Lessons from Mary
Today the number of teen pregnancies and unwed mothers is high. In fact, it has become so commonplace that little is thought of it anymore. Not so 200 years ago. A woman found to be pregnant out of marriage could be stoned to death or at the very least cut off from the Israelite people. Mary risked the wrath of her family and community- but I don’t think that ever crossed her mind when the angel appeared to her. She was more focused on pleasing a Lord than on people- what a wonderful lesson for us today!
I love the way she placed her future in the hands of God. Other than being curious about how things would happen, she didn’t question or doubt. She trusted God. She had faith in God. If you haven’t seen the movie “The Nativity”, I would strongly recommend it. The movie gives us a good idea of what Mary may have dealt with from her family and neighbors- the cold shoulders, the whispers behind her back, parents that doubted her story. Yet she never returned to God to tell him she changed her mind. She knew her purpose- her calling and she kept moving forward regardless of the reactions of those around her. I love her response to Gabriel-
“I am the Lord’s servant’, Mary answered. ‘May it be to me as you have said”- Luke 1:38
When we feel call God calling or leading us in a direction, what is our response? Do we answer like Mary did? If we back up a few verses, we see that God knew Mary’s heart-
“Mary, you have found favor with God.” Luke 1:30
O, how I long to hear God speak those words of me. I want to find favor with God (i.e., I want to be pleasing to God.) So what did Mary do to find favor? As said before, she was more interested in doing God’s will than in pleasing this world. Can we say that? Do we freely worship God in church or are we afraid of what others will think of us? Do we take a stand for God in workplaces that are ungodly or do we fear the ridicule of coworkers? Do we share the good news with unsaved family members or do we fear the title of religious fanatic? I’m afraid this young girl of maybe 15 shows us all up. Her strong faith, heart for God, and fearless stand show us what God saw in this young peasant girl.
Maybe she didn’t think about how difficult her journey would be at the time but later as it sank in, she never faltered. In the days leading up to the birth of Jesus, she had no time to rest up and prepare the baby’s room. No, instead she spent it on the back of a donkey (most likely) traveling about 80 miles from Galilee to Bethlehem. I’ve born 3 children and let me tell you, nothing is comfortable the last few days so I can’t imagine spending them on a donkey. No, the path she followed would not be easy. Just days after Jesus’ birth, Mary and Joseph went to the temple to present him to the Lord and they encountered Simeon. After he spoke over the baby, he turned to Mary and spoke to her of the child then told her-
“And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” – Luke 2:35
About 33 years later, she would watch helplessly in this same town of Jerusalem as her baby boy was beaten and crucified thus fulfilling Simeon’s words. So, no, her path wasn’t easy but she finished the course by leaning on God for help and in doing so played a part in changing the world forever. When I think of missionaries of the past- Lottie Moon, Hudson Taylor, and others, I remember that their paths weren’t easy either but they changed the world through their dedication to God. So what is God calling us to do today? It may not be an easy route but it will be blessed. Let’s follow Mary’s example and speak her words to God-
“I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”