What We Can Learn From Mary, the Mother of Jesus
Hello and welcome back to the blog my love!
Today is time for the Sunday Series, and as it is Advent, I thought it would be appropriate to turn our eyes towards the Christmas story, and perhaps even see what we can learn from the incredible people who had a part in the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ.
Of course, one of the first people that comes to mind when considering the nativity story has to be the Virgin Mary. Mary was of course instrumental in the life of Christ, being His mother, and the conduit by which He was brought into this world; as we say in the Apostle's creed, "conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary."
Mary's story can teach us much of what the Lord values in a mother, a woman, and a wife. I am CERTAINLY not the first person to ever consider this fact, with writers, pastors, Saints, and theologians discussing this topic for many centuries, but regardless of this fact, I do believe that it's important for every Christian woman to consider Mary through her own perspective.
I feel as though there are new things that jump out to me every time I consider the story of Mary. The first thing I always notice is that Mary was very young.
Mary is thought to have been only 14 or 15 years old when she conceived by the Holy Spirit: a young girl, and by modern standards, a teen mom and a child bride!
But despite her age, God chose Mary. He chose a young woman, a girl really, to be the mother of Jesus.
Honestly, God could have found an older woman, unmarried and yet a virgin, perhaps wiser in life experience and much more knowledgeable of the world. But no! He chose a young woman; a girl!
Some may disregard this incredible fact by discounting the process of motherhood and pregnancy. They might think, well, all Mary had to do was exist, and the baby grew! She didn't really need to "do" anything! Not only is this a false believe about the intense responsibility and magnitude of pregnancy and motherhood, but it is also a discounting of the personal fortitude and strength it must have taken to be in Mary's position as a young unwed mother!
She had to have enormous faith and a heart eager to follow God's will in order to handle the incredible shame put on her for being a pregnant unmarried woman. She had to handle the fact that she was chosen for this task, and she had to handle the fact that she was to be the mother of the Savior of the world. And God could have found this strength of character in an older unmarried virgin, but he chose Mary: a young woman.
This proves the fact that God can use you for incredible work, no matter what your age is. In fact, the immaturity and young age of the Virgin Mary might have worked in her favor, as we are told by Christ himself to have the faith of little children, who believe though they do not see. Mary's young age may have made her more soft, malleable, and open to God's path, despite the miraculous nature of what was happening to her.
God can use you for great things for your family, your community, and His kingdom, no matter your age. We see of course that Mary was young, but then she went to stay with her older cousin Elizabeth who also conceived a child who would be John the Baptist. God shows in this story that young women and older women are all part of His story, and that your age does not matter.
The truth is that it is more about your heart, and the second thing I realize about Mary is that she had a humble heart.
Now, just because Mary was young does not mean that she was automatically ripe for God's will or ready to be used by Him. No. It was her meek, gentle, and humble heart that portrayed her capabilities to be the mother of Jesus.
Unfortunately, many people fall into the trap of feeling overly prideful, confident, and invincible at a young age. They might feel that they know it all, or that they are above the guidance or wisdom from anyone else. I have fallen in this trap so many times in my life: giving into a spirit of judgement towards others, assuming I know everything that will happen in my life, and planning out my life without waiting to see what God had in store.
It wasn't until I laid down my pride and realized that God knew better than me, that I was finally able to be used by him.
If we wish to be used by the Lord, we must have a posture of heart that is not prideful, but one instead that reflects the humility of Christ, and the humble heart of the Virgin Mary.
Mary did not pretend to know everything about life, and when the Angel Gabriel told her she would conceive, she accepted it, though she was confused as to how that would happen, as she was a virgin. But nevertheless, she accepted her cup, and she did not whine or complain or become depressed.
Mary did not force her story on anyone, rather, she allowed God to make a way for her. God showed Joseph the truth through a dream, and he came to believe on his own. Her cousin Elizabeth came to believe through the reaction her baby within her womb when Mary came to her, and even the Wisemen and the shepherds came to believe and rejoice in the Savior not through the testimony of Mary but through a star and a chorus of angels respectively.
Mary didn't have to advocate for herself or march around screaming her truth. No. She instead lived peacefully and patiently, allowing God to open the doors for her, and allowing His plan to come forward in her life.
I think God chose Mary for this task because He knew that she would not try to convince everyone or brag about her path. He knew that she was humble, gentle, and quiet, and that He could bring about His Word through her, as she would not interfere, but instead enhance His plan.
Mary's humble heart, and the sister virtues of gentleness, meekness, and patience allowed her to be used by God in an extraordinary way.
Finally, the last thing I notice when I look at the story of Mary is that God's plan for us may seem ridiculous or shameful in the eyes of the world.
To Mary, it must have seemed like the world was crashing down when she was told she would conceive, despite her virginity. But God had a plan and He used her. The world may have thought her a whore, in fact, many religions teach that Mary was a whore, and that Jesus was a bastard son. This was most likely the rumors going around even at the time Mary and Jesus were alive.
God allowed this shameful and crazy story to be used for His glory, and Mary accepted that her reputation might be marred, but that it was God's plan for her. This further proves that God does NOT care what the world has to say about us! We are told that we are going to be persecuted, slandered, and mocked. We were never promised accolades.
We were never promised riches, fame, glory, OR international acceptance! Instead, we are promised the opposite: persecution, pain, loss, and shame.
But through Mary's story, we can know that this shame in the eyes of the world does NOT mean we are on the wrong path.
In fact, God can greatly use us when we embrace the ridiculous stories and paths He leads us down. It is that faithful and willing heart, that does not prize or idolize the world above God, that will truly be used by Him. When we bow down to the world, when we seek approval, and when we sacrifice truth or our beliefs to avoid persecution, we are betraying the Will of God, and thereby forsaking the potential glory He could bring to the Kingdom through our sacrifice.
It may be difficult in the moment to drink of the cup of persecution, and it may be painful and frustrating to not try to course correct the narrative about your reputation, but if we can learn anything from Mary it is that an incredible life and a beautiful heart is not built upon a spotless reputation or on the understanding of the world. Rather, our hearts and lives should be built upon the Lord, and in accepting His Son, our Savior.
Today I hope you walk in step with the story of Mary, reminding yourself that God can use you, no matter your age, your background, your heritage, or your class. I want you to remember that God values women with humble hearts, ready to walk out His plan, and that a meek and gentle soul is always beautiful in His eyes.
And finally, I want you to remember that God's path for us is often filled with persecution, pain, and mockery, but that is not a bad sign. The approval of the world has NOTHING to do with the approval of God, and when we live with an eternal mindset, we can revel in the Lord's blessing, forgetting our persecution and faithfully enjoying God's glory.