My brain has been in overdrive lately. (Uh oh!) I’ve been in denial that Christmas was coming. I know right? DUMB! Too many things to think about so I cope by denial, denial, denial! I had to shake myself back to reality, this week. Christmas is coming whether I’m ready or want it to. As my brain has zipped from one thing to another, it keeps coming back to Mary.
Mary. She is at the very centre of Christmas. A young teenager, pregnant. In a day and age where that didn’t happen outside marriage. And if it did, well it wasn’t going to end good. If the guy didn’t marry you, you were a social pariah. No one was expecting the Messiah. God had been silent for 400 years. This was out of the blue. Unbelievable really. It makes no sense whatsoever. Why would God be silent for 400 years and then BAM! send his son to a virgin? I would have though he’d be busier than ever preparing those Israelites for his Son! I mean a real media blitz! Prophets proclaiming, academics reading the signs. Isaiah being read from the rooftops! Instead he sent one prophet, some thirty years after the fact and he ate honey, dressed in animal skins and lived in the desert. What?
And why choose Mary? What qualities was God interested in when he looked for the mother for his son? What did Mary have that the rest of the girls didn’t have? God himself states in 1 Samuel 16: 7 that “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Ma looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” He definitely did that with Mary. The bible never says what Mary looks like. Often it will state whether the woman is beautiful. Like Sarah, or Esther. We never get a glimpse of Mary in the physical sense. The words of scripture do give us some idea of her beauty inside. The angel greets her with the words “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Wow! Can you imagine an angel appearing to you? Then he says you are favored and the Lord is with you! I don’t think it gets much better than that!
“Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.” (vs 29) Mary was real. Favored but fallen. She’s scared and her fear and wonderings brings her back to us. Fallen humanity. She wasn’t perfect. Nor a super-saint! I’m so thankful she reacted like any one of us would.
On the other hand, she was favored because she had something special. She was ready to accept the assignment God had for her even though it was going to make her life complicated. “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. (vs. 38) I wish I would answer God that way even half the time He comes looking for me. Mary did and that says a lot about her heart.
I was going to say that God obviously must have seen a strength in Mary as well. Then I think no. God created Mary for the role. He gave her everything she needed to raise that little God-boy into the God-Man. God gave her the heart, the love and the strength to do this job. Mary just had to have the courage and obedience to accept it. With that one sentence she did. She was obedient to her calling.
The whole Christmas story is full of wonder precisely because it makes no sense in our human terms. We really do like to stuff God in our little preconceived boxes. It makes us comfortable. Because we like to think we are in control. In reality it’s the exact opposite. I really like the song Outside the Lines by Hawk Nelson. The chorus goes,
Don’t worry, we’ll be just fine.
Our God is working all of the time.
And when the sun comes up,
You’ll see He paints outside the lines.
He paints outside the lines.
I love that visual. I’ve done a tiny bit of painting in my day. The real artists, in my humble opinion, don’t care about staying in the lines. Freedom comes when you just let go and paint. I imagine that God is that kind of artist. He just paints. We don’t always get it. All we see are scribbles. A mess. I mean a virgin to give birth to God’s son? It’s a social nightmare! That’s not what God sees. God sees beauty. He sees the whole picture, some of which is not visible to us. Some of which we can’t possible understand. He sees His perfect plan which someday “when the sun comes up” we’ll see it too. A beautiful picture painted outside society’s preconceived lines. It’ll be a masterpiece. Up there with the masterpiece of Christmas and a teenage virgin giving birth to God’s own Son.