Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Finding Favor

When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes . . . (Genesis 39:3).

Graduation day. A day toward which my wife had labored for nearly seven years. A day we had eagerly anticipated since the successful defense of her dissertation five months earlier.

The kids were dressed and ready. We had gone to the hotel lobby for breakfast, avoiding major spills. We were packed, ready to check out and get to the graduation ceremony site on schedule with time to spare. And then I lost my glasses.

I looked everywhere for those glasses – bedside table, bathroom, TV cabinet, drawers, under the bed and bedcovers. I scoured the place, several times over. Finally we had to leave or we’d be late. So much for time to spare. And so much for those glasses.

Graduation went well. I could see well enough to know that my wife had in fact received a diploma and that she was officially “Doctor” Crumpler. Lunch with family followed and then the drive home. That night, while unpacking our luggage, the glasses appeared – buried in my wife’s make-up bag, of all places. How they came to be there was the topic of some lively marital discussion for a while. It remains a mystery.

Why is it that we don’t always find things when we look for them? When we’re not looking, those things seem to find us: Glasses, keys, the remote, the checkbook, a baseball glove. Jesus told us to seek and we would find, but in ordinary life it doesn’t seem to work that way. We seek to no avail. We seek, but we are the found ones.

As Joseph proved himself in the service of Potiphar, the story tells us that Joseph “found favor” with his master. The favor came as a result of the success that God gave. Joseph doesn’t appear to have sought favor or even earned it. Joseph simply found what God had given him.

Joseph is not presented to us as a man who got what he wanted. He is not presented to us as a man who obtained what he pursued. Joseph is someone who found what God gave. God gave success, and in that Joseph found favor. This is another way of saying that Joseph lived by grace.

God invites us to live every day by his grace. This is not an invitation to passivity or laziness – but it’s a way of receiving what God gives. To live by grace means that you are not driven by your desires and wants. To live by grace means that your life is not a chase after some elusive prize.

Living by grace means that our seeking and finding is closely tied to God’s giving; the line that separates our finding and God’s giving is a wisp, one barely discernable from the other.

As you enter this day, what are you looking for? What has God given to you?

Gracious God, help me to live this day by your grace, finding what you give. Keep me from chasing the false rewards of this world. Keep me from being driven by my own empty desires. Give as you see fit, and find me as I serve you, in Christ’s name. Amen.

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