It’s that time of year, but not the time you might be thinking. Yes, it’s Christmas and all. And I am a Christmas FREAK! I love everything about this time of year. But the time I’m thinking about is my birthday that’s coming. It’s a big one. Not the one that starts with five, but it has a five in it. And I’m five years from the one that starts with five. Are you following?
I was sitting in the waiting room of my chiropractor the other day. Gotta take care of these old bones. I looked around at the staff and thought how young they looked. I heard one say she was 24, and the other responded that he was almost 30. Oh good grief, I thought. I could be your mother. Well, one of you I would’ve had to birth at 15, but still. It’s a tough reality for me to accept.
The scene that unfolded at the chiropractor’s office got me thinking about Mary, the mother of Jesus. I realize that sounds like a big stretch, but work with me here. Every year when I hear the Christmas story I’m reminded of the fact that Mary was most likely 12 or 13 years-old, at the time she became pregnant with Jesus. Twelve or thirteen? Can you even imagine?
I look at my 13 and 15 year-old daughters and think, no stinkin’ way! They have a difficult enough time navigating school, friends, sports, social media, and boy crushes. But a fiancé? A pregnancy? A baby? Cultural beliefs and biases? No Way. I can’t imagine them being able to handle a task like that.
And then I read this response from Mary, after the angel delivered the life-changing news to her.
Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
Those words are wrapped in such grace, peace, and courage. I marvel at the fact that any woman could respond to such a conversation with extraordinary maturity, let alone a young girl.
I guess that’s the beauty, and the mystery, of how God works. Ordinary people equipped by God to carry out extraordinary tasks. But here’s the difference with Mary. It’s in her response. Sure she’s startled when the angel appears. Sure she asks some questions to help her understand the task. But she simply trusts that God knows what He’s doing through her.
I have to point out one little thing here that kind of brings a smug smile to my face. I learned this in church last weekend. Look at some of the men who came before Mary. Abraham, Moses, and Jonah (to name a few.) Their responses are kind of iffy. They complained about how they weren’t equipped to handle what God was asking. Maybe even whined a bit. One stood behind his brother. One even tried hiding from God. Yes, many great things were accomplished because of them. But Mary. Her response is epic. This girl. This young girl. I think we could all learn a thing or two from her.
Many times my response to others, including God, is anything but Mary’s. This became clear to me as I was lying on a massage table recently. I know the chiropractor, and a massage therapist. I’m clearly falling apart. The massage therapist asked me if I believe there is a connection between the mind and the body. Meaning, that the stress I carry in my mind can manifest itself physically. I said that I do believe that’s possible. Then she asked if I like to be in charge, like my way or the highway? Ouch, I thought. Who are you to ask such a thing? Like how I did that? Not quite the Mary response. I asked her why she would ask me that.
“Because your neck tells me so. You are so tight in your neck and shoulders. In Chinese medicine it is believed that that particular location of pain and tension is caused when someone is trying to control the environment around them.”
Well super, I thought. Miss Controlling right here. I might have tensed up more.
Sadly, she is right. And I’m receiving those words as graciously as I can. I have a long way to go when it comes to letting go of control and trusting God. I think to some degree we all do. Please agree that you struggle with this too? But one thing that makes sense to me, especially as December rolls along, is I want to try and respond like Mary when “the ask” just seems too overwhelming.
And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
Well done, Mary. Well done.