way you wanted it to. Often you can find him in unexpected places if you only choose to look.

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16 comments

  1. “And God, in spite of my grumbling and in spite of my disbelief, has continued to provide” – yes! I need to sit down and make a list of my own about how God is providomg for me. Thanks for sharing yours!

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    1. Thanks, Judith. I grew up in a church that absolutely would have labelled this “favor.” Personally, I’m a little uncomfortable with calling it “favor” because I think we have a misunderstanding of the biblical concept of favor. Think of Mary, for example. The Bible calls her “blessed and highly favored among women.” Pregnant teenager whose fiance wants to secretly divorce her. Who gives birth in a dirty stable. Who then watches her firstborn suffer and die a horrible and undeserved death. I think “favor” simply means that someone is used by God, but it may not mean that they have an easy or comfortable life. In fact, it probably means they won’t!

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  2. Lily, thank you so much for sharing this. I felt like you were describing my life. It’s so tempting to become frustrated when I am not in control. I always have to remind myself that what God defines as “good’ for me might not be what I would define it as.

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    1. Ugh. Not being in control. It’s the worst. But it’s also kind of the best if you can get over how scary it feels. 🙂 I also feel that I spend a lot of time trying to figure how God’s going to provide for me and then getting frustrated when it doesn’t turn out that way. I want to get better at trusting he’s going to provide without feeling like I have to figure out all of the details myself. 🙂

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  3. Oh to remember this, every little detail. And somehow, someway not be quite as short-sighted, as forgetful, as those Israelites in the moments that don’t feel quite as grace filled. Wishing you the best as you make this huge transition!

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    1. Thank you, Katie! And yes, it’s amazing and humbling to me how quickly I forget God’s provision. There have been so many times in my life when things were out of my control and everything still worked out and instead of looking on those moments and holding fast to them as promises from a God who cares, I tend to think, “Sure, you provided in the past, but this time is different. I don’t think you’re gonna this time.” Hangs head in shame. The only good news here is that God is not surprised by our lack of faith and he is faithful even when we are not!

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  4. This was a beautiful post, with reminders that I desperately needed to hear today. Thank you so much. I hope you enjoy life in Columbia! I went to college there, and it’s where I met my husband and where we got married–lots of wonderful memories. Cool Beans was our go-to coffee shop downtown, providing much-needed caffeine fuel for all-nighters. If you go and you like sweet coffees, be sure to order a ‘perfect woman.’ It has chocolate at the bottom, so the last sip is pure chocolatey goodness. 🙂

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  5. I really appreciate this post. I know this is a late comment, but I’m finally catching up on my blog readings. Thank you for posting this, I connect with it. I have anxiety too. I have depression. i have both.

    And in the midst of that, I find joy. And it makes no sense, despite my disbelief.

    Thank you, Lily!

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