The story continues. The plot thickens. I love reading of God’s goodness, kindness, and gentleness with sweet young Mary throughout this story. Over and over and over again, His compassion is revealed to Mary in a tender way. In Part 1 of this series, we watch as Gabriel first appears to Mary and gently affirms and disarms her fear by telling her, “You are highly favored by God”. In Part 2, the story continues with Gabriel’s patient explanation when she asks him, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And this leads us right into today’s lesson, Part 3, from Luke 1:39-56.
I have often wondered about the next part of this story. Mary receives this incredulous news. She humbly accepts her destiny as the mother of this child who will be the Son of the Most High. Then in verse 39, the VERY NEXT VERSE we read, “At that time, Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth”… in turn, Elizabeth exclaims, “Why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
OK wait just a minute!! Press pause here. What happened between the time of Mary’s visit with Gabriel and her travels to Elizabeth’s house? How much time actually passed between verses 38 and 39? Hours? Days? Weeks? First, she would have to tell Joseph of this potentially earth shattering news that she…. w-w-w-was….. p-p-p-pregnant…
I admit, I really wish the writers of the Bible would have included more mouth watering details, don’t you? So many emotions, reactions, and circumstances are left to our imaginations. As a human being…ok, as a woman…I just want more. My mind hungers for all the thoughts, feelings, and emotions to be shared, as in a good juicy Francine Rivers romance novel. I wonder, if the Bible had been written by women, how many volumes would it be?
But our Bible stories often omit these human emotions. We are left to our imaginations to fill in between the lines. Maybe this is how God intended it to be. As humans, we have been given the ability to empathize with other souls going through a difficult times. We can put ourselves in their shoes and try to feel how they would feel. As impossible and undeniably outlandish this particular circumstance finds Mary, nonetheless, we must go there. So in order to feel the weight on her shoulders, let’s exercise our God given intuition and imagination.
The angel Gabriel departs just as quickly as he had arrived and Mary is left standing there. Finally she manages to lift one heavy leg and take a step towards home, then another, then another, slowly, wearily, heart pounding, face flushed, and numb. Her thoughts are a million miles away. I imagine it felt like a blur, the whole scenario…the magnificent angel Gabriel just told me that I’m going to bear a child and that He will be the Son of God… how is this possible? How am I going to tell my father this news? What will Joseph say? Will they think I am crazy? Will I be a humiliation to my family? Will I be scorned and stoned? Will anyone believe me that this really happened? DID it really happen? Was it a dream?
Well, no doubt Mary had a difficult evening ahead of her. This would not be dinnertime as usual in Mary’s home that evening. Or the next. Or the next. This was a big one. Huge. And then, as her sandals scuffled slowly down the dusty road towards home, she remembered something told to her by Gabriel. “Even Elizabeth, your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:36-37
Elizabeth… I must go and see Elizabeth. If she is truly pregnant as Gabriel said, she will understand. I need a friend. She is my only hope for sanity through these next few months. And so sometime sooner or later, Mary journeys to her expectant cousin’s house.
With great anticipation, Mary finally arrives and knocks. Elizabeth (with gray hair and a big round belly) opens the door, embraces Mary, and speaks life-giving affirming words over her, “Why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” As Mary, there is only one way I could imagine myself responding in that situation. Knees buckling, I would’ve fallen into my cousin’s arms, weeping. All of the pent up overwhelming emotions and fear of the past few days or weeks pouring out of me. The realization and verification hit Mary deep in her soul that this has not been a dream, but an act of Almighty God Himself in her life.
Isn’t our Lord amazing? Not only did He chose an older, wiser relative, Elizabeth, to become pregnant beside Mary, but He intentionally spoke through Gabriel to share this truth with Mary at the time of their encounter. She would have a soul sister through all this. The Lord of Lord and King of Kings was concerned for Mary’s well being down to the finest detail. He knew she would need a true friend with whom to share this special and unique calling God had placed on her life.
Do you realize God cares about the smallest details of your life? Nothing goes unnoticed by Him. He plans His work, and works His plan. He knows what we need even before we know it. “Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely O Lord.” Psalm 139:4
Rest in this knowledge, my sister. Give God every concern, every worry, and every care. Trust that He knows you…really knows you. He gets you. He loves you deeply, and He cares about every detail of your life. The God who chose an innocent teenage girl to bring our Savior into this hurting world, chooses you too. The God who knew Mary and took care of her every need, knows you and will take care of your every need. “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
Merry Christmas, Lisa