Tag Archives: Mary

Going from How? to Wow!

“Greatly troubled” probably doesn’t even come close to describing Mary’s reaction when Gabriel popped out of the closet.  And then he said, “Don’t be scared, I just came to tell you God wants you to have His Baby.  If Mary was hyperventilating before, I’m guessing she notched it up a bit, thinking, “What?  God wants His Son to come and live in me???”  Imagine.

As preposterous a request as that was, God sends a similar one to you.  He wants His Son to be born in you and live in your soul forever.  On one level, that is more of a privileged invitation than a mere request.  But it is not unusual, when people hear that amazing invitation for the first time to respond as Mary did.  First, “greatly troubled” (read: frightened down deep). 

But then, confused.  Mary said, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” ( Luke 1:34b)  She knew she was unqualified, in a sense, not good enough to have a baby.  Our question is similar: “Me?  God wants Jesus to live in me???  Doesn’t He know how I have been living, what I have been thinking?  There’s no way I could be qualified!  How could that possibly happen?”

The answer is the same as Gabriel gave Mary:

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.   – (Luke 1:35b)

And who gets to have that new birth?  Everyone who, like Mary, believes and says, “Let it be done to me according to your word.”  –  (Luke 1:38b)

A Mary Christmas

Like most kids, I had heard about Niagara Falls.  I”d seen pictures of it and believed it was there.  But then one day, my family took a trip and I saw and heard Niagara Falls.  Standing on tip-toes, hanging over the rail, gaping at the awesome power, vibrating with the thunderous noise of it, feeling the mist – the tiniest particles of moisture from a deadly powerful flow of water – for the first time, Niagara Falls became real to me.

I suspect something like that happened to Mary, the day the angel, Gabriel, showed up and told her:

“Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:30b-33)

Mary had been told about God and believed in Him, but on this day He became undeniably real – so real that she couldn’t pretend or play along as though the message was some kind of prank.  Mary knew, because it was real, she didn’t qualify; the angel had the wrong woman:

 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34)

Her response shows she was taking this seriously, it was real to her.   In reply, the angel told her that God’s Spirit would enter one cell in her body and complete it, bringing it to new life:

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:35)

For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)

Mary’s next response reflected her faith, her humility (she didn’t argue or suggest a better plan) and her full surrender:

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her. (Luke 1:38)

You have heard that story.  You have been told about God and Jesus.  But one day, you will probably have an experience like Mary’s.  The details will differ, but one day you will go from believing about Jesus to suddenly knowing He is real.  No matter how that happens for you, I encourage you not to turn away.  Press up to the rail on tip-toes. Stretch out and get as close to His thundering, awesome power as you can.

Here’s why:  If you respond as Mary did, with humility and surrender, God’s Spirit will enter into your soul, complete it, and bring it to new life – His life.  To know Jesus is real, is to know He is God, to know He became human to reach you in a way you could understand and that He died to square all your debts with God forever.  And for you to say to Jesus, “Let it be to me, just as You have said,” is to receive from Him full forgiveness and eternal, “living water” life.

That’s the way to a Mary Christmas!

PS – If you would like more information, on the right column of this page, you can select posts by topic.  Select “The Good News of Jesus” and read through those.  Questions?  Send me a note.  Merry Christmas!

Christmas Travel

When some genius suggested that they allow cell phone use on airplanes, the push-back was instantaneous and unanimous.  Which makes me wonder: If everyone is upset about it, then who would actually want to make the calls?  (All God’s people say, “Not me!”)  The consensus is that flying, in terms of discomfort and inconvenience, is about one notch down from getting a colonoscopy. Having to put up with inane cell phone conversations as well, might just push people over the edge.

Have we become a bunch of wimps?  I wonder how we would have felt about travel by donkey – in the last few weeks of pregnancy!  Christmas rapidly approaches at the speed of a commuter train.  As I’ve been revisiting some of the passages in the Bible that pertain to Jesus’ birth, I’ve been struck by how inconvenienced Mary and Joseph were by travel.  Mary was greatly favored by God but that meant she was going to have to endure travel – tough travel.

The angel comes to Mary and tells her:

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. (Luke 1:3032)

We can only imagine Mary’s astonishment, to be told that she, a virgin, was pregnant with the Son of God.  But on top of that, she had to travel.  First to see her relative, Elizabeth.  Then back home.  Then up to Bethlehem.  You’ve heard what happened there and what a hassle that turned out to be.  But then more travel, this time to Egypt.  And then back to Nazareth.

It’s true that Mary didn’t need to submit to an xray search, remove her shoes or explain the nature of her carry on lotions.  She was not jammed between two people whose moment of fame on TV was a brief video taken from the neck down.  But donkey travel was no picnic.  Mary was traveling as a pregnant woman and then with a baby.  I wonder why, in God’s wisdom, He decided that Mary and Joseph should spend so much time traveling, so much time away from the comforts of home.

Of course, that is what Jesus decided to do as well – endure tough travel away from His home.  Jesus left the glory of Heaven and came to earth, not as a highly respected dignitary, not as a powerful king, but as a homeless traveler.  If you chew on the “why” of that, you will see glimpses of how God’s love is revealed in tough circumstances.  God allowed some of His favorite people to endure discomfort and travel because He loves us.

God has also allowed some His favorite people in Lyons, Colorado to be forced from their homes this year.  They are facing months and years of tough work, just to get back home – so to speak.   If you would like to help with the flood recovery efforts, please visit the website for The River Church:  http://therivercolorado.org/    I have been humbled and amazed to see how this small church has been blessing the community, while experiencing their own travels and troubles.