Following Mary's Example


"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said."  (Luke 1:38)

It's probably because I'm a woman, but when I think of the miracle of the Savior's birth, I think a lot about Mary.  And I can't help but imagine how it must have felt to have your normal, village life turned upside down by the Almighty God in the space of a few moments, never to be the same again.

She was just a girl.  A girl in a sleepy town.  A girl with shy eyes cast upon a simple carpenter.  A girl who was known for goodness and kindness.  The kind of girl mothers hoped their daughters would be like and the kind of girl fathers advised their sons to find.

And then she was pregnant.  And everything was different, in the blink of an eye.

And she had to tell the simple carpenter.  And she had to endure his disbelief.  And even when God changed the carpenter's mind, and he came to support her, they had to bear the weight of an entire village's scorn on their own.  And she was no longer that kind of girl.  She was now "that kind of girl."

And then, just when it's time to be nesting and getting ready to hold her baby, there is a journey thrust upon them.  And the two of them, the carpenter and the girl, set off for a distant city.  There will be no familiar village midwife there.  There will be no home to rest in built by Joseph's own hands, a retreat from prying eyes.  There will be no mother there, no one to advise her in how to nurse a newborn.  It will just be the two of them.  And a baby.

And yet, when the time comes, and she holds Him in her arms, they are not alone.

The light of a star she has never seen before bathes her baby in His swaddling clothes with light.  There are the songs of angels on the air, singing a welcome to her little one.  There are shepherds, huddling in awe around the manger Joseph tried his best to clean before she laid their infant in the warmth of the hay.

And I can't help but compare her experience with mine.  When I think back fourteen years ago to the very young woman who birthed her firstborn, I remember a pregnancy filled with anxiousness, the kind that wonders if I have what it takes to be a good mother.  I remember a nervous husband who stroked my hand and cried because he could do nothing to help my pain.  I remember my hair in two braids, looking so young the nurses seemed to think I needed extra advice.  I remember desperately needing my mother in the days to follow, so grateful she was there to tell me what to do next. 

We are both humans, Mary and I.  And we birthed sons.  And we have both pondered those experiences deep within the recesses of our hearts.  But, the difference is, my son was not being born to save me.  He will not grow up to bear the weight of my sin.  I won't watch him die upon a cross.

And that, to me, is the miracle of Mary's life.  She carried the One who would make her world right again.  She birthed the One who would redeem her.

And she didn't have to.  She could have said no to the rejection, the agony, the pain of the whole experience.  It's true in doing that she would also have missed the joy that would be her reward, but she really could have played it safe when the angel came to give her the news that she had found favor in God's eyes.  I think God would have understood if she said no. 

But, she didn't.  She said yes to God.  She said yes, not knowing if Joseph would ever understand.  She said yes, not knowing how she would live, how she would provide for the Son of God.  She said yes not even understanding why God had chosen to do things this way.  She just said yes.

Mary was the only one chosen to birth the Messiah, but she is not the only one who is asked to do the impossible.  Every day, God comes to His children.  And He tells them they are favored.  And He says, "You're not going to understand it all right now, but I have a job for you."  And He waits for our answer.

"Yes, Lord.  Me, too.  Whatever you desire of me.  I say yes."