Do you ever find yourself connecting in different ways with characters in the Christmas story? Have you ever seen yourself in the worshipping shepherds, the seeking wise men, or the waiting Simeon? I suppose we all find varying connection points with the many players in this cast.
This Christmas, for me, is quite different. I’m finding my heart resonnating with Mary. Not her youth (I wish!) Not her gender (no matter what my health care provider thinks!) Not her child bearing (thank you, Lord!) No, I’m connecting with the fact that she received startling news that essentially rewrote the script of her life. In a moment, all of her expectations were upended—like a rug pulled out from under her. Whatever her plans were, everything changed with one word from an Angelic messenger.
I’ve heard this story a million times, but I’m eager to learn from Mary once again—this time at a whole new level.
She was resolute. Calm. At peace. Ready to be and do whatever God chose. When she could have been fearful—she was steady. When she should have been nervous, anxious, and worried—she was steadfast. When she might have been resistant, hesitant, or reticent—she was unquestioningly confident. Poised. She was assured and secure.
Why? How? She’s just been given very bitter-sweet news—sweet in that this was Messiah and she was chosen. Bitter in that, who would really believe her story? Undoubtedly, she was entering a life that would forever be haunted by gossip, shadowed by disbelief, and trailed by public dismissal and hushed whispers. How could she respond with such strength and faith?
She truly was surrendered. She knew the meaning of “Lord.” She recognized who she was in God’s plan—His handmaid—a female servant. And she chose to rejoice—to delight abundantly in God’s plan.
This season, I’m finding a longing in my heart to emulate Mary’s heart—to be like her in the depth of her love and submission to God and the abundance of her rejoicing and delight in His plan. Think of her words in Luke 1:38— “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” Again, in Luke 1:46-47— “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour…”
When I replay the news of my diagnosis, and consider that the script of my life has changed dramatically—I consider Mary’s response— “Be it unto me according to thy Word. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.” Wow. I want to have that heart. “God I am your servant. Do with me whatever you choose.”
When I look into the uncertainty of the future, I stare into the face of questions: the next eight months of treatments, the potential for healing and remission, the possibilities of recurrence, the eventual possibilities of further treatments or even stem cell transplant, and the long-term risks of other forms of cancer or risks related to treatment. I recognize that God has providentially allowed my life to turn a direction we did not expect. This one is way off my map. I thought I knew where my map was heading—but honestly, I have no idea where this road leads. This map is all God’s.
And yet, I like the sound of that—this map is all God’s. When I signed up for that years ago, I meant it. When I surrendered to the Lord, I knew the meaning of both words—surrender and Lord. And while, I was enjoying my map and thought I knew where it was leading, I would much rather be on God’s map headed where He leads.
So, knowing that this is the Lord’s doing, I want to join Mary in saying, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my Spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour…” I’m discovering there’s a big difference between my spirit and my emotions. (More on that in a later post) With all that is within me, in my spirit—I make a choice—the same one Mary made. I choose to rejoice in God and magnify Him. And I choose to be His servant.
I don’t know who you identify most with the Christmas story, or what you may be going through this Christmas. But I do pray you will truly trust God’s providence in your life. And if He’s brought you news that wasn’t in your script—trust Him and choose to rejoice. Choose His map—for truly, there is no better place in life!