It’s fun to imagine what the look on Mary’s face must have been like during her encounter with Gabriel. I picture an open mouthed gasp, eyes wide with surprise, terror and confusion eventually melting into elation and awe.
I would wager she just stood there for a while after the announcement, staring blankly into the empty space an angelic being had housed just moments earlier. If it were me, I would have dropped my basket or whatever task I had been involved in, and sprinted in a very unladylike manner back to the house to tell my family the good news.
What’s not so fun to imagine are the looks on her family’s faces as she delivered her breathless announcement.
“Mom, dad, I’m pregnant!…But don’t worry, it’s not from a guy, it’s from God. An angel just told me! You know, the big, glowing white guys!?”
The Bible makes it quite clear that outside of her cousin Elizabeth, Mary’s family and peers were not quite as accepting of her proclamation as she would have hoped. Even her fiance initially rejected her story. Instead of the joyful cheers and group hugging session she had envisioned, Mary was met with looks of scorn and disgust, perhaps a few, “Are you feeling ok? Someone get the girl a drink!”
Though history views Mary as pure and blessed, most honored among all women, we often overlook the less than admirable status she most likely held among her contemporaries for the rest of her life. In a Jewish society obsessed with ritualistic cleanliness, where adulterous acts were punishable by death, Mary was an outcast, the town harlot.
Can you envision the loneliness of bearing such weighty truth alone? There must have been moments when she was tempted to question her own sanity, playing and replaying her conversation with Gabriel over in her mind. Had she just imagined the whole thing?
Fortunately for us, we know that Mary chose to cling to faith over fear, and allowed the words of God to shape her soul rather than the crushing doubt her surroundings pressed in on her. I imagine Mary often had to close her eyes, take a deep breath and recount the angel’s assuring voice, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! God is with you!” (1) Those words, and the hope they inspired, must have carried her through some very difficult seasons.
I will admit that most of the time, I am not as brave as Mary. I will have an incredible encounter with God and His Word, filled with encouragement and the strength I need to get through the day, only to go out and face the world and immediately forget everything I learned.
The power and confidence I felt when facing my open Bible and resting in the Spirit’s gentle embrace fade into nothing more than fogged over, distant memory.
I allow the world and it’s cynicism and glossy, magazine cover philosophies to shape my reality rather than the living Truth of God’s Word.
“You are not pretty enough. You are not successful enough. You are not enough, period.”
A financial or medical issue arises that God has pulled me through a hundred times, and yet I choose to be swallowed by anxiety and doubt.
“He won’t get you through this one. He must be so tired of taking caring of you. This will finally be the time that He doesn’t provide for you.”
Why do we that!? Why do we allow God’s eternal actuality to be overshadowed by the paper thin, “here today, gone tomorrow,” nonsense of the world? Why is it so much easier to believe the words of a fashion expert, or a co-worker, than it is to believe in the words of a God who died to give us His life?
This year, I have made it my resolution, and I am hoping yours too, to allow God’s Words to shape my reality rather than the voices of the world.
I want the words and the reality of Christ to be more real to me than anything or anyone else.
I want to be like Mary, who chose to cling to the truth despite the crushing chorus of voices who attempted to convince her otherwise. She was forced to make the daily, moment by moment, choice to allow the reality of the Kingdom of God to overpower the darkness tugging at her senses.
Her perseverance was not shabbily rewarded! The very life of God formed and flooded through her. She enjoyed an unparalleled intimacy with Christ.
Though we might not physically bear the life of God like Mary, we too can join in the reward of bearing the Presence of Christ and enjoying a real life love story with Him.
So, here’s my challenge! Identify your areas of greatest weakness. What do you have the hardest time believing?
Perhaps you struggle with feeling loved by God, or wrestle with the fear of Him failing to provide for you. Maybe you’re plagued with doubts about God’s character, feelings of inadequacy, or that pesky pet sin that cries out with false promises of satisfaction. Whatever your personal vulnerabilities may be, pinpoint them, and replace them with an unchanging Biblical truth that you can hold onto when doubts flood in.
Create an inner fortress of God based fact that you can retreat to when the heat of the battle gets thick. Then go there! As soon as an outside voice attempts to derail you, whip out your “go to truth” and refuse to be moved. Allow the Presence of Christ to be more real to you than anything else.
Remember Elizabeth’s joyful promise to Mary, “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!” (2)
PLEASE SHARE AND COMMENT BELOW IF YOU PLAN TO JOIN IN THE CHALLENGE. Which truths are you going to choose to cling to?!
3) Great places for searching for your “go to truths”-