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Most of us feel we know all know about Mary – right? Mary was a simple young woman. She was unflappable about the rigors of a long journey on foot and the back of an animal while almost nine months pregnant, serenely accepted childbirth in a stable, and almost always wore blue. At least that is the surface picture we often have of Mary.
But, of course, Mary was a real person, with real feelings, and real needs.
First, let’s consider how very much that journey and that birth would have affected Mary. Let’s imagine for a moment what it would have been like to jostle along miles of bumpy roads on the back of a beast of burden, arrive in a strange town to find there was no proper place to stay, and then go through the reality of a painful first birth in a barn. After which, there is no place to take a shower and change clothes, no truly clean place to put your baby down, and no bed in which to sleep. Then there were the animals and all their accompanying smells. A barn is just simply a dirty place at any time, let alone as a place to give birth to a child.
Certainly not the pristine hospital bed with doctors and nurses in attendance that is standard for most women today.
Then, a multitude of shepherds came knocking at the door!
Second, let’s consider this young woman that God chose to bear His son. The angel Gabriel told Mary she was “highly favored.” Elizabeth told Mary she was “blessed among women.” God’s choice of Mary as Jesus’ mother was not just happenstance. At the very exact moment in history when He was ready, God specifically reached across the ages and singled out Mary from among all the young women of her generation. He knew Mary’s heart, knew her unshakable faith, and knew her ability to rely on Him for strength would carry her through the tremendous trials incumbent in the task of being the mother of Jesus.
Luke’s account of Mary’s Magnificat or song is unbelievably beautiful and provides very specific clues into Mary’s character. It is one of my very favorite Biblical passage, especially written in the old English style:
Luke 1: 46-49 - And Mary said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.”
Mary then continues on with praises for God’s mercy, power, strength, goodness, and direct participation in the affairs of His children.
Lastly, let’s consider what Mary can teach us about our Christian walk today. What is our reaction when God requests that we traverse a difficult path with Him? It is most human to be fearful, feel concern, question the circumstances, and experience feelings of inadequacy.
Luke’s account tells us that Mary felt all of those things and probably much more. But, she made a choice to trust when Gabriel told her “the Lord is with thee.” At that point, Mary chose to yield to God’s plan for her life by responding to Gabriel saying, “be it unto me according to thy word.”
From that moment forward, Mary became the vessel that God used to bring His son into the world ~~ and that event eventually provided our salvation.
I don’t imagine that Mary could truly foresee all the joys and sorrows that were before her when she yielded her life to God’s control, she simply trusted and then obeyed. As a result, she has been known throughout the generations as the mother of Jesus, leaving us a powerful example of how to graciously and willingly yield to God’s plans for our lives.
~Deborah Kaye McDade~
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