In the post holiday hush, I have been thinking about a pregnant teenager far wiser and bolder than I.
Every year we sing alleluia, come let us adore him. There is such humility and goodness wrapped up in the Christmas bundle that is Jesus, but what about Mary, his powerful, deeply faithful mother? I love taking a moment to sit with her, be it April or December, January or May, because hers is a story of surrender.
We meet Mary as a small-town girl newly betrothed. Walking into a new season of being engaged and giddily in love, I relate.
What was this young couple like? Were they inseparable? Did Mary lie awake at night, dreaming like I’ve started to do, of my sweet fiance’s face when I come down the aisle? Were dreams bubbling up in Mary’s heart, ready to overflow into reality? Was she the town favourite? The go-to babysitter?
You can leave your children with Mary, she’s always had a good head on her shoulders. Have you seen her and Joseph together, aren’t they sweet? That Mary, so reliable, she’ll make a fine wife.
Much of Mary’s life is a mystery to me, and that of course, is the point. She was a nobody who God had seen as worthy all along. A nobody God was going to transform into a somebody.
When this precious girl is approached by an angel and he greets her, the Bible says she is greatly troubled, perplexed by unexpected favour from God. In no way did Mary consider herself fit for carrying a Saviour because she is meekness personified. But God knew. He chose her as his vessel, trusting in Mary’s mild, gentle nature.
As the angel delivers news of a virgin birth, I marvel at her response.
Fearful me, selfish me would cry out but what of my reputation? How do I face my beloved? Why me, Lord, could you not choose another?! People will talk, my parents will disown me, my life will be ruined.
Did any of these thoughts race through Mary’s mind? Perhaps.
But she simply asks the angel what we’re all thinking, “How will this be?” She does not doubt God’s capability, she just wants to see His game plan.
I love that the angel gives step one only, not two, three, four. God asks us to depend on him, fully aware that we’re greedy individuals who want more, more, more. We aren’t satisfied with taking one step at a time, we want to run through life in our own strength.
The angel says God will overshadow Mary and that is enough for her. And then, in a move so typical of God, he surprises her by saying that her aunt, Elizabeth, will also conceive a son despite her old age. He rewards our trust with blessing upon blessing. My child, he says, lean on me. My yoke is easy and my burden light. Worry not. I’ve got this.
The Bible tells us that Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
Oh to be that brave.
Mary offers everything up to God, her heart so soft and innocent.
I like to imagine Mary joyfully rushing towards Elizabeth later on, their embrace as expectant mothers, bound together in their faith journeys by the arrival of little boys.
“For behold,” says Elizabeth, “when the sound of your greeting came to my ears the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” I want to believe with as much certainty as these lovely women.
We all know how the story goes – the bright star moving ever closer to Bethlehem, the manger, the baby.
What baffles me is that even when there was no place for Mary’s family at the inn, she accepted God’s place for her elsewhere. She had been submitting to God’s plan for her life from the beginning, there was no reason to stop. Even in the midst of labor, after hours of travel, she managed to believe.
How beautiful that birth was.
Just Mary and Joseph, two kids suddenly alone with the responsibility of bringing God’s son into the world. I picture Joseph gazing at his future wife and saying you. were. spectacular. And I picture Mary cradling Jesus in her arms and murmuring yes, you are worth my everything.
My favourite part of this whole story comes months after Jesus’ birth, after the stream of visitors has slowed. “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
Mary takes a moment to dwell on what the Lord has done, treasuring up reminders of his promises fulfilled. She ponders his goodness and the miracle he completed through her.
With 2015 rapidly unfolding, I want to take a Mary approach to life. I need to be still and know. I need to ponder what God has done and is doing through me. I yearn to be softened that God may steer me wherever he desires. I’m sure Mary was afraid at times – none of us would blame her. But her faith was undeniable.
We’ll never understand, I don’t think, the bond between Mary and her Savior son. She watched him die in order that she may live, which is so backwards. I am thankful though, for a backwards, full of surprises God who cherishes us.
He is the reason for an ongoing season of joy and strengthened belief. He will always be the reason.
-Bible passages from Luke 1-2 ESV-