Journey with me to Bethlehem, will you?
As we travel through the days of this most miraculous month of the year, rather than going to the mall together – let’s travel to the place of miracles … to the place of the angel’s song … and to the place where the Baby was born.
I’d like to invite you to travel through time with me and eavesdrop on the conversation that the Angel Gabriel had with a young woman by the name of Mary.
Such a common name for such an extraordinary girl!
Mary had grown up in the same village as Joseph, a carpenter’s son, who was several years older than she was. Perhaps they had admired one another from a distance … perhaps Joseph had just been waiting for his darling Mary to grow into young womanhood!
When Mary was just 13 or 14 years old, it was settled between the two families. Mary was to become the wife of Joseph.
Mary was likely in her girlhood home one afternoon, maybe working on her wedding attire, or sewing towels for her new home when she sensed someone in the room with her.
“And coming in, Gabriel said to her, “Greetings, favored one!” The Lord is with you.” – Luke 1:28
What does the word “favor” mean to you?
What does being “favored” by God represent?
Mary was about to learn that being highly favored by God does not mean a life of unbroken happiness nor does it promise that all of one’s dreams will come true.
Favor means, simply, that God is willing to use an ordinary person for His greater plan.
Just as the favor of God targeted the womb of Mary, I believe that the favor of God is targeting anyone who is willing to be part of God’s strategy at this historical juncture.
Are you willing? Have you said a resounding, “YES!” to the will and to the ways of God?
Experiencing the favor of God in new ways is one of the best parts of Christmas for anyone who has said, “YES!” to God.
When I realize that God desires to use my ordinary life … I am filled with wonder at the gift.
It is a rare and priceless gift that I never imagined I could find under the Christmas tree of life!
I can nearly hear Mary’s racing heartbeat as she attempted to process all that was happening around her the day of the angelic visitation.
The Bible says, “Mary was perplexed and wondered what kind of salutation this was”. – Luke 1:29
Mary’s cheeks were probably flushed and I can imagine that her heart was beating wildly.
“The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.” – Luke 1:30
Sweet Mary, who was trying to wrap her heart and mind around the message of the angel, may have been incredulously pondering, “Me?! God chose me?! I am the chosen one to carry God’s child? I am to be the mother of the Messiah?”
Christmas is a reminder to me … and to you … and to Mary … that His ways are always higher and better than anything that we could ever think or imagine.
Christmas has nothing to do with dancing elves, reindeer with red noses or snowmen who sing.
Christmas is about an invasion!
Christmas happens at the moment when heaven’s light invades the darkness of planet earth!
Christmas is not about the holiday spirit that rushes toward us the day after Thanksgiving and compels us to shop, spend, and eat.
Christmas is about the Holy Spirit bringing peace and joy through a Baby Boy to the mess that we have made of planet earth.
Christmas is about the power of heaven’s reality invading one common life.
“For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)
Christmas, for Mary, was learning the ultimate truth of this one statement: “Nothing will be impossible with God!”
When Christmas rolls around each year, we must embrace the absolute faith that nothing is impossible with God!
My friend, you honor God when you ask of Him the impossible.
So this year, rather than giving Santa an enormous and materialistic list, perhaps it would be most sincere to change your focus from temporary to eternal, from material to priceless and then to ask God for your true heart’s desire.
Impossibility is God’s specialty! It is what He does best!
You serve a God Who loves to show Himself miraculous in the face of profound disappointment and darkness.
Most of us go through the Christmas season focused on self … on what we want and desire and deserve. Some people want a new house … or a great piece of jewelry … or for all of our children to come home for the holidays.
Some folks emphatically believe that they deserve a Christmas bonus, a tree-laden with expensive gifts or someone to clean the house for the holidays.
If those are your desires, you are missing the heart of Christmas!
You are missing the difficult yet sacred lesson that the life of Mary teaches all of us today: Our plans pale in comparison to His interruptions!
The most significant and meaningful desire that you will ever embrace is to ask God to interrupt your life with His love and His plans.
Christmas is about the intervention of God into our ordinary lives; it is about Christ being born into our disappointments and failures.
Then, Mary, the very young, but specifically chosen mother of Jesus, uttered one of the most courageous statements in all of Scripture.
“Behold the bondslave of the Lord, may it be done to me according to your word.” – (Luke 1:38)
A “bondslave” was a slave who was able to go free but instead chose to stay and serve his or her master.
Mary willingly chose to offer temporary housing to the Savior of the world because that was God’s desire.
When her world collided with God’s ultimate desire, Mary died to self and submitted to God the Father.
Has God asked something difficult of you? How have you responded?
Have you said, “Behold the bondslave of the Lord, may it be done to me according to Your word.”
God is looking for bondslaves: He is in search of men and women who are willing to serve Him out of love.
God is looking for those who willingly submit to His ways and plans simply because their heart completely belongs to Him.
God desires men and women who will allow Him to interrupt their perfectly planned lives with His unbelievable and miraculous plans!
Are you willing to be a bondslave of the Father?
Mary’s pure heart and true resolve are revealed through the final words of her statement, “ … May it be done to me according to Your word.”
Is that the resolve of your heart as well?
When your will comes into conflict with God’s Word, God’s Word must win at all cost.
I declare, with Mary, that in my life, it will always be done according to His Word because I am His bondslave.
Thanks for listening to my heart this week. As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me. And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!
Used with permission from carolmcleodministries.com.