Or rather, a girl—with few years of experience, a quiet and simple life but far from idle.
A girl immersed in the sway of everyday chores; the routine of serving her family and others would often result in to-do lists that could shorten or stretch out as the day demanded.
A girl with illusions and dreams, in a small village in a forsaken region--"not quite the place for God's favor".
There was nothing glamorous or outstanding about this girl, except for the beauty of her gentle and diligent heart as she patiently awaited the upcoming adventure of her marriage. Quite frankly, it wasn’t really the time, place, financial status or even the conventional setup for God to open the heavens and speak to such a girl. And then God sends a clear message.
Perhaps you’ve been in this situation. Everything is too normal: you don’t feel there’s anything particularly special about yourself. And maybe, like me, you’re caught up (or stuck) in the daily routine of your school, or job, or endless responsibilities, with errands piling up on top of your already packed agenda (or maybe it is less hectic, but a quotidian routine nonetheless). Together, let’s try to put ourselves in Mary’s place, and learn to listen when God interrupts with such a greeting.
In a matter of seconds myriads of questions and possibilities went through Mary's mind, following the manner of our feminine apprehension. After all, her well known and controlled schedule was being hijacked by the most unthinkable divine intervention. The shock of having an angel speak to her must have slipped into the back of her head as her heart burned with excitement and awe over the angel’s message. Memories of elders speaking about the Messiah and the unusual prophecies spoken by her ancestors about a virgin conceiving a child flooded her thoughts. This was it.
As to quiet her sprouting disbelief, Gabriel shares the news of her older cousin Elizabeth being pregnant. At her age. After all the taunts and whispers of the relatives and the decades of prayers that ended in resignation. Elizabeth was pregnant.
When faced with challenges and callings that stretch out our capacities and faith, God reminds us that He is in action, doing great things and already moving pieces that would seem rock solid. His purposes and His word go beyond our limitations, daring us to look to Him in high places rather than our circumstances and logical surroundings. What our human mindset would have ignored or even rejected, God chose to use in order to set up His most unique and important mission. And it took the obedience of a girl who was content with the season she was living in. It seems to me that Mary had a diligent attitude facing each day with the joy of loving her family, her town, and the work laid out before her. It was in the midst of this simple and unpretentious diligence that God showed up with an invitation for a new season and a new calling.
As the angel speaks to Mary about God's mind-blowing purpose for her at that time, she valiantly acknowledges His sovereignty over her life. Confident in God's character, Mary's answer releases her grip over her own plans. Not knowing how God will make His word come into existence, she steps firmly forward into the path on which she is convinced He will lead her. The angel Gabriel´s words echo in her spirit:
As we read the rest of the story in Luke 1, we see in her answer and in the actions that follow a window to what lies in her heart:
Had she resented her present situation, she would have turned to Gabriel with reproach and bitterness, demanding explanations. But we can see that her heart was humble and grateful in the season she was living in. (Luke 1:46-48)
Her decision was steadfast, although there were questions in her head. How will God achieve His plans in me? He knows my situation, but if He has to turn it upside down and tear apart my reputation and controlled life, so be it. He knows what He is doing and He is worthy of that. Who am I to stand in the way of His will and eternal purposes?
Not in who she was and what she had done. Notice the difference? This way, the heart shows worship rather than pride. Expectant to see and experience God's work in her life story rather than anxious to see if her plans would turn out as she hoped. (Luke 1:49-55)
The Bible doesn’t tells us much more about Mary, but she certainly was a key person in Jesus’ birth. From the Christmas story we are being challenged to be like Mary: thankful for the place and time we are living in, attentive to what God is speaking and calling us to do, daring to step out and stretch out in ways we can’t understand or envision, obedient to open our hands and surrender our plans, and humble to give God the glory in everything we live through. It’s not about us. Let us strive and pray to be shaped into women that say: