Friday, December 20, 2013

Lessons Learned in Mary's Shoes


I confess that Mary is not one of the women in the Bible that I was dying to study or teach, and yet that is what I’ll be doing. How many times have you heard her story especially at Christmas time? You hear the same story year after year after year. People have preconceived thoughts and ideas about Mary; some of which are not biblically based. While my blogs are biblically based, they are not the Word of God unless in italic. I study customs and traditions. I consider what people might have heard and thought and felt by putting myself into their sandals, so my perspective is colored by the life I’ve walked. But it is my goal that as I sit down, praying for wisdom, that God reveals a little something for me to chew on, something new and fresh. So, let’s dive into the lessons I learned while wearing Mary’s sandals.

Mary is old enough to be betrothed, so people estimate her age anywhere from 15-17 years of age. Girls back then didn’t go to school. They learned life skills at the hands and feet of their mothers and grandmothers. These skills would be needed to run their own homes, and these lessons would have started when they were quite young. For Mary to stand out above the rest of the girls her age in order to find favor with God, He must have seen something special about her. But then again, He did create her, and He created her for this life. God’s name, El Roi, the God who sees, was given by Hagar another poor pregnant woman who had run away from Abram and Sarai. When it seems like the choices you make are inconsequential, think again. God is watching. Does your behavior, attitude and actions give God a reason to find favor in you? He created you for your life. Are you living up to the potential that He created in you?

Then the angel appears. After 500 years of no communication from God, Mary is the second person to receive a personal visit from an angel of God. How significant is that!? A poor, humble, young virgin visits with an angel before the head of the priests, before leaders in government, before her fiancé. I would have to think the fact that the angel called her by name had to be as alarming as it was comforting. She does not doubt what the angel says, but can you imagine how difficult it was to process? I love the fact that Luke chronicles the fact that Mary does try to process what she’s hearing. And even when she can’t completely understand everything, she says, Let it be as you have said.  How often has God attempted to communicate to you or lead you in a different direction just for you to balk or go the other way because it is comfortable or a known path? Have you ever just trusted God and followed allowing the chips fall where God allows? That’s what Mary did at 15 to 17 years of age. It may be one of the reasons she was chosen for this role in history.

I also notice the things God didn’t say. God knew not to give Mary all the details of the big picture because had she known how cruelly Jesus would have died, she might not have enjoyed his babyhood, childhood, or teen years. She wouldn’t live the life of being Jesus’s mom or a mom to her other children. He also doesn’t explain about the kingdom that Jesus will rule, when that will be or what it will look like. He doesn’t tell her all the things to come because it would simply be too difficult to understand and appreciate and it would be so overwhelming. Instead, God shoulders that responsibility and gives Mary just enough to make her way for the day, for the moment, knowing she will trust Him for the rest.

When I thought about the Holy Spirit hovering over her, my mind went to Zephaniah 3:17, and how God sings over us with rejoicing. I wondered if she heard God rejoicing because if there was ever a time for rejoicing, this would be the time. How awesome that experience must have been for Mary! It’s not the first time in Scripture that the Spirit hovered. If this peaks your interest, it would be a great study.

At some point, Mary has to tell her family about the messenger. We don’t know if she tells them about the angel or of a messenger. Either way, we know that she leaves shortly thereafter to go and visit Elizabeth. Most likely she would have needed a letter from her father or male relative to travel abroad without chaperone. I find it highly unlikely that Mary would have done a lot of traveling by herself prior to this excursion. She would have had to spend the night along the road or in an inn. It could have been a frightful time if she didn’t believe what God had set into motion. She had to know that God would protect her and her unborn baby at all costs.

Mary enters Elizabeth’s home and greets her. Elizabeth is about 6 months pregnant and is full of the Holy Spirit as is her baby, John, who leaps. I wonder if Mary’s voice is the first voice that John heard while in the womb. Either way, he was already testifying to the existence of a Savior while in the womb. Elizabeth’s greeting to Mary confirmed what the angel had told Mary. I love to see women encouraging women, affirming one another. Elizabeth was not jealous. She was thankful for her own blessing. She didn’t need to covet Mary’s. Elizabeth’s greeting is met with Mary’s Magnificat. You can see how she worships the Lord. You can see her heart. She is overwhelmed by the idea that generations to come will know of her and call her blessed. When something amazing happens to you or on your behalf, what is the first thing that you do? Do you give God the glory?

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