“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” – Luke 1:38
I was recently speaking with a friend who has known her share of troubles. From time-to-time, she has graciously shared some of them with me. As we were reflecting on her journey, there were tears intermixed with smiles and praises of how GOD has worked powerfully and surprisingly in the midst of her circumstances, producing wonderful outcomes. At the time, I wasn’t thinking of Mary the mother of Jesus; that came later.
It’s easy to gloss over much associated with the Christmas story because we want to get to the ‘good part,’ the birth of Jesus. What we don’t focus on as much (largely because there is little biblical record) is the nine months between Mary being visited by the angel of the Lord and her delivery in a Bethlehem animal stall.
I can only speculate what it was like for the pregnancy of this teenage girl to become public knowledge. I remember a little of what it was like for the teenage girls I knew who got pregnant out of wedlock in the 1960s when I was a teen; and that wasn’t pleasant at all for them. But how hard must it have been for Mary in the highly religious and rigid society of her day? Death by stoning was the common judicial cure for what others might have assumed was her act of adultery (remember, her betrothal to Joseph was considered legally binding).
That may well have happened if Joseph, who had his own angelic visitation, hadn’t protected her. Even then, who would have believed this poor girl if she did tell people the truth? We don’t know much about the arc of her story during those nine months, but human nature being what it is, we can at least guess that there was some gossip and some harsh comments aimed directly at her. But through her difficult journey and hard circumstances, GOD produced a wonderful outcome.
The difficulty didn’t end there for her, however. Her Son was ‘different’ from the other boys, even in ways she couldn’t grasp. I’m sure that created some ‘interesting’ social scenarios, and a kind of emotional pain particular to mothers. She had to hold onto the angel’s promise about her Son and the remembrance that she was highly favored by GOD. Years later, she would have to watch Him be rejected, mocked, brutalized and horribly killed. She had to hold onto the promise and the commitment she made that day way back when, “I am the Lord’s servant.”
I can’t imagine what she experienced when she first witnessed her resurrected Son. The Bible doesn’t tell us about what was shared between them during that 40 day period He walked among His friends before His ascension. Her joy had to be beyond the ability of words to describe.
I pray that kind of joyful experience for my friend who too is a servant of the Lord; and because of that, she holds onto the promises of GOD and keeps moving forward with hopeful expectation.
Years ago, another woman in the church I pastored led a woman’s study based on the book PREPARED TO BE GOD’S VESSEL, LESSONS FROM THE LIFE OF MARY.1 I obviously wasn’t a part of that study group, but I do have the book. What I’m continually reminded of by this book, by my friend’s experience, and by so many other experiences and events, is the fact that offering our lives to GOD as His servant makes us His vessel. And like all vessels, their use is at the sole discretion of the One being served.
Serving GOD produces the unexpected, the joyous, the fearful, the beautiful, the hurting, the wonder, the confusing, and many other emotions and experiences that cannot be named here. What both Mary and my friend discovered, however, is despite this sometimes roller coaster, there is great (supreme) value in holding onto GOD’s promises, and being faithful when you can’t see the end of things. What we have is the faith to believe that all will be well.
I am deeply grateful to know the story of one’s journey and to be able to watch the journey of the other.
My life is not my own To You I belong
I give myself
I give myself away.2
- PREPARED TO BE GOD’S VESSEL, LESSONS FROM THE LIFE OF MARY by Henry Blackabee and Carrie Blackabee Webb, Thomas Nelson Publishing, Nashville, TN, 2006.
- I Give Myself Away, Lyrics and Music by William McDowell, Copyright held by Delivery Publishing, 2008.
© Byron L. Hannon, 2018. All rights reserved to text content unless otherwise noted.