I've been marinating in some thoughts and conversations with God lately regarding Mary, the mother of Jesus. I'm sure it has something to do with the time of year. I've read and re-read the account of Jesus' birth in Luke already about five times in the last few weeks. Here is what I feel God has been revealing to me.
Since I became a born-again Christian, I've had several "discussions' with my Catholic friends and family about Mary-worship. I never intended to do anything other than prove that Mary cannot answer our prayers; that it is fruitless to pray to her. I've said this phrase over and over more times than I can count and some of you probably have, too: Mary is not God, she was just a woman. Well, part of that statement is true. She is not God. But, Mary was not "just" a woman, either, and God has really been showing me some things. Watch The Nativity movie and it may stir you up, too (although I saw it a year ago, it has really stuck with me).
Here was a young woman, only a few years older than my own pre-teen daughter living in a culture where you could be put to death for having sex outside of marriage. Now, I ask you....if your unmarried daughter came home pregnant and insisted she was never with a man, what would you think? The angel did not appear to her parents or to anyone besides her and Joseph when she became pregnant. They could not turn to their Bibles in Luke:2 and say"....ohhhhh, this is where the Holy Spirit overshadows her and although she is a virgin, she becomes pregnant with The Messiah. Okay, I got it now......" No, it was nothing like that. I wonder how many nights she cried herself to sleep, her comfort being the knowledge of Who she was carrying and what it meant for mankind, but she lost her honor and her family in the process. SO bittersweet. And, basically from the time she said "be it unto me according to Your will", that is exactly what happened. I don't think it was in her plans to bring shame to her and her family, or to live with the gossip she didn't deserve, or worst of all, to watch her son die a tortuous death on a cross for sins He never committed. No, as a mother, that would not be in my plans. Yet, when she said "according to YOUR will" she changed the course of history and she paid a price for it. That makes her extraordinary and not "just" a woman.
So, as I usually do, I ask the Lord....why are you showing me this, revealing this to me right now? I sensed God told me that Mary didn't demand any "me time". You know what I'm talking about. Mommy needs a time out, that sort of thing. We often joke about it and I know that we need to be refreshed, but I never really thought long and hard about what today's culture has done to parents from this perspective before. I put myself on auto pilot and what is my sacrifice? In comparison to Mary, grocery shopping, cleaning bathrooms, and wiping snotty noses no longer seems like much of a "sacrifice". She gave it ALL. I can get so bent out of shape about stupid things, but I didn't travel miles on a donkey only to find that instead of a nice warm, comfortable hospital bed to have my baby with some good drugs, I had to lie in the dirt in a smelly stable, give birth and then basically run for our lives. And, she was called "blessed among women"! That does not sound like anything in today's society that we would call a blessing. Our definition of "highly favored" is vastly different and maybe even misunderstood these days.
So, what do we do? God put each one of us here for "such a time as this". He's not surprised by our lazy, self-absorbed American culture, but I believe it grieves Him and He's looking for a Mary-generation to stand up and say "be it unto me according to YOUR Will". I pray that I can be as quick and eager as Mary was to obey, even when it costs something or seems odd.