This is just about the time, right about now, that you could look at me and wonder if I am quite right. And you would be correct in your wonder because I wonder if I am quite right at this time of the year as well. It’s December. The list is long. Way. Too. Long. The hours are short. Way. Too. Short. However, this year I vowed to do it differently. I started shopping back in October as opposed to last year’s start date of December 14 (for the record, this is not a good idea). I vowed to do so because by golly, it’s the month that we celebrate the birth of our Savior. But it seems like in the hustle and bustle, oftentimes the “reason for the season” gets pushed aside. So I thought I would do it differently this year and decided that I was going to read all the different versions of the Christmas story in the Bible.
So last Friday, my dear, sweet, wonderful (gushy, gushy) husband was off and came home from Bible study motivated and refreshed. He decided that he was going to take the kids, ALL OF THEM, to 1) fill up the tires on our minivan with air and 2) gas it up. Exciting stuff. However, for a woman who just wants a little bit of time IN HER OWN HOME with no one else around, the 30 minutes of solitude this promised was the carrot that dangled in front of my nose while I quickly helped everyone get in coats and out the door.
After everyone was zipped and buckled, I RAN to my Bible, turned on some quiet Christmas music, and dove in to Luke 1. After reading the first chapter, I was astounded. Can you imagine an angel coming to you and proclaiming that, as a young virgin, you were about to become pregnant with the child of God? To put this in concrete, modern-day terms, it sounds absolutely crazy. However, upon further reading, I learned that it actually was considered a little off even back then and Mary knew this. She knew she would face public ridicule for being a pregnant, unmarried mom. She knew there was a chance that Joseph would fly the coop. She also understood that it was a possibility that her own family just might disown her. But even after hearing the oddity of this prophecy, her simple answer was “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” After reading this, I was dumbfounded. How often has God called me to do something and either 1) I don’t hear Him or 2) I make excuses for why I just can’t do that right now? The heart of Mary was scared. Probably if given a choice, she would have opted out of this one. Yet she didn’t.
I am a Jesus lover. He is first and foremost in my world. However, a very close second in my book is Mary. To say she was a faithful, strong servant of God would not even justify what she truly was. She was open to God’s call. She accepted that calling without complaint, even when it sounded absurd that a virgin could become pregnant. She ran to her cousin Elizabeth, who was much older (I have read that Elizabeth was believed to have been in her seventies when she was pregnant with John. Can you imagine? I thought I was tired at 34…) to share this news. Of course, Elizabeth, having become pregnant at such a late age, did not think this was strange at all. She overjoyed with Mary as did John, who, in utero, leapt in her womb upon hearing Mary’s greeting. Elizabeth then goes on to say that “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” (Luke 1:45) Mary then stayed with Elizabeth for a few months to help Elizabeth during the last months of her pregnancy (um…add “amazing friend” to Mary’s resume, please.)
So what can we, as daughters of God, learn from Elizabeth and Mary? Listen. Really listen. Hear it. Digest it. Accept it. Get out of the way of yourself. Give. Give some more. And give some more. Release what others think. Serve loyally. Go against what is popular if you are answering God’s call. Be faithful. He will provide. You are chosen for something special. Love each other. Love each other some more. And more. Don’t. Ever. Stop. Support your girlfriends. Support other women who are not yet your girlfriends. We are all Marys and Elizabeths. We may not have carried Jesus, but ladies, we can do remarkable things if we all just stop and listen. So during this holiday season, I challenge us all to just stop and listen. Slow down. Relish and celebrate the birth of a baby over 2,000 years ago. What a remarkable and unfathomable life of love and sacrifice. Happy Birthday, Jesus. Thank you, thank you, thank you…