Hello friends and hello Friday! I don’t know about you but Fridays are my favorite about now. The Christmas season is in full swing and I’m devoting my weekends to just enjoying the holidays. I hope that this post finds you cozied up on the couch, with the fireplace going, and lights twinkling on the tree. I hope you’re in a place of peace and joy. (But, for everyone who is stressed and running around with the holiday crowds, know that I feel for you! Take a deep breath and treat yourself to a nice hot drink.)
I’ve been reflecting on the Christmas story a lot lately. I’ve heard the details of Jesus’ birth and the Bethlehem story all my life. Growing up in church, this is certainly a story that is well told. But as I am reflecting this season, I’m looking at this from a different perspective. Lately, I’ve noticed the role of women in Jesus’ birth. I’ve said it before, but God values women. He affirms their worth. I love how God places each and every one of us in situations where we will flourish. I see this particularly evident in Mary’s role in Jesus’ life.
I can’t imagine being Mary in the Christmas story. I like to imagine her right before the angel comes to tell her what is about to happen. She’s young, 12-14 most likely, and is betrothed to a local carpenter, Joseph. I would guess she’s excited to be married and has all kind of dreams about her life. Having an angel show up and tell you that you’re pregnant has to be a shock. But, Mary loves the Lord. He specifically chooses her to do such an important task.
But, this is not the path she imagined for herself. God seems to do this a lot right? Maybe He doesn’t show up in our lives quite so dramatically, but He does tend to change our plans. God sees where we need to go, what opportunities will be best for us, and will glorify Him. Sometimes, those plans are not what we envisioned. I struggle with this. I struggle to trust God’s plans when they differ from my own. I tend to hold onto my plans or dreams with an iron clad grip actually. It’s scary to let go! It’s scary to trust some else’s, even God’s, decisions about our own.
Mary didn’t just face a different future than she imagined, she faced public ridicule and punishment. In ancient times, an unwed mother was not acceptable. Mary faced the possibility of death by stoning because of her pregnancy. And there was a chance Joseph wouldn’t want to marry her. That’s a lot to lose!
Mary doesn’t respond with fear or with distrust. Rather, a few months after the news she says this:
“And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
For he is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate;
He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham to his offspring forever.” Luke 1:46-55
Mary didn’t allow her plans to distract her from what God had for her. And what He had was so much better. Because of her willing obedience, she sat front row to God’s plan to redeem. She saw the love and compassion God has for His hurting people. Through Mary’s willingness to obey, Jesus was born and took the wrath reserved for us.
The lesson to be learned here is a hard one. It’s very difficult for me to release control over my future. I want to be in control. I want to know exactly where I’m going (ask me about my 5 year plan and I’ll be happy to tell you) ;). But, if Mary had held onto her plan, her dreams, she would have missed out on the amazing adventure God had in store for her.
Wherever you fall on the scale from dreaming to acting upon your plans, rest in the fact that God knows what is best. He knows much more than we ever could. Trust in that. I hope this serves as a welcome reminder to you. I know I could use it!