This time of year I always think about Mary. For us the Christmas story is filled with wonder and joy, but I often think of how Mary arrived at the fulfillment of God’s promise.
She was a young girl, engaged to be married, and, no doubt, preparing as all brides do for her wedding day. Then one day an angel appeared to her. Now that in itself would shake up most of us. The angel greeted her with words of honor and prophecy, “Hail, Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with you.” The Message says that Mary “was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that.” I guess.
As the angel explained God’s plan to her, she must have been shaken even more. What an awesome call God had placed on her life! Not only was she going to carry the Messiah, but she was going to do it as an unwed mother. Under Jewish law, she could be stoned for sexual immorality. Would Joseph understand? How could she tell him that an angel had visited her and that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit? Who was going to buy that?
And yet in the midst of what had to be a flood of questions and anxious thoughts, Mary willingly accepted God’s plan for her life and replied, “Be it done unto me according to your will.”
And the worst happened. Joseph thought she had been sexually involved with someone else and decided to quietly divorce her to prevent a scandal. The man she loved and had planned to spend her life with rejected her and thought the worst of her.
No doubt others who knew her well, her family and her friends, must have thought the same about her. Shame and disgrace followed her everywhere. And yet she served the Lord and carried the child He had given her. She must have prayed a good deal and begun each day trusting that God would carry her through because all the time she knew that it was being done unto her according to His will.
An angel visited Joseph in a dream and told him the truth about Mary and her baby. What a joy it must have been for her to have the man she loved believe her and trust her again! They were married and Mary must have thought the worst was over. Now everything would settle into a normal routine and before she knew it, her little baby would be born.
But that was not to be. We all know the story of how Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem to register just before the baby was to be born. Long days of travel on hot dusty roads must have been very hard on a pregnant woman. Car travel is hard enough during pregnancy. Can you imagine riding a donkey? Many times during that trip she must have said again and again, “Be it done unto me according to your will.”
And then, just when she thought they had arrived in town and she would be able to rest in a nice, warm bed for the night, there was no room for them in the inn. Now in labor, she must have wondered what God had planned. Was she going to deliver her baby in the street? The manger, although probably the last place she wanted to give birth, had to have seemed like a welcome place compared to the alternative.
And there in that manger, amidst the animals and all that accompanies them, she gave birth to the Messiah, the Savior. How she must have wondered what God’s plan was to have His Son born in such a strange place. By then, though, I think Mary must have been understanding better and better that when she surrendered her life into God’s hands, He had a plan that He would work out, even if it didn’t make sense to her.
I think that’s why I relate to Mary so well. She set such good example for us all. We need to surrender our lives in the same way she did We each need to say, “Be it done unto me according to your will.” And then we need to stop fighting God at every twist and turn when we do not understand. Circumstances may look absolutely helpless and painful. Those around us may not understand. We may walk in shame and the contempt of others. And yet, through it all, God has a plan. When it makes no sense, He is still at work.
This Christmas may Mary’s example be an encouragement to you. She walked in faith and trust through the worst of circumstances because she had chosen to obey God. She didn’t know how the story ended. She only knew that God had made a promise to her and that He is faithful. For her, that was enough.
I pray you have a wonderful Christmas, filled with love, joy, and peace and that the New Year brings you into an even deeper walk with the Lord. Love, Marilyn
“And [the shepherds] came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered in her heart.” Luke 2:16-19