December 11, 2013
Blessed is She Who…
'I am the Lord's servant,' Mary answered. 'May it be to me as you have said' (Luke 1:38, NIV)
Friend to Friend
Sometimes it is easy to read the Bible and forget that the women in the stories are just like you and me. Of course, they lived during a different time in history, practiced different customs, and ate different foods. But they had the same heart struggles, same soul longings, and same emotional ups and downs as you and me.
Today, I want you to use your imagination just a bit. Sit back and let me tell you a story. A story about a young girl named Mary, and the amazing news she received. Let's join her on her way to Bethlehem…
Traveling down the dusty road to Bethlehem on the lumpy corrugated backbone of a donkey was hard enough. But being jostled along nine months pregnant was an arduous task accompanied by troublesome shoots of pain. The two blankets Joseph had placed over the hairy beast did little to cushion the jarring rough ride for his young bride and mother-to-be.
"How are you faring," a concerned Joseph asked.
"I just hope this baby is more comfortable than I am," Mary breathed. "I don't think he's going to wait much longer to make his grand debut."
Mary's eyes smiled as she thought about the child nestled in her womb. Who would have ever thought the Savior of the World would spend his last few moments before entering the world riding on the back of a donkey? Who would have ever thought the Messiah would be born to such as me?
Mary's thoughts went back to the day the angel Gabriel appeared to her and announced God's redemptive plan.
"Mary," her mother called. "Are you finished with kneading? Don't forget to milk the goat. And then there's the spindle with the robe half finished. It's seems our work is never done!"
At fifteen, Mary had a full schedule of daily activities simply keeping the home running smoothly. But soon enough, it would no longer be her father's house she served, but her husband's. The marriage had been arranged since she was a child, but that did not diminish the romantic notions of being swept away in the middle of the night by her handsome groom. Their engagement was a legally binding contract and all that remained were the technicalities—the actual wedding celebration.
If all goes well, she mused, I will be married to Joseph, the carpenter, within a year's time. But then, what could go wrong? The contract has been signed, the bride price has been paid, and the huppah, the room connected to his father's house, is almost complete.
As the young maiden continued daydreaming about her new life to come, a golden presence filled the room. The hair on the back of her neck prickled as a gentle breeze brushed past her cheek. The window remained fastened while indescribable stirring filled the room. Looking up from her work, she was startled by the glowing figure standing before her.
A single gasp filled her lungs as Mary clasped her hand over her mouth. Wide eyes tried to make sense of the vision before her. Was it a man? A ghost? An angel? Was she dreaming?
"Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
Seeing her pale before him, the angel Gabriel continued, "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."
Mary's fear did not subside with this confusing proclamation. Yet there was something comforting in the tone of this being's voice. While her soul began a calm descent, her mind began to race ahead.
A son? Pregnant? Jesus? Son of the Most High? A jumble of thoughts spilled out all at once as she tried to piece together the information lying like scattered puzzle pieces before her.
"How can this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"
Gabriel leaned in and held Mary's gaze. "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."
Sensing her bewildered and troubled heart, the messenger knew she needed a bit more assurance. Perhaps she needed a friend. He leaned back and casually remarked, "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."
With that reminder of God's omnipotent power, Mary embraced her calling. "May it be to me as you have said."
Then, just as quickly and quietly as he had appeared, the angel was gone.
Mary stood alone in the room trying to take in all that had happened. Questions buzzed in her mind like a swarm of bees. I've got to get to Elizabeth, Mary whispered.
Right away, Mary packed her things and began her sixty-mile journey from Nazareth to Judea. After several days, she arrived.
As soon as Mary entered the room, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and began prophesying. In a loud voice she proclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!"
Heavenly Father, when I think about how little Mary must have felt, my heart swells. Her willingness to be Your servant, her faith to believe the angel, and her trust that You would accomplish what You had planned stirs me to do the same. Lord, I am willing to do whatever You have for me to do. I have faith that nothing is impossible for You. I trust that You will always do what is best for me. May it be said of me, "Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished."
In Jesus' Name,
Now It's Your Turn
As you read this retelling of Mary receiving the news from Gabriel, did God stir something new in your heart?
Did you notice that Elizabeth prophesied over Mary? Yes, she was the first to prophesy in the New Testament. Amazing! A woman!
Here's what I would love for you today. Put your name in the blank. "Blessed is _______ who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished." Write it. Say it. Believe it. Then click over to my Facebook page and copy the sentence with YOUR name in it. I can hardly wait to read it!
More from the Girlfriends
Today's devotion was taken from my book, What God Really Thinks about Women: Finding Your Significance Through the Women Jesus Encountered. This book goes through every encounter Jesus had with a woman in the New Testament, and shows how he broke a rule every time, just to show them they mattered…to show you that you matter. He risked his reputation to save theirs. Read their encounters and see yourself through Jesus' eyes.
And just in time to start the New Year off right, my book Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toe: A Daily Guide to Scripture-Based Prayer is now available. Click on the title to watch a video or read a sample chapter.
Click here to find out more about
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Girlfriends in God
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