Advent on the Blog: Mary
Ever had the Lord ask you to trust Him for something far beyond your understanding and capacity?
The Christmas story is full of stories of people…ordinary people like you and me…who were suddenly invited into an impossible situation. Impossible…from a human perspective. But…HIMpossible when you see through God’s eyes and trust His heart.
This week we’ll look at the stories of two people at the center of the Christmas story…both learned what it means to trust God for the HIMpossible. These stories come from our book, Christmas Hearts, which is written based on the Christmas story from Matthew and Luke.
What seems impossible to you today? Be encouraged again by Mary and Joseph…and know that when we trust the Lord, all things are HIMpossible!
"Made For A Miracle"
She walked along the path toward home, a water jar balanced on her head. Even though the weight of the clay jar full of water was quite heavy for a young woman scarcely into her teen years, she felt as if she was walking on air. Her heart was singing, and it seemed as though the earth, sky, and birds were singing with her.
Mary was in love.
More than that, she was betrothed to be married to the handsome carpenter Joseph. So binding was the betrothal that if Joseph should die before their marriage, she would be legally his widow. Their covenant to be married could not be broken without going through a divorce. They were married in the legal though not the physical sense. Soon...soon! would come the wedding feast. Joseph would arrive with his kinfolk up the path to her home, as was the custom in every wedding. Knocking joyfully on the door, He would call for his bride. Their rabbi would bless them and lead them through the joining ceremony. After much celebration, eating, and well wishing, the newly married couple would enter the bridal chamber. Then they could be fully married.
Married! Her Joseph was not a rich man, but there was about him the priceless quality of a sturdy, righteous character. He was a solid, yet tender man. Joseph may have been a carpenter, but the royal blood of the line of David flowed through his veins, as it did in hers. Joseph was a student of the Scriptures with an awe for God unfortunately uncommon in young men. He was barely into his twenties himself, yet considered almost old to be getting married. Life was hard in the hills of Palestine. Life expectancy was not long, so it was both normal and necessary to begin families early.
Yet he waited for Mary to mature, for he loved Mary deeply. They carried in their hearts the precious knowledge that they were both pure. They kept themselves pure, awaiting the time when they
could enjoy God's special gift to a husband and wife with His blessing and approval. There had been opportunities to sin sexually, but they both knew that waiting was far better than a stolen moment that could be regretted for a lifetime. Somehow, although she couldn't really understand it, she carried a deep sense of God's hand on her life. She was made for a special purpose. Because of that heart sense, she refused to make a shambles of God's purpose even when her emotions urged her body to do what came naturally. The waiting would be worth it. Her decision to stay pure was far more important than she could have ever dared to dream.
Lost in her thoughts of joyful anticipation, she looked up a bit surprised to find that she was home. "Dreaming again," she said, smiling to herself.
Her mother teasingly accused her of doing that a lot lately. But... she was in love, and a heart overcrowded by love had a tendency to lose sight of other things. Just a few more short months, and she would be the wife of Joseph!
Entering the house, she saw her mother Hannah preparing the evening meal. Her responsibilities were growing as the oldest of the children. She was even more conscious she needed to learn from her mother the important things of running a household. It wouldn't be long before she would be responsible for her own.
Her father Joachim’s cheery voice shouted a greeting from a distance as he returned from the fields after a long day of work. Mary followed as the rest of the children ran out to meet him, and he caught up the youngest, hoisting him on his shoulder while the rest walked beside.
As he approached his home, Mary met him on the path and slipped her hand in his in welcome. His eyes looked at her softly, full of a father's love. Not long ago...it had seemed like yesterday! she
had been the one happily riding on his shoulder. Now, here she was a woman soon to be married. His heart had the sweet pang of pain with the thought of no longer having her under his roof. Yet, he would be welcoming a good man into his family with Joseph as a son-in-law. Father and children chatted about the events of the day, and then gathered around the table to bless and eat their food. They were not a rich family, but one wealthy in love.
Thus went the evening in the home of Joachim. Lamplight shone from their windows, like hundreds of other homes in the hills of Galilee. Nothing special marked their home from any other…yet in Heaven, this home was to be the place of the greatest miracle in human history.
As she often did, Mary walked up by herself onto the flat roof of the house to sit and watch the stars. The younger children were in bed, so she could enjoy these few moments alone. Stars glittered like diamonds against the black background of the spring sky, beautiful to her admiring gaze.
"And to think that God knows each of them by name," she thought.
Just last Sabbath, their Rabbi had read the passage from one of the prophets. She watched the stars in silent wonder, even more awed by the God who had created them. Could a God that powerful, that wise, that infinite, care about her? She was just one insignificant person in the middle of this vast universe. Did He really have a special plan for her, or was she just fooling herself?
From behind her, there was a sudden glow, unlike any light she had seen. Turning quickly to see where the light was coming from, she saw it radiated from a tall man standing a few feet from her. A glow surrounded him, but the light and the smile on his face was soft and warm. Strangely, she did not feel afraid. She sensed she was in the presence of an angel, though she had never seen one before.
He raised his hand in a familiar gesture of welcome.
"Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." His voice was deep, his tone friendly, yet there was respect behind his words.
Respect...from an angel? The thought troubled and overwhelmed her. What could such a greeting mean? Why was she highly favored? What did he mean that God was with her?
The angel smiled and spoke again as if to answer her question and ease her perplexity.
"Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name JESUS. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of his father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, His Kingdom will never end."
His words were so unexpected she did not know what to say. These were the words every woman of Israel longed to hear...and she was hearing them! The angel spoke with such certainty...how was God going to make such a miracle possible? "How will this happen, since I am a virgin?" asked Mary. Her words carried not the tone of unbelief, but of trusting curiosity. She was not only hearing the words, but also receiving them in simple faith in her heart.
"The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God."
For a moment time stood still. She soaked in the incredible significance of the angelic words. Every woman dreamed of being the mother of the Messiah. Every family prayed that their daughter might have the divine honor of bearing the Christ child. Now God had appointed her! She was not
worthy! She was no one special…yet God chose her! Mary’s heart melted with wonder by the grace of God.
Then her thoughts sped to Joseph. How could she explain it to him? How could he understand this? It would seem that she had been unfaithful to him. What would her parents say? What of the wagging tongues in the village? The penalty for adultery, and that was surely what they would accuse her of, was death by stoning. Saying yes to God could cost her everything...her husband, her family, her reputation, her life.
Her mind weighed all these factors, and then her heart told her this was what God had designed her for all along. Nothing could compare with what God had planned for her. No price would be too much to pay.
In an act of complete yielding, she knelt and said, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said."
She placed herself, like a servant girl, completely in God’s hands, willing and ready to do whatever He wanted of her. Hers was the servant heart God had been looking for.
With a bright smile of acknowledgment, the angel nodded to her, and then was gone.
And so the greatest miracle of all began. Mary, the young, poor girl from the hills of Galilee, was overshadowed by the Glory of the Holy Spirit. God’s Messiah was conceived in her womb. A virgin was pregnant with the Holy Child. God the Son clothed Himself with human flesh, wrapped in the heart and womb of Mary.
There would be more miracles. God would also send Gabriel to visit to Joseph, assuring him that Mary's story was indeed true, and not to be afraid to take her as wife. His commitment to stay pure would continue until the birth of Jesus.
There was the miracle of understanding by her parents, although it did not come immediately.
There was the miracle of Elizabeth's pregnancy, and the precious months spent together in the household of Zechariah. She would never forget the flow of Holy Spirit inspired words