Growing up in my household meant three things: 1) we were surrounded by Florida humidity that could make a grocery store-bought perm cling flatly to one’s head 2) three very loud siblings and 3) the expectation that when a teacher assigned homework, it was no one else’s responsibility but your own to complete it and turn it in on time. It is because of these facts I still remember the shocking scene that played out at our breakfast table one spring morning of my second grade year.
Picture it with me . . . my non-morning person mother (it takes one to know one) in her robe, frantically scraping the black burnt spots off of four pieces of toast. (Now for those of you who grew up with more of a Martha Stewart-type momma, I need to educate you that toast, if left in the oven too long, actually turns black and when said black substance requires removal with a butter knife, loud scraping occurs). Back to the scene. This loud scraping and a few cuss words—I mean motherly blessings—are the soundtrack to the chaos of too little time and a school bus that is headed in our direction. The knife could also be used to cut the tension that hangs in the air as four hungry children are needing to be fed and orange juice is calling for attention as it runs across the table, making a quick getaway to the floor from the plastic cup that now lies on its side in the kindergartner’s hand.
My older brother casually announces, “Oh yeah mom, I forgot to tell you. I need a musical instrument today.”
“A what?! I think you may have a harmonica in your room, but you don’t have time to dig through all that crap in there to find it.”
“No mom, it can’t be one that we already have. It has to be one we made.”
As she exclaims, my eight-year-old mind concludes that this will be a fun drama to watch unfold. (What sibling at that age isn’t smiling and thinking, “Boy is he gonna get!” Okay so maybe it’s just me and the multi-colored coat-wearing Joseph’s brothers that felt that way). I sit there with charred toast in my hand, absolutely stunned at what is occurring. My mother who has parented us to be responsible self-starters hurriedly leaps into action.
I watch in disbelief as this tired, flabbergasted woman swings into a creative frenzy. She grabs two Styrofoam cups, tape, ric rac from her sewing stash, and before I can force my orange juice down my jealous throat, she has created THE coolest (I was eight, so “cool” was how I saw them) pair of maracas. Just when I think that my brother could not be any luckier, she heads out to the backyard, barefoot in the dewy grass, and returns with two bird feathers. I kid you not! Bird feathers are then tied with twine to the sticks that the future musician will hold.
You’ve got to be joking! This is so unfair! It was his project, and he didn’t do it, and now he will have the best one in the class! These were my jealous thoughts.
As a parent you may be judging, I would NEVER do that, and the school teacher inside of me says that it was cheating, but I tell you I will never forget what it felt like to watch unmerited favor in action. My brother went on to graduate top of his class in high school (and neither Mom nor Dad ever did another project for him), but on that one maraca morning, I experienced what God does for us.
He intervenes when we don’t deserve it, He calls us his favored ones, He steps in between us and hell by offering His only Son on the cross. I am reminded of this undeserved favor when my door bell rings and I discover a gift from a friend for no reason on my front porch. I feel His underserved grace when I come to Him for forgiveness for committing the same sin AGAIN. His undeserved favor surrounds me when I look at my family, my home, and my extremely full belly. He has provided my every need. I sleep in His favor as I lay my head on my pillow and when I sense His presence in the middle of the night. Most of all and best of all, we will receive undeserved favor when we stand before Him and He welcomes us in because of His Son’s blood that was shed.
You are loved today! You are highly favored! You are the apple of His eye. You are His favorite. Let’s enjoy our undeserved maracas today!