Live Like Mary
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
Luke 1:28 “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words. 30 “Do not be afraid.” 34 “How will this be?” 37 “Nothing is impossible with God.” 38 “I am the Lord’s servant.”
Was that the end of the questioning? Did it become easy once she accepted the call? No, she hurried to seek counsel with her old cousin, Elizabeth. She wanted proof. She got curious. She wanted to see the truth. She got what she was looking for, and she was in awe and wonder. Hence the Magnificat.
Luke 1:47-48 “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.”
She found joy, she praised God, and she prayed continually.
She had to have kept praying! Joseph was ready to divorce her quietly, to cast her aside. This wasn’t the future they or their families had planned for. But Mary accepted the call.
As her body grew and changed, she stayed with Elizabeth for a while. She knew she accepted the call as the mother of the Son of God, but did she know the challenges that would come?
She and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem with a very full belly. This was not an easy journey. Maybe she wanted to turn back. Maybe her birth plan had midwives ready to assist in Nazareth. Did she wrestle with the calling? Did she ask, “How can this be,” like with Gabriel? Was she tired, heavy, thirsty? Ready to lie down and rest? Ready to meet this babe growing inside of her that completely uprooted her life in ways she could never have conceived?
Luke 2:6-7 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them at the inn.
I wonder about that journey. How many others traveled the road to Bethlehem? The young couple was moving slower than most. Did anyone stop to help them? To provide food, water, rest? Or did they see outcasts? The pregnant out of wedlock? Is that why there was no room at the inn? Because religious standards put a scarlet letter on them?
How would I have reacted? Despair? Holding on to hope, but wondering, Why me? This isn’t what I had in mind! In the stable, wishing my mom was with me. I had midwives, now I have a goat and a carpenter who knows nothing about birth.
The one constant she had though: God’s promise. A hope. In that she must have held on to joy. To know that this inconceivable call had a purpose. To pray continually. To give thanks in all circumstances. She kept her whole spirit, soul, and body blameless at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, because the one who called her is faithful to do it.
And so it is with us. What call did you accept? Did you know the challenges you would face? Do you wonder how what you’re walking through can turn out? Mary wondered too. And she looked into the face of God and saw the truth.
It seemed the holy family simultaneously slipped into oblivion in a lonely stable while the heavens rejoiced in their humility, in their obedience. God sent the outcasts, the shepherds, rejoicing. They knew more about birth than Joseph. I imagine they helped as midwives would after the birth.
And then they continued in obedience! Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem to offer their poor sacrifice and dedicate Jesus to the Lord. This couple, who was forced to travel due to the Roman empire, were forced to give birth in a barn, and yet still they prayed and kept the faith! Spirit, soul, body: blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It would seem they did everything right. And then the wise men show up. Their questions alert King Herod of a new king in town which sparks an infant genocide. It had to have been hard to find joy in those circumstances as they fled in exile to Egypt. They have really learned to live by faith at this point. They are obedient. I imagine there is a lot of prayer in their lives.
“God, we trust you. We know you have good plans for us, but this doesn’t feel good. Stop the pain, the suffering. Take it all. We trust in your goodness. Your promises never fail. Strengthen us as we await your coming. Keep our spirit, soul, bodies, holy unto you.”
The calling was never meant to be easy. Years later Jesus would let his earthly parents know that he does not belong to them as he sat in the temple courts with the teachers. It would be a constant balance of loving their son, and allowing him to do the will of his Father.
No, this wasn’t what Mary had in mind when she said she would be God’s servant. But how many of our calls have turned out easy? How could we have expected the challenges we would face? If we had known, would we have even accepted the call?
And so we must live like Mary, finding joy along the way, giving thanks in all circumstances, and praying continually. Keeping the Spirit alive; spirit, soul, body blameless as we anticipate the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who called you is faithful, and he will do it.