We are super excited to share today’s blog post with you because it’s written by a very special guest writer, Marsha’s daughter, Kinsee Crew! She did an amazing job teaching Luke 1:28-41 at our Women’s Christmas Celebrations and we are thrilled to share it with you too! (Don’t miss the printable to go along with this scripture Here.)
There are many times in reading scripture that I find myself feeling so inadequate in comparison to the Biblical heroes of our faith. While I know that comparison is the thief of all joy, it is still so hard not to put myself in Mary’s shoes and imagine just how differently I might have responded. Honestly, I know this because when the Lord brings an unexpected gift, trial or detour into my journey, I tend to struggle with acceptance and faith.
With this in mind, I decided to look back a little further in the chapter. Would you join me as we peek in on Mary’s journey to acceptance of this unexpected gift?
In Luke 1:28 we join Mary as she is receiving news of what is going to happen in her life. She becomes aware of the unexpected. We have all been here, the phone rings or buzzes with a text, there is a knock on the door, an email comes in…we receive information that turns our world upside down. A new reality that totally alters the direction of our lives. We lean in, eager to know how she will respond.
The answer… she is afraid! Luke 1:29 says, “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.” This woman, highly favored by God, chosen to bear the Savior of the world, was afraid. I love the sweet permission this gives us to experience whatever emotions flood over us when the unexpected avalanches of life tumble around us. The authenticity to cry out to God, to tell him our fears and admit our weakness is modeled by the mother of Jesus! And then I wonder, now what? How will God respond to this fear in Mary’s heart?
The answer is beautiful… God responds to Mary’s fear with comfort and reassurance. Gabriel does not simply make the proclamation of what will happen, he also listens to Mary and, in verse 30, responds to Mary’s concerns. “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.” We can learn from this response that, not only is it okay to ask God how He will accomplish something in our lives, it actually draws us closer to Him. And, even if His only answer is “Trust me” we can be sure that He hears us and will not leave us alone. With such assurance that the Lord is with her, now maybe Mary will show that infamous confidence and faith that we reflect upon this time of year. Let’s look at verse 34 to see.
“How will this be, Mary asked.” What?! That is not acceptance and bold confidence, that’s just another question for the Lord! I don’t know about you, but I am starting to relate to Mary a little bit more! As a chronic planner… I tend to want to know not only what the Lord is planning but when, how and with whom these plans will be accomplished. I did notice however that Mary’s question varied slightly from the one that I most often ask. You see, when the Lord brings or allows something unexpected or overwhelming into my life, my question is, “Lord, how will I deal with this?” Mary, however, asks, “How will this be?” Did you see the subtle difference? Mary isn’t relying on her own strength as I so often try to do. Mary knows her place, but even more importantly, she knows God’s place; all powerful, all seeing, all loving and all knowing. Her question isn’t one of control, but one of surrender. And in response, the Lord brings peace.
Verse 35 and 36 are, in my mind, the turning point of this conversation. “The angel answered, The Holy Spirit will come on you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” Can you feel that? The weight of the unexpected announcement of Gabriel was just lifted off of Mary’s shoulders and the gift on this experience becomes evident. Oh, how I want to live a life overshadowed by the power of the Most High, covered in His Holy Spirit. Mary’s response in verse 38 is beginning to seem feasible to me now. I think that most of us in this room can reflect on a situation in our lives, that would sound unbearable, yet in that moment, God met us in a way that we never even knew was possible. That is where Mary is now, embraced and totally loved, understood and empowered by the God that created her.
And now we see Mary’s response, “I am the Lord’s servant: Mary answered. May your word to me be fulfilled.” My friends, the journey to Bethlehem, the journey of giving birth, of raising the Son of the Most High, the journey to the cross and the resurrection, it all began with Mary’s journey to acceptance of this unexpected gift in her life. Let’s not miss the power of the journey. The work that God does, his faithfulness, love and steadfast purpose proven every step of the way. Let’s not rush it, skip over it or fail to celebrate the questions and doubts that God so willingly answers, in His way and in His perfect timing.
And finally, one of my favorite parts of the story comes in verses 39-41. “At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” What a creative and amazing tool the Lord gives to Mary. Another woman, walking a similar road, to share the journey. To gather together and talk about the greatness of God, the challenges of this life and the promises of the future. What an encouragement it is to us when we do the same. In one of my favorite little books, The Women of Christmas, it says, “If you need encouragement or a listening ear, it’s hard to beat a friend walking the same path.” I could not agree more!
We are all on a journey to accept the unexpected gifts and trials that God allows in our lives. Just as Mary journeyed to acceptance, God wants us to journey as well. He promises to respond to us just as he responded to Mary.
Fear met with comfort and questions met with peace.
And in it all we are surrounded with the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. So, during this season of our lives and throughout every part of our journeys, we can lean into the sweet fellowship of a God who loves us unconditionally and promises to walk beside us every step of the way. And, along the way, let’s not miss the priceless opportunity to share the journey with our sisters in Christ. Let’s be brave enough to trust God and with our hearts and, then, wait for the unexpected blessings that can only come from unexpected gifts.