Every Christmas I always love reading through the Christmas story. And every time I read the story, I’m always struck by Mary’s response to the miraculous message she received from the angel Gabriel. If you’re familiar with the story you know that one day when Mary was going about her daily routine, an angel appears out of nowhere telling her that she was highly favored. She had no idea what that meant, and she was afraid. The angel goes on to say that she would give birth to a son whom she would name Jesus. This special child would be called a child of the Most High and He would rule on David’s throne forever.
Awesome sauce! (My new favorite phrase. )
Now imagine you’re a young woman (somewhere between 14-19), you’re engaged to be married, and minding your own business and an angel shows up with this “good news”. You’re about to have the long awaited Messiah. You are responsible for raising this special child who would fulfill the prophecies. You.
Ok. If it was me, I would not only be perplexed about the logistics of how I could have a baby because I’m a virgin, but I would feel an amazing weight of pressure. Are you kidding? I have to bring the savior into the world? Me? It’s all up to me to make sure this child fulfills His destiny. If I mess this up, the world is doomed! I’d probably completely miss the rest of Gabriel’s words to me, as my mind is flooded with all the ways I could mess up this child and what could I do to avoid it. Ok, I need to see the obstetrician, sign up for lamaze classes, get my prenatal vitamins, read the books,”What to Expect when you’re expecting the Messiah”, “How to Raise up a King”, and “Mothering the Son of the Most High”.
But not Mary.
Yes, she questioned how this could happen to her since she was a virgin, but once she was told by the Angel that “the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will over shadow you…” and “For nothing is impossible with God”, she responded with simple belief.
“I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”
For Mary, the word of the Lord through the messenger Gabriel was enough.
The angel never said that Mary was responsible for making sure any of these things come to pass. And He only left one instruction. Name him Jesus. No parenting tips. No commands. Nothing. Here it was that Mary was to be the mother of Jesus and she was given no instructions on how to raise him.
I want you to take a moment to ponder that.
She was very young. She’d had no children before, and most likely she’d have little to no support from her community since she would be pregnant outside of the covenant marriage. Can you imagine how hard this might have been? Imagine telling your friends and acquaintances that you’re pregnant by the Holy Spirit! This was a culture that put to death anyone who was sexually immoral. She was being placed in a very difficult position. She could lose everything in order to bear the long awaited Messiah. Here it was that she was a part of the most beautiful and miraculous event in the history of mankind, and you can be sure that most people looked at her with disgust and shame.
Highly favored by God.
Disgraced by men. (Joseph wanted to break their pledge quietly so that she wouldn’t be disgraced publicly.)
But thought to be guilty of immorality.
Mary didn’t choose this highly favored position. God chose her. But she did get to choose her response to this announcement, and she chose to believe. In fact, when she first entered the home of her relative Elizabeth which she had heard through the angel Gabriel was having a child in her old age after being barren, Elizabeth proclaimed,”…Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” She spoke these words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Mary truly believed the words of God through the angel.
Then Mary goes on to praise God for the magnificent blessings that she was being allowed to partake in. She focused on the goodness of the one who had chosen her. She remembered his good deeds through the history of Israel. She remembered His promises.
She didn’t complain about how hard it was going to be,or how unfair it was that she would have to go through this or what would Joseph think… Nor did she worry. Nor did she allow fear to paralyze her.
She trusted that the God who had spoken these things to her would bring them to pass. It was up to the Most High God to accomplish these magnificent things. She knew she was completely incapable.
Like Mary, you and I have been chosen to be the mother of our children.
And how have we chosen to respond? I remember responding very badly when I discovered that I was pregnant with my fourth child. I knew I wanted to have another child, but I wasn’t quite ready at the time. I was teaching school, and had a 1 year old, a 3 year old and a 7 year old. I was already maxed out. As I considered how hard it would be to add another child to the mix, I became depressed. Then I felt guilty because I wasn’t thankful for the blessing that I was chosen to receive.
How could I do this?
Honestly, I don’t remember when I came to the point of acceptance for this new little blessing, but eventually I did. Like Mary, I had to trust that the Most High God would intervene to accomplish His purposes. I could not carry the weight of this burden on my own. It was too much to bear. It still is. And every day I must bow before the throne of the Most High God asking Him to fulfill His purposes in each of my children. And in me.
Like Mary, it’s not up to me. It’s up to Him.
For nothing is impossible with Him!
Not only did Mary choose to believe, but she surrendered her life as a servant to the Most High God. Her comfort wasn’t her primary concern. Fulfilling her dreams wasn’t her priority. God called and She answered, Yes. She would do whatever he asked of her.
Oh, Father may we all have this attitude. May we give ourselves completely to you, for you have given yourself completely to us. May we abandon ourselves into your care. May our answer to your call always be “Yes!” No matter how hard. No matter how uncomfortable. Even when we don’t understand. And especially when others question our motives or even criticize them.
After Jesus was born, and the shepherds appeared, scripture records that “she treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
Later, when Jesus was twelve years old, he and his family went to Jerusalem for the passover. Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his family didn’t know it. After searching for Jesus and eventually finding him in the temple courts sitting among the teachers, listening and asking them questions, Mary says,”Why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” Jesus responded by asking them,”Why were you searching for me?” “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
They had no idea what he was talking about.
Then he obediently went back home with them, and Mary treasured all these thing in her heart.
Mary didn’t understand these things, but she treasured them, and thought about these events often. Perhaps she even prayed about them. And because she never forgot about them, she was able to share these treasured memories with others who eventually wrote them down.
Like Mary, we can treasure and ponder every moment of our parenting journey. The hard and difficult moments. The confusing and frustrating moments. The wonderful moments. Each moment can be pondered and treasured for God is present in every moment revealing His faithfulness, his love and power.
When we answer yes to God’s call, we get to be apart of something spectacular!
In spite of Mary( and Joseph) not understanding, in spite of her youth, in spite of her lack of support, in spite of her lack of resources,in spite of a lack of instructions, Jesus grew physically–in height and strength. He was filled with wisdom. And He found favor with God and people. As we know by reading the “rest of the story”, we know that God’s words through the angel were fully accomplished.
If the Most High God can do all of these things for Mary, will he not do it for us?
As we enter into this new year, may we too be women who proclaim, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.