Eating Humble Pie, Seeking Amends

10:42 AMHeather

I'm back on track today with our ongoing exploration of grace, first found in Scripture in the form of the word favor.  Favor.  For such a little word, I'm finding loads of meaning--and application.  And, God gave me a big chance to practice the application of today's lesson in a real life experience last Friday.  But more on that later.

Reconciliation.  Not a word we hear much in our culture these days.  Naw, we're too busy licking our wounds and being offended to really perfect the art of reconciliation.  But, we see a pretty stellar example of it in the story of Jacob and Esau.  Now, thus far, we've looked at Cain and Abel and now Jacob and Esau.  Have to say, misery loves company--glad to know that the sibling rivalry between my boys is actually seen in Scripture as well.  And, my guys occasional tiffs over whose turn it is on the Xbox looks rather mild when compared to these Biblical brothers.  

So, Jacob was the deceiver and stole his brother's family blessing right out from under him.  And, then he ran in fear and hid from him for a very long time.  In our modern times, this might be the end of the story.  Or, we'd see Jacob in the headlines detailing all his justification for why Esau deserved such treatment.  They'd be dishing dirt back and forth on all the tabloids and entertainment news shows.  But, back in the day, Jacob learned a thing or two about humble pie. Which led him to seek out reconciliation with his brother.  And, lesson one?  Be humble enough in your heart to approach the one you offended with this type of attitude: 

I am sending this message to my lord, 
that I may find favor in your eyes.
Genesis 32:5
Do you hear the humility?  Jacob sends his servants, bearing gifts for his brother, with this message.  

1.  "My lord"--as in, I am your servant.  I am submitting to you.  
2.  "That I might find favor in your eyes"--as in, if you would be so kind, do me this favor--allow us to be reconciled.  

And, not just once do we see this in this story.  No, in fact, within Genesis 32 and 33, we see Jacob use this type of wording--"if I have found favor with you" four times.  He comes bearing many generous gifts and with a healthy fear of how Esau might respond.  Because, I dare to say, Jacob has realized just how wrong he was.  His attempts to reconcile were pure in his heart's motivation.  He sincerely wanted to right his wrong.

Lest we think that Jacob is some Biblical superhero, I want to point out that it is in the middle of this process that Jacob wrestles with God (Genesis 32:22-31).   Jacob feared destruction from Esau. I'd also venture to guess that he was battling his own pride.  In the midst, he prayed and wrestled with God.  And he had a bum hip from then on to remind him of that wrestling match.  Sometimes in life, we carry wounds and scars from the times we've wrestled with God.  Those times when we've battled our own will with God's plan for us.  Those very wounds and scars not only remind us of our dependence and need for the Lord--but also his faithfulness.  They remind us that blessings are often born from struggles.

We see in Genesis 33 that Esau responds favorably to his brother, and reconciliation, indeed, is obtained.  A lost and once dead relationship is restored and resurrected.  And in my own life, from this very passage, I am challenged with some thoughts when it comes to relationships.  Can I swallow my pride to approach someone I've wronged or offended?  Will I make the first move?  How much will I give--as Jacob gave gifts--in order to achieve reconciliation?  How humble will I be?  How sacrificial will I be in order to seek someone's favor?  It often involves humility and putting my agenda aside.  

As reconciliation was achieved, I am awed by one particular thing that stands out to me.  It's found in Genesis 33:15.  Esau offers his little brother some men for protection.  Body guards, so to speak,  which I thought was rather generous and probably really met a need back in that day.  But, just look at how Jacob responds.

Just let me find favor in the eyes of my lord.

Hmmm.  Jacob refused this gift.  For Jacob, the favor of his brother was more highly regarded than this gift--this security that Esau offered him.  I think Jacob was on to something.  He realized that obediently and humbly making things right and thus honoring God was of more worth than anything else we might gain the process.  Yes, I see no ulterior motives in Jacob's efforts to reconciliation.  Purely wanted to make the relationship right.  Because it's what God wanted him to do.
Glimpse of grace:  I had the opportunity to apply these principles of reconciliation and humility this past week.  Well, actually, there was no relationship broken per se, but I was attempting to right a wrong situation.  My oldest son, for the first time ever, found himself locked into a class with a teacher that wasn't working out for him.   To the point that he wanted out.  Never has that happened.  And, I realized to accomplish anything, I'd need to deal with someone at the school with whom I'd not had good experiences.  Gulp.  In fact, I have felt wronged by this person in her attitude toward me in the past.  But, she held the golden ticket, so to speak.  So, I sat in her office, once again, on the receiving end of her attack.  Essentially, what I was asserting to be the problem--she said could never have happened.  My mind screamed out, "she's calling you a liar."  But, praise the Lord, the Spirit nudged me.  And, it was louder.  It reminded me to be humble--to seek favor.  So, I kept my big mouth shut.  The problem I was explaining was indeed, found to be true, but the only solution was far fetched.  It would require administrative approval.  It sounded like a long shot.  And, again, I obeyed the Spirit, kept my mouth shut from demanding my rights for my child.  I simply smiled and thanked her for pursuing that long shot.  

It was like God's hand was covering my mouth to keep me out of my own way.  I was silently praying the whole time, and it was only God that kept me from spewing my frustration.  I high tailed it to the car, lest I inadvertently call out to her, "What is your problem?  Why have you been rude?!"  I remembered that favor is to be sought and humility is required.  I jumped in the van, calling my husband and a friend to ask them to PRAY now for God's favor in the conversation that would soon be happening at that school.  I messaged some great prayer warriors and asked them to join me in simply praying God's favor for my son.  Not because he deserved it or it was due him.  In fact, if the schedule change wasn't granted, I was sure my son would be just fine--albeit frustrated.  But, I pleaded with the Lord that if we had found favor in His eyes, He would indeed grant this favor.

I am not kidding.  15 minutes later, the phone rang and it was done.  And, I thanked the school representative for granting us this favor.  I told her I knew she didn't have to do this, and we were grateful she did.  I swallowed my pride.  Guess what?  She sought my son out on Monday to be sure he was happy and it was going well.

Do you know how awesome it was to spill the whole story to my son?  On his birthday?  "Hey buddy!  God kept your big mouthed mama bear out of the way so that He could pour out favor on you today!"  Beaming and smiling, my son was thrilled.  You want to know the most amazing bow on this package of favor?  His schedule was changed to give him his beloved 4th grade teacher who meant so much to him 3 years ago.  And, not only that--her classroom is now a digital classroom, which means iPads for each student during their interactive learning.  

He nearly jumped out of his seat.  And, I almost had tears in my eyes when I said, "Collin, that's just God's heart for you.  He didn't have to do that--and it would have been fine.  But, He showed up today to pour out favor and to keep your mom out of the way.  Just because He can.  He would have helped you through if the change wasn't granted.  But, on your birthday, God just poured out some major favor on you!"  A-men and a-men.  I love when God shows me some truth and then challenges me to apply it.  Well, love in a brutal-it's hard-but-awesome-too kind of way.  Humble pie and submission to the Lord.  Not so easy to do.  But, the blessings I'll miss if I don't give it a try.


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