Thursday, I read through Luke 1 several times, pondering what it must have been like to behold Gabriel, to hear his message and to try to wrap her head around all that Gabe was telling Mary.
Friday, the book I am using through advent presented me with the story of Joseph hearing the news himself and his response to Mary. You know, it's one thing to deal with your own emotions about something like this- but to deal with the emotions of the man you are to marry- when you are carrying a child that is not his! Wow! I wonder if she thought what Joseph's response would be when she humbly said to Gabriel that night "may it be to me as you have said."
Saturday and Sunday, I was on the worship team at church. It's amazing how clearly God speaks through a service when you hear it three times. And I sat in the service all three times because they wanted the instruments to stay in position. So I'm pretty much sitting in the music and Barb's message thoroughly engrossed in what God was saying to me in it. And it was totally focused on Mary!
So ... I've been pondering a couple of thoughts since then.
When Gabriel said to Mary "Hail Favored One!" she was only 12-14 years old. A true nobody in that culture. When I think being 12-14 year olds, I realized that I was just becoming aware of things beyond myself about then. I watched my girls make some significant decisions about what what important to them about that time. I'm sure Mary's parents had spoken to her about life issues that she would be experiencing in the next few years. She was already engaged to Joseph, so I can imagine that Mary was beginning to 'grow up' in many ways about this time. But could she really have imagined something like Gabriel happening just now. How does a parent prepare a child for that? How does a child know how to respond in such a moment?
It's not like she didn't know how babies were born- she did. She even says, "but I haven't been with a man." It's a response similar to Zechariah's and yet...! Zechariah had years of being aware of God at work, that God is and does what He says He is and does. Yet in his moment in the Holy place, even then he asks for proof that God could do this. "How can I be sure...?"
Mary's question was the honest, simple response of young woman just becoming aware of God's ability to work in her own life, and not just in her parent's. It wasn't 'doubt' as much as it was 'wonder'! How will this happen?
The other thought that was spurred by Barb's message this weekend was that Mary could have said NO! She could have become so afraid that she ran and hide from Gabriel and from what God was going to do. She could have freaked out that something like this would make her 'look bad' and refused to have anything to do with it. She could have CLOSED herself to His work in her life.
If she had, would God have chosen another young girl for this important role? Or did God chose her because her heart was already open to Him. I know that I, sometimes, sense God putting a message in my life over and over, in one way and another. And it seems He is preparing me for something that comes later. Did He prepare her in other ways before this moment? We don't know, scripture doesn't tell us about her before this moment.
At first she was afraid- wouldn't you be? No matter how old you are- an angel appearing before you is bound to make your blood pressure rise. But her response was simple, child like. "I am the Lord's servant (bondslave)." Was this a culmination of messages that she had heard in her soul that resulted in her immediate, "may it be to me as you have said.?"
I guess any further speculation would be just that- speculation. But like Mary, the questions are there for my life and yours.
What is God saying to you?
What is He preparing you for?
Are you open to hearing from Him?
Are you open to responding to Him, immediately, not doubt, but in wonder?
Are you willing to live life in the 'messy' if that's what God asks of you?
The music from the weekend worship gathering was powerful in my life this week. But one song in particular really stood out as I asked myself those same questions. I include it here!
May He BE BORN IN ME today!