Mary – The Right Kind of Attitude

This Christmas season is like most for me. I feel rushed and out of time and energy to do all that I want to do. Visions of being “ready”, whatever that is, dance in my head. As it is, the Christmas tree is in a corner with nothing on it and no gifts anywhere. I have a week… a week…oy! Are you feeling the pressure too? I stop because when I think of Mary and her willingness to serve God as the mother of Jesus, then what I face cannot be considered worthy of being called pressure. Sometimes it’s easy to forget when reading the accounts of a Bible story that there really was so much more going on than the facts that were recorded. Sort of like reading a newspaper account of an event and forgetting the lives and drama of how the whole thing played out.

Mary is encouraging and challenging to me. Encouraging because she is simple and humble. Challenging because she was willing to give up her dreams of a “normal” life for something extraordinary. So extraordinary that she couldn’t possibly comprehend, and it was going to cost more than she ever anticipated.

The angel, Gabriel, shows up on Mary’s doorstep one day and announces God’s plan. Whoa! Just that would be a lot to take in at first. Have you ever had God “show up” in your day? Forget whatever plans you had because your world is about to change. I love it that she is called favored and is told that, “The Lord is with you.” Those are going to be the most important words for the rest of her life. She’s obviously taken back and can’t understand what this really means. A glowing stranger would distress me too.  As she listens to Gabriel’s announcement and what this is going to mean for all of mankind, I’m sure she is reeling. Wow!! One small detail seems to be left out – no man. Well, Joseph is in the picture at this point but that isn’t the plan. I don’t know about you, but I put the brakes on when the details of the plan don’t make sense. I am afraid I would’ve had a “Yeah, right,” answer like Zechariah did previously when John’s birth was announced by Gabriel; doubting and not faith-filled. I marvel at

Mary’s answer! “I am the Lord’s slave. May it be done to me according to your word.” I’m floored honestly. I don’ t care how much of the Bible you know at any given point in your life but if it doesn’t produce that kind of faith, what value is it? (I say this to myself more than all others.) That whole slave idea isn’t popular either because it means you don’t get to call the shots and do what you want to do.

It’s not a comfortable life, in fact, the opposite. It means suffering and sacrifice. And Mary didn’t say, “Can I have a day or so to think about this?” Notice that God’s plan was going “to be done to her.” She was just willing. I have such a long way to go!!

Whatever Mary’s life had been up to that point, it would never be that again. Here’s some things Mary probably would tell us all. Saying “Yes” to God means saying “No” to a lot of other things. It may mean bringing difficulty into your life and those around you. It’s one thing for you to say, “God has this great plan, and this is how I’m a part of it,” but when others who didn’t hear God are left trying to explain what this means, it’s hard. God’s ways are not our ways, and no matter how hard we try, we can’t necessarily explain them to others. Walking with God is humbling, and it will often feel humiliating. Mary, Joseph and her family were probably the subject of a lot of gossip around town. “Shameful what she’s done!” “I thought she was such a good girl!” “Her parents raised her better than that! So disappointing!” I can hear it now among all the righteous, God-fearing folk. Her parents are embarrassed. “Mary, don’t lie to us. That’s not how this works! Joseph said he’s not the dad so who have you been messing around with?” Neighbors look away and scurry off because they don’t want to talk about such things. Mary had to be so lonely. Joseph was struggling to understand. The whole world seems to be crumbling down around her… that’s pressure! While Nazareth was in meltdown mode, God’s plan was totally secure. I need to always remember that.

Luke 1:46-55 (Mary’s Praise – Holman CSV) – “And Mary said:

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, because He has looked with favor

on the humble condition of His slave. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed,

because the Mighty One

has done great things for me, and His name is holy.

His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear Him.

He has done a mighty deed with His arm;

He has scattered the proud

because of the thoughts of their hearts;

He has toppled the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly.

He has satisfied the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty.

He has helped His servant Israel, mindful of His mercy,

just as He spoke to our ancestors,

to Abraham and his descendants forever.”

What an example to follow… Merry Christmas!