Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Every Christmas since I was a child, I think of Mary, serenely and quietly sitting, holding the baby Jesus, glowing, smiling. And unrealistic. She was just a girl, given a task of birthing the Savior of the world.
Mary. A young girl, thought to be barely a teenager, caught between childhood and adulthood, yet promised to a man she hardly knew, who was already planning their lives together.
But here's my burning question: How did Mary find her favor with the most high God?
What Mary was asked to do was hard. She was potentially risking it all, according to the culture of the day. Rejection of family and friends, the inability to ever marry or be able to make a living. Could she have told the angel 'no'? I believe so but I also believe that God knew what her answer would be and that she would do what was being asked of her. But she was terrified and all she had go by was what an angel was telling her, which contradicted everything her mind was telling her.
The angel said, "Do not be afraid." Mary trembled in fear.
The angel said, "You will become pregnant." Mary knew she'd never been intimate with any man, including her fiancé.
The angel said, "Your cousin, who is a little past her prime, is pregnant-6 months!"
And Mary pauses. Even though she might lose it all, she pauses. Without having the entire picture in front of her, she pauses. She trembles in fear, but she pauses still. And in that pause, she speaks her heart.
Are we like Mary? Even when God is doing something through us because he has found favor with us, do we tremble in fear? Do we question our worth? Our abilities? Do we beg him to choose someone else? But what if we are THE ONE? The one with whom God has found favor. Not the first and not the last (God has found favor with many and will find it with many more) but the ONE for this moment? The ONE who can minister to someone else who needs to know someone cares. The ONE who can remind someone that God still cares. The ONE who can share her story of redemption.
After all of those emotions, Mary says, "May it be. I am the Lord's servant. May it be according to His will."
From fear to surrender. Fear is all consuming and tells us why we shouldn't do what is being asked of us. Surrender is yielding to the authority of someone else, acknowledging their authority and wisdom. Fear will beg us not to give up control. Because what will happen if we give up control of our lives? BUT WHAT COULD HAPPEN IF WE GIVE UP CONTROL OF OUR LIVES?
But Mary did not just surrender, she submitted. She put her fears, needs, and her very self aside and served her God with her heart, her body, and her life. God's plans became more important that her own life plans. She chose to submit but also chose not to do so begrudgingly.
Hasn't God asked to do everything he asked Mary to do? Submission and surrender, even when it is scary, unsure, and our head tells us it will all fall apart. Surrender feels impossible in the moment. We feel like we are giving up so much, and maybe we are. But what if what we are gaining in the trade off is so. much. more???
What if the life we feel like grasping on to is such a small part of the life He desires for us? What if Mary had said "No"? Would God have punished her? Ruined her life? I don't believe so because that's not the character of the God I serve. But look at what she would have missed. Being the mother of Jesus. All the joy, so much pain but the MOM OF JESUS.
What is God asking us to surrender to this Christmas season? This year? This lifetime? Maybe in our surrender we will change the course of our lives, our family's lives, and the lives of those around us. May we surrender every moment and every day. May we surrender in the small ways and the big ways. There is peace in the surrender even in uncertainty. How can we fear the outcome when we know our lives are held in the hands of King Jesus?