Mary Visits Elizabeth

Too often I look at the stories in the Bible and say, “I wish I could be like that.” And then every once in awhile I find someone who reacts the way I would. Today, I can relate to Mary. Soon after her visit from the angel she did something I can relate to: she ran.

Luke 1:39 tells us that Mary got ready and went in a hurry. Other translations read that she went with haste. In other words, she took off as soon as she could and didn’t look back. I imagine Mary was so unsure of what was happening that she went looking for answers. Looking for help. Looking for verification of what she heard. Anybody relate?

Sometimes when we find our self in a difficult situation we retreat. Or maybe look for advice. Or even signs that everything is going to be okay.

When Gabriel visited Mary he told her of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Perhaps this was a nugget of confirmation God would give in order for Mary to be sure of her role. As a relative, it is likely Mary knew of Elizabeth’s inability to have a child. To see Elizabeth with child would only boast in God’s ability to do the impossible, and thus help Mary to find peace in her situation.

Whatever her reason for leaving so quickly, Mary found strength in her visit with Elizabeth. As soon as Mary entered Zachariah’s house the Spirit was working in Elizabeth’s womb. And the words of Elizabeth must have comforted Mary when she proclaimed, “Blessed is she who has believed what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” (Luke 2:45)

Mary’s response is a song of praise. Sometimes referred to as the Magnificat, her words of praise here are spoken in such a way as to magnify or shine light on what God had been doing in their time of waiting. Mary’s decrees recall the good God had done, the good he had promised to do, and the good he would be doing in her.

Whatever her reason for running, Mary was sure of one thing: the God who loved her was doing something good in her. Finding peace and solace in the midst of life’s chaos is exactly what Mary did during her visit with Elizabeth. The time away allowed Mary to gain strength and understanding that whatever reprimand was to come, whatever obstacles she would face, and whatever circumstances would bring, her God would go before her.

I want to be like that, too. Like Mary, who ran off quickly to get her head straight. She didn’t complain or try to run away from her assignment, but rather confirmed and praised God for it. I want to step back from my circumstances and prepare myself in Him so that when I step into His plan for me people will call me blessed, too.

I pray that this week we will step back from the busy world around us and prepare our heart and mind for His plan. Let us praise Him this week for the things he did in 2017 and for the things he will bring in 2018. May our souls magnify the Lord as we rejoice in our Savior.

The Angel Visits Mary

T’is the week before Christmas. Many of us are finishing up our shopping, busily wrapping gifts, and planning our “I still need to…” lists. It’s probably the last few days of school or work, and many of us will be welcoming or be welcomed as visitors in the days ahead.

Visiting is one of my favorite traditions of Christmas. We purposely make time to see family and friends who are important to us. We gather around the table or the fireplace. It’s a special time we remember through the seasons.

When we look at what the Bible tells us about the birth of Christ we can find several visits and visitors. This week let’s take a look at five visits and visitors of the Christmas story.

Beginning with Gabriel’s visit to Mary.

My curious mind craves to know the details of this visit. What was Mary doing? Where was she? How many times did she blink to see if he was real? But Luke doesn’t tell us. He does tell us a few things, like Mary lived in Nazareth and had been pledged to be married to Joseph.

In the movies this scene is portrayed as a beautiful moment with a calm and smiling Mary. But in the spirit of being real, let’s put ourselves in Mary’s place. Folding laundry and making beds in the house by myself when all of a sudden an angel speaks. No phone call to see if she was home. No car pulling into the driveway. No doorbell. An unexpected visitor in my ordinary day would not lead me to a peaceful smile and instant calm!

As if the element of surprise isn’t enough, Gabriel speaks with some intense words: “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.” The word favor here is the Greek word charis. It means grace or charm. Mary had been hand selected for this role because God saw her grace and charm in action. He had no doubts about her.

I am always amazed at Mary’s two responses to the angel. First, Mary simply asks about the logistics of how this will happen. She simply asks what to expect in order to do what he has asked her to do. She doesn’t ask about the impact it will have on her, her marriage to Joseph, or even what it means in for the Jewish people. She just wants to know how to make it happen. Her second response to the angel is full compliance. “May it be to me as you have said.” Whether it was fear or joy, she said yes.

Too often I want to know the big picture. I want to know how things will work, and what the final result will be. And then I want to pick and choose the pieces of my assignment I like. I want to choose the easy parts.

Not Mary. She agreed wholeheartedly. She gracefully allowed the God she loved and served to use her in the way he chose for her. She submitted to His way.

This final week before Christmas I want to be more like Mary. I want to forget my plans and welcome God’s unexpected without hesitation. I want to love and serve my God one step at a time.

As you walk through this week, look for the unexpected moments God plants in your life. Listen for your next step. Say yes to whatever he is asking of you this season- even if you don’t know the big picture. He sent Jesus as a baby through Mary’s willingness to serve. What will he do through you if you let him?

T’is the Week Before Christmas…

Maybe your a little like me. Way back at Thanksgiving I made a plan. I even bought all the goodies to make my plan work. I made cute little bags for a “countdown to Christmas” activity with my kiddos. I listed out twenty-four things to put inside. I pulled out my Christmas devotional that spans December and its matching set of daily ornaments. I placed them all ready to get rolling in December.

December first came. And went.

And now, here I am on December seventeenth and I haven’t so much as cracked the book. The matching ornaments sit wrapped in the cellophane (despite owning them for 3 Christmases) and the tree is empty as can be.

I feel like I have failed. I want desperately for Christmas to be about Christ and not the busy days and weeks. I think I keep good tabs on not getting swept away by the retail side of the holiday (the space under my tree is bare, too!). But I still get caught up in the activities and commotion of the season. And I leave little time for focusing on the miracles of His birth.

Sound like you?

Let me tell you this- you are not failing! Many women (especially mommas!) have trouble balancing time for personal devotion with the requirements of the season. I am certainly one of them!

So, what do we do? As we approach this final week before Christmas we also tip-toe toward free time. Maybe your shopping is done, or maybe you are just beginning. Maybe the plays and concerts have passed. Maybe your kids are soon to be out of school. Or maybe your chaos is just ramping up. Whatever the week ahead holds for you, can you find 10 minutes a day to take a peek at the birth of Christ?

Beginning on Monday, and for 5 consecutive days, you’ll see a post from me. We will look at the 5 visitors in the epic birthday of Jesus. It will only take a few minutes each day. The goal is not to bog you down or give you one more thing to do, but rather to give you a chance to spend a few minutes of this incredibly busy week to mimic Mary. Luke 2:19 tells us that in the middle of Mary’s journey she stopped to treasure all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Leave me a comment if you plan to check back this week. Tell me about a Christmas visit you remember from your childhood. I’ll leave mine, too. 🙂

I’m so thankful to each of you. Can’t wait to hear from you this week!