Bearing like Mary.

Get excited, I’m blogging twice in one week for the first time in a long time.

Here’s what’s been going on since we last talked:

1. Papers

2. Packing

3. I spilled tea on the couch and have to sit on the floor as punishment.

4. Papers

5. Packing

6. Papers

7. Reading

8. Packing

9. Baking (in excess)

10. Trudging around in the snow and loving every second of it. The second half of that sentence won’t last long.

I’ve also been thinking about Mary’s story, because it’s the Christmas season. I’m beginning to realize that we have a lot in common. I’ve typically heard Mary presented as the epitome of following God when He asks you to do something or as an example that God uses unlikely people to do amazing things (e.g. 14 year old girls to be the mother of the son of God).

But now I’m starting to think that Mary might be more human than that. Let’s rehash her story, shall we? Mary was a teenage virgin (the Bible’s very clear about that. It’s one of the only things we know about her specifically) who was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph. Then one day, her whole world gets flipped around when an angel comes to her and tells her that she’s about to become pregnant with a baby boy who will be called the Son of the Most High.

The angel gives her a name for the child to save her the stress of having to come up with one (likely not the real reason but also very nice of him. Can you imagine trying to pick out a name for the son of God?) and leaves.

Mary’s response? “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me according to your word.”

The Bible doesn’t say that she leaped around or jumped for joy. It doesn’t give us a facial expression for her or a tone of voice or any clue as to how she was feeling, but I think I have a guess.

I bet she felt a little bit confused, maybe a bit defeated. I think that’s how I would feel. She was doing so well in life with her betrothal to Mr. Joseph and all that. Now she’d have the Hester Prynne stigma (even though that book came about 1700 years later). And as incredible as it sounds to be the mother of God, I bet she didn’t feel up to the job.

I can imagine the thoughts going on in her head:

I know I should feel honored, but I didn’t do anything to merit this honor. I don’t think I’m ready. I just want a normal life. I know God will use me in great ways and that my whole life will be remarkable because of this, but it looks so foreign and complicated. I might have this stigma as the pregnant teen for the rest of my life. People won’t know he’s the son of God right away, will they? Will He come out with a halo? What am I going to tell Joseph? I barely know the man, and now I have to explain this whole scenario to him. He won’t believe me. What if he leaves me? I just want order! I just want God to use me in smaller ways, in ways I can manage. I never asked for this. I don’t even know what to do with a regular baby, much less a holy one! 

I think God asks us to bear what we’re not prepared for. I think He wants to be born in our lives through something we never expected and can’t bear on our own. In a sense, this year I’ve had my own type of pregnancy (don’t get the wrong idea, I’m definitely not pregnant), bearing some things that are going to bear fruit in my life and change me so that God can use me. I know this, in my head. I know that my struggles are here to bring God glory, but it’s still hard.

It’s still difficult to swallow the responsibility. It’s not like God says, Hello, I want to use you, not because of anything you are but because I want to partner with you because I love you and want to use you for my Kingdom purposes. You are going to have an integral role there. (apparently God speaks in run-on sentences) and we respond with confetti. No, God says all that, and we feel like we’ve been hit with a two-by-four. That’s realistic. I’m 90% certain that Mary felt that way, at least at some point.

This is where I’ve learned to lean. I’m certain that Mary learned the same thing, that it isn’t shameful to be dependent. Really, that’s the only way that you’ll be able to bear the weight of God’s work. That’s what He wants us to do. He gives us something to bear and an arm to cling to while we bear it. That way, when we move into the work that He was preparing for, we’re used to depending on Him. It’ll be about Him and not about us. We’ll know where our strength comes from and constantly return to be filled up again.

I want to be like Mary this Christmas, to be stunned that God would ask me to bear something for Him and to lean on Him while I wait for it to be born in my life.

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