I can't help but think of Mary this time of year. Maybe it's because I'm a girl. Or a mom. Or a wife. Or a daughter. Or a person confused and stretched by all the roles I play.
When we meet her in Scripture, she's young and engaged. She’s ready for a new season of life. Married life. But something happens that interrupts her engagement with plans from heaven that make absolutely no sense.
"Greetings, favored one, the Lord is with you!"
If I was Mary, this would freak me out. Why is he calling me “favored one?” Why is he telling me the Lord is with me? I mean… I know all of that is true but what is going on here?!
“...she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept wondering what kind of salutation this was.”
No. Doubt. Bless her heart!! I would have been bracing myself for whatever was coming next. “Perplexed” would be an understatement. Glad to know Mary was a lot like me.
The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary”
I guess he could tell by the look on her face…
"You have found favor with God."
Yes… you mentioned that Gabriel… what’s next… I’m nervous…
"And behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son… and you shall call his name JESUS."
Ummmmm… Gabriel… I hate to tell you this… but maybe you have the wrong Mary. I’m a teenager. I’m not married. I’ve never even “been with” a man….
"He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High."
"And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of his father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end."
I'm assuming she could only whisper at this point. But she was somehow able to utter a profound question… a human question… a sincere question.
'How can this be, since I am a virgin?'
What a perfectly reasonable question… how can this be?
"The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you..."
This is not just a sweet story with carefully crafted characters and a happy ending.
This really happened.
The Savior of the world was going to come out of the womb of an ordinary young girl… who was a virgin.
The response from that ordinary young virgin girl is what stirs me this time of the year.
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the Holy Child shall be called the Son of God.”
And she said… in all her averageness… in all her youth… in all her fear… in all her inadequacies…
"Let it be to me according to your word."
And the angel departed.
Her mission… her calling… was imparted to her soul in that moment. Her response revealed that she agreed to walk in faith. She had been prepared by the most High for this moment. Every step she had taken up to this point was ordained by Him to prepare her to receive this calling.
She received it.
When I think about Mary during this season, I often consider how this certainly wasn't her plan. And I’m so impressed that she didn't offer Gabriel a better plan. I think I totally would have. I mean… she was about to get married… to Joseph… a man who loved her and loved God! Her plan seemed like a totally decent and reasonable plan. They were going to live happily ever after. Sure, they wanted kids… but down the road. When they had money saved and owned their own home and lived close to relatives..............not now. Not yet.
But knowing all of that, she said…
"I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."
I long for that to be the cry of my heart.
When things aren’t going according to my plan during a day or a month or a year, I want to have the heart that Mary had. “Let it be to me according to your Word.”
I want to have that trust.
I want to have that obedience.
I want to have that surrender.
So I whisper it to Him… in my moments of struggle and wrestling with my current calling and the demands of my daily schedule and I say HOW CAN THIS BE??
He whispers right back in that still small voice of His…
There is a way.
And in that powerful reminder from the Holy Spirit, my Word-informed spirit responds:
That is both Who and What came in the manger. Immanuel. God with us.
A way to wrap my heart and mind and soul and strength around the posture of heart that Mary had. The YES LORD posture we can have when things make no sense and God asks for all my plans in surrender to His.
He sent a way.
He has the scars to prove it.
He sent The Truth.
The Truth that convicts and changes and converts and SAVES. The Truth that gives us the strength to walk in obedience. The Truth that empowers us to hear His voice and respond to it.
He sent the LIFE.
And He gave His life.
So we could know the babe in the manger. Eternally.
No one comes to the Father… but through Him.
Through the babe in the manger.
The One on a holy assignment to save the world.
The One Mary got to carry. To nourish. To birth.
She had her own holy assignment, to be sure.
So do I.
There was a season where it was changing diapers and wiping hineys and praying over my boys that they would grow to be powerfully used by God. And praying for strength to make it through each day.
Often now it looks like washing dishes. Serving my family. Helping with Algebra homework and talking about having a Christlike attitude between problem solving for X.
It looks like serving my family dinner. Every. Single. Day.
Loving the ladies I work with.
He whispers and reminds me that all of that is significant.
It's my holy assignment from Him. For this season.
No, I’m not carrying the Lord almighty in my womb. But in Christ, I’m a highly favored one.
He dispenses grace to help with the laundry, with dinner, with work, with algebra, and with a posture of heart that pleases Him as I do those things. The Most High overshadows me; the Holy Spirit has come upon me. To give me the response that Mary had no matter what my day demands of me… and no matter what the Lord calls me to do.
There's a Way in a Manger.
He came through a young teenage virgin who said YES to God.
He was placed in a manger. But He didn’t stay there.
He went to the Cross. For us. But He didn’t stay there.
He was put in a grave. For three days. He didn’t stay there either.
He’s coming again. We can be sure of that.
May He find us walking worthy of our calling.
There’s a way.
His name is Jesus.
"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior… for He who is mighty has done great things for me… and holy is His name." Luke 1:46-47