Thursday, December 22, 2016
Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him. His mighty arm has done tremendous things! He has scattered the proud and haughty ones. He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands. He has helped his servant Israel and remembered to be merciful. For he made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children forever.” Luke 1:46-55(NLT)
This story has Hallmark made-for-TV-movie written all over it! An angel suddenly appears to a young teen and tells her “you’re pregnant, and, by the way, God did it”. The teen is so frightened she runs off to seek comfort from her favorite aunt, and the meeting turns into a crescendo of praise for God that’s like a choreographed flash mob. Mary’s song would make the Sound of Music’s Maria and the Von Trapp family singers proud! Let’s unpack the story:
An Unexpected Visit
The angel’s greeting gets this story off to a strange start. He calls her favored. My friend Julie always answers this way. I ask, “How are you doing today?” She says, “Blessed and highly favored”! Well, it sure didn’t seem so to Mary; she reacted in two very conflicting ways – fear and faith.
Mary’s fear was understandable; she was only twelve or thirteen, and this was very confusing news. Her future was planned by her parents to be married to Joseph; she’s told she’s pregnant. What in the world will she tell Joseph? Joseph won’t understand this. And what about her Dad? Oh man, my dad’s gonna kill me!
She has questions for Mr. Angel…hey, this isn’t fair! Life is tough enough when you’re a kid – why me, God?
But then Mary’s faith surfaced and she resolutely accepted what the angel told her. She states the obvious, that she is the servant of God. The KJV has the word handmaid; actually the word is doulē (δούλη), and is better translated “female slave”. Mary committed herself to serve God without regard to her own will; she would be a slave, surrendered in faith!
What do we learn from Mary’s fear and faith? Fear means you’re looking at the short term difficulties of circumstances. Mary knew it could be a hard road ahead with this unexplained pregnancy on her resume’. But faith drives you to make the first step of obedience to honor God, in spite of the circumstances.
You’ve done that. When your parents helped you learn to walk you had to trust them enough take a first step. It was a small step, and you were probably scared, hesitant; this was new. You may have fallen – but you learned, and it became natural for you!
Abraham did that. When God called him to leave his home place to take his little family on a journey where God would lead, he took the hardest step of obedience – the first one.
When God chooses you it’s liable to mean small, fearful beginnings and a blind step of faith, but if it leads to the land of God’s blessing, be the slave of the Lord! He “highly favors” you!