Despite our best efforts (or maybe because we often withhold our best efforts), we are forced to continually bob and weave, reposition, and adjust in this life. Even if all our own choices were wise (unlikely), we would still be operating in the company of other flawed humans. We all lead workaround lives.
But have you ever stopped to think about who led the ultimate workaround life?
It hit me this past Sunday during the sermon at church: it was Mary, the mother of Jesus. She could not have predicted how her one and only life on this earth would turn out because her experience was unique in all of human history. Hers was one huge workaround and yet the way she responded set a standard that bears serious reflection.
Scholars suggest that Mary was probably only 14 or 15 years old when God’s angel appeared to her. She had to be terrified. An angel??
She was barely more than a child herself, yet she was already engaged to be married. That’s just how it was in her culture: the trajectory of her life was set at a very early age. We have no reason to think she was unhappy about that. I like to imagine that she was deeply in love with her fiancé, Joseph.
The Bible doesn’t tell us what her home life was like. But based on what we do know, it seems reasonable to conclude that she was brought up in a devout home, steeped in Biblical truth, and well aware of the longing of her people for the Savior whose coming had been prophesied for centuries.
My guess is her parents – Jesus’ grandparents – were loving and faith-filled and had modeled that to their daughter consistently, so that by the time she was a teenager, she had an authentic faith of her own.
Perhaps she had prayed, like generations of Hebrew girls before her, that she would be chosen to give birth to the Savior.
Still, she must have been skeptical at first, wondering about this angelic “messenger” and the impact of what she was being asked to do.
It had to cross her mind that her life was about to take a huge detour.
But God never forces any of us to do His will, so she had a choice. She could have weighed the consequences of bearing the son of God and gone a different direction. She could have said no and resumed her predictable life. (Moses tried that.) God would not have loved her any less.
Ultimately, God left it up to her. But God knew her and He knew what He was asking. He had chosen her and she trusted Him.
Picture a trembling teenage girl standing before a resplendent Heavenly being. Luke 1:38 gives us her stunning response:
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
After she shared the news with her cousin Elizabeth, she returned home and the gospel writer records her song of praise, a beautiful passage that has become known as the “Magnificat” (Luke 1:46-55):
And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
She knew she would face hardship and heartbreak – her son would suffer and die; that had been prophesied in the Old Testament. But she had faith that God’s blessings would outweigh the pain and said yes to the workaround.
God chooses the weak to confound the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27). He delivered an eternal blessing for all mankind through Mary’s humble workaround life. Just wow.
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- I’ll take the red carnation, thank you – revisiting an odd tradition - May 2, 2016
- The surprising thing about “weakness” - April 20, 2016
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