Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mary's Heart of Faith—an Example for All of Us

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!"

But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give 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."

Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?"

And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible."

Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her. –Luke 1:26-38

Keisha Castle-Hughes as MaryAs you look at the story of Jesus' miraculous entry into our world as a baby, you can't help focusing on the incredible way God introduced Himself to a teenage girl, radically shaking up her paradigm—and all of mankind's—forever after. (Photo: Keisha Castle-Hughes/The Nativity Story-IMDB)

When I look at Mary portrayed in the pages of the Bible, and especially in this passage of Luke, I can't help but notice some familiar, and then amazing qualities of this young woman, which speak to all of us.

Here was a teenage girl, of the lineage of David, and the tribe of Judah. Great ancestry, yes, but, what is so inspiring to me is Mary's simple, yet solid trust and faith in God, even when she didn't understand the whole scope of His plan.

An ordinary day suddenly became extraordinary when her routine was interrupted by the visit of the angel, Gabriel. Having been sent by God with the news that would forever change the course of history, Gabriel greets Mary accordingly, calling her "highly favored," "blessed among women," and that "the Lord is with" her.

Understandably, she is taken aback and troubled by his words to her—trying to figure out what this greeting could possibly mean. (Of course, the fact that AN ANGEL was standing in front of her was probably unnerving at the very least—Daniel had another reaction, but I digress)

Gabriel goes on to explain God's plan to bring the long awaited Messiah to the world. I can imagine that it must have been hard for Mary to hear anything the angel said, past the part about her conceiving and "bringing forth a son"!

When the Heavenly messenger takes a breath, it was the first thing—and the only thing—that Mary questions him about.

"How can this be?" she asks, "since I do not know a man?"

Now, earlier in the chapter, Zacharias received a little visit from Gabriel as well. When told about his own coming miraculous event, he poses a similar question to the angel. Why is it that his question brought him rebuke and discipline, while Mary's did not?

The angel rebuked Zacharias for his unbelief. After all, his scenario had happened before—with Abraham and Sarah. And he was a priest; of all people, he should've responded in faith.

Mary, on the other hand, had a very legitimate question, and she was not chastened for unbelief. In fact, after Gabriel explains what will happen to Mary, she responds with a heart of obedience, surrender, humility and trust…

"Behold the hand-maiden of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to Your Word," she said.

This young woman rose to God's occasion for her and chose to embrace His plan in FAITH, though she didn't comprehend it all.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm frequently mystified by what God seems to be doing at various times in my life. But, I—and all of us—are given the opportunity to embrace it in faith, trusting the benevolent love of the God that we've come to know.

These are precarious times—financially, emotionally, and in many other ways. But, the Apostle John reminds us in 1 John 5:4, "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—OUR FAITH." (emphasis mine)

It was Mary's example, and it still holds true for each of us some 2,000+ years later; that solid, simple trust in God—faith.

1 comment:

Jill Dix said...

We were just discussing Mary over the dinner table with our 15 year old son. Mary was probably only 14 years old which is only one year younger than our son. It is hard to imagine being chosen to carry the Son Of God at that age. Her reply to the angel was Be it unto me according to your word. My son made the comment that she could have said No and yes I guess she certainly could have and then it is hard to imagine where we would be if she had chosen that route. I guess God would have had to choose someone else but I do assume that he did choose Mary because He knew that she would say yes and He knew her heart.