Last year Josh insisted on celebrating our wedding anniversary at a theme park (this is what happens after a few years of marriage, kids. Scrap the romance, go for thrills).
So off we went, stocked up with water and sunscreen and, I admit, some Gravol, which we did need to use. And although some might argue we’re getting a little old to be riding anything with the word “Behemoth” in it, we actually had a pretty great day together.
You know why it was fun, though?
Because we felt safe.
When you get on a roller coaster, the only way to enjoy the ride is to assume you are, in fact, going to be ok. When you know you’re safe, you can experience the thrill factor without the fear factor.
But if I got on a roller coaster and wasn’t really sure I was going to get off of it in one piece, or even be alive at all, I would be terrified. Every twist and turn, every up and down, would throw me into a wild panic.
This is what life feels like sometimes.
This is what relationships can feel like. They’re up and down. Because people go up and down. People go through stuff. I go through stuff. I zig zag. If you could have seen Josh and I earlier this year when we were job-hunting for him for months, to no avail, you would have seen a pretty sharp zig-zag.
I feel like there are these whole seasons of time in life and in relationships - especially whenever big, important decisions need to be made - where there are so many interpersonal dynamics and conflicting opinions (hello, American election) and just crazy stuff flying around that it feels like being pulled up into a tornado. You’re flying through the air wondering where this thing is going to land and what life is going to look like on the other side. It can be terrifying.
The other morning I woke up wrestling with a few different situations that felt chaotic and frustrating and, yes, a little scary.
I scrolled quickly through my social media feeds (quickly being my key word for Facebook these days) and noticed a friend had just posted this Scripture:
Let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may exult in you.
For you bless the righteous, o Lord;
you cover him with favor
as with a shield.” (Psalm 5 v 11-12)
I began to think about it. God’s favour and blessing is protective. It shields. It keeps us safe.
Favour doesn’t mean we’re immune to difficulty. But it means that the promises of God remain intact in the midst of difficulty.
Favour doesn’t have to do with having a perfect, bump-free life. Favour is about God’s opinion being supreme over anyone else’s opinion of us.
Favour means that no person, no argument or attack or manipulation or scheme, can interrupt or threaten the plan and purpose of God for our lives.
Favour means that I am powerful. I am powerful, because God is for me. Not for any other reason. Just that. Just favour.
Something we all have to negotiate with at some point is how to use our personal power as individuals, and how to act when we don’t feel powerful.
I don’t know about you, but when I feel threatened or powerless in one area of life or in a relationship, my knee-jerk first response is to want to recover that power in another area, or over another person. I've learned to assume that this is always going to be my instinctive reaction, and that I need to fight it, because it’s destructive.
As imperfect humans our bent is to punish those who seemed to take power from us, whether by openly mud-slinging or by quietly poisoning others against that person.
Honestly, I think this is why places like Facebook have become such a sludge pit. Social media is a space that makes it easy for powerless people to try and slap other people around without actually having to look them in the face.
Sometimes we might also try to make up for our powerlessness by controlling ourselves in severe ways. Eating disorders, extreme exercise, or any obsessive-compulsive behaviours often can, I think, be traced back to some kind of perceived lack of personal power and safety.
And if we’re being real, we all struggle with this issue, in some way, at some time. I struggle with it! I really do.
But knowing God’s favour changes the struggle from feeling impossible to being redemptive.
Knowing we’re favoured by God means that we can learn how to hold fast to our vision for our lives when we’re getting mud slung at us.
Knowing we’re favoured means that when opposition and attack comes, or when poison creeps in to relationships, or when critical decisions hang in the air, we can remember what he said and it will be enough to get us through.
Do we get this? Favour is our shield. Favour makes us powerful in our inner being. Favour gives us peace to lean into God to defend our cause, even when it seems like no one else will. Knowing the favour of the Father is what protects and sustains the promise inside of us as we continue to move forward.
I’ve had moments in life where I knew beyond a doubt that God had spoken to me. Those moments have been anchors for me when circumstances get tough and whenever I’ve faced conflict or disagreement. Knowing I am highly favoured by the King of Kings and that his favour is protecting his promise keeps the horizon in sight, even in the middle of the hurricane.
Life might feel like a roller coaster, but no matter what happens, the promise won't die. He'll come through on what he said. Favour has you buckled in safe and sound.
What’s he saying to you today?