**Sorry, no funny post this week. I hope you’ll enjoy these thoughts, and check back next week to find out what kind of mayhem is going to ensue around here once DB goes out of town the day after Christmas.**
Over the last two weekends, I have twice been privileged to sing in Christmas-related programs. And in both instances, at least one song focusing solely on Mary, the mother of Christ, was sung.
I don’t really know how to put into words the totality of the experience, but I wanted to try. It’s only as I’ve become a mother myself that I have considered her story with any degree of personal interest. This year in particular, though, as our family faces a lot of uncertainty and I find myself “great with child” right around the Christmas season, I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating Mary and her faith.
Gabriel’s Message centers on the story of the Annunciation, or when Gabriel came to tell Mary of her impending pregnancy. In the version our choir performed (which is not, I should note, the same as the one I linked to here; I’m unfortunately unable to find the one we did sing for you), there was a particular focus on the phrase he uses to describe Mary: “Most highly favored Lady.” The words are used to reassure her, to soothe her, so that she knows that these things–this unexpected pregnancy, which she will have to explain to all–are as God wills, and that they are a blessing. At that moment, Mary replies, “Be it unto me as it pleaseth God.”
That reply is surely the most faithful, trusting, innocent, amazing reply that could ever have been made. I have to wonder if it had even crossed her mind yet all the trouble this was going to cause her and her fiance, Joseph. Did it even matter?
Her faith is blindingly, starkly pure here. It’s the kind of faith that makes me quietly shake my head and think that I am eons from that kind of trust, particularly when it comes to turning my life upside down. But Mary had that faith, and she showed it.
Breath of Heaven is different. It’s not based on any scriptural account, although I feel very strongly that it rightly captures at least some moments of Mary’s life. This song comes after that first tide of overwhelming amazement at what has happened to her. The angel has come and gone, she is heavy with child, she is (quite literally, in fact) walking down the rough road. She is, I imagine, getting leg cramps and possibly heartburn, not sleeping well at night, and having to ask Joseph to stop the donkey every hour or so for a bathroom break. She has had to face up to her family, her neighbors, and her friends who have eyed her ever-increasing belly and wondered at her story. She is tired. She is frightened.
But she still has faith.
She goes to God in this song, explaining to Him everything in her heart. She doesn’t hide her fears, her insecurities, or her wonders. She doesn’t hide from Him that she desperately needs help. She even shares with Him her worries about being inadequate. But she isn’t coming to Him to ask Him to take it all away, or to change it. She does not, herself, question if this should be happening to her.
Instead, she is simply approaching a Father whom she trusts to love her no matter what she is or what she fears and asking for His help. She is pleading for the assurance she knows that only He can give.
Seeing both sides of Mary’s faith has really affected me this year. We all have the moments of spiritual high where we feel we can do anything. Having an angel appear in my room would probably convince me that I could walk all the way to China and then move mountains without breaking a sweat. I have been in that place where Mary was; the moment of surety.
Now our family has walked down the road some more. Things don’t look the same from this far into the trip. It isn’t what we expected. I have asked God several times to change it, to make it easier, to send me a horse-drawn cart (or a Ferrari) to get me the rest of the way to our destination. After the last two weeks, however, I want to be, once again, where Mary was. I want to be able to approach God in the way she is painted as doing in that song.
This is true faith: To know that whatever it looks like to us, God has seen the end from the beginning, and He knew what it would look like in the middle. We didn’t.
Mary placed her trust in her Heavenly Father, knowing He would lead her to the end that she had already committed to, even if she couldn’t see it.
Mary was astounding.
Her faith is why we have long since chosen to name one of our daughters after her. What greater gift could we want for our child than to know above all else that God loves her and will always do what is best for her?
Because isn’t that what faith comes down to?
Mary is beautiful; and while this Christmas season is a celebration of her perfect Son, I know that come Christmas morning, watching my children rip into their presents, its her I will be thinking of.
Her, and the assurance that even a young mother like me doesn’t have to be perfect and without fear always–just trusting, and willing. God will take care of the rest.