December 16th 2018
"Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God."
A beautifully wrapped box leaned against my office door. Whoever left it there had taken great care to neatly fold the paper, ensuring exact creases. A complimentary silver bow juxtaposed the black paper, pronouncing a level of quality. This was a grade up from the Dollar Store.
What struck me was the weight of the gift box as I hoisted to my hip. Rocks? Paper weights? Lead pellets? It was heavy.
I opened the card first, tearing a small hole and sliding my index finger along the top. As I pulled the card from its holster, a neatly folded piece of paper feel to the floor.
I picked it up and read:
"Principles of Embalming--final grade, A-minus." I looked again, double checking the document. "Funeral Service Pathology--final grade, A." Evidently I was viewing a transcript. No ordinary transcript. A transcript for being a Funeral Director.
"Dear Bruce," began the note. "UrbanPromise made a difference for me, once again, so I could finish the spring semester. Your gift didn't just encourage me to finish the semester, but it reminded me that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Love Chivon."
God use people--you and me--to remind others that they have potential, worth and favor.
For a moment I pondered. Then remembered her SOS email. It came one cold morning six months earlier. Chivon, a young woman who grew up at UrbanPromise, had run out money and needed $300 to stay enrolled in her Funeral Services degree. I was able to call a friend and get the money. Apparently it made the difference. Not only did she finish the degree (and not only will I get embalmed at a discount!), but it reminded her of God's faithfulness and gave her the confidence to believe that her life could be extraordinary.
Extraordinary lives don't just happen by accident. They are often the result of choices. Some strategic. Sometimes being in the right place at the right time, prepared and ready to take advantage of the fleeting opportunity that drops in our lap. But sometimes it's having a friend, a counselor, a family member, a pastor, even a stranger intervene at a critical moment who reminds you that you have found favor with God. God uses people--you and me--to remind others that they have potential, worth and favor.
"So why mortician school?" I innocently asked.
"When my grandmother died I didn't have money to pay to get her hair done," she reminisced. "So I asked the funeral parlor to let me make up her hair and prepare her for burial. It was a meaningful and healing experience for me. I've decided I now want to minister to grieving people during this period of their lives."
Advent is truly a season of sharing hope and light. It was no accident that inside Chivon's heavy gift box were three large candles. I am humbled to be part of a ministry that sends ambassadors of hope, like Chivon, into the world.
Founder & President
- Reflect on a time when someone has intervened in your life during a critical moment. What did you learn from that experience?
- What opportunities do you have to bring hope to someone who needs encouragement to persevere this week?