Precious Mary, the mother of our Savior, so much has been written about this young Hebrew girl. She qualifies without doubt as a woman who exhibited authenticity and joy.
Upon receiving the angelic message — one that would forever change her life — she continued to live as a humble servant of the Most High, joyfully accepting her assignment with reverence and awe.
Remember for a moment, Mary was likely between thirteen and sixteen years of age. Her betrothed, Joseph, was probably much older. Virginity was treasured, and the loss of purity for a girl like Mary carried the penalty of death. Yet, in spite of the cultural laws and traditions, she agreed, without hesitation, to carry the Son of God in her womb.
My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me — holy is his name …
We can only imagine why God chose Mary, but I believe there are some very specific things that led the King of the Universe to select this poor, “average” Jewish girl to be His vessel.
Her responses to the angel’s message clearly demonstrate that although the message was troubling, she was more than willing to submit to God’s authority, trusting in His plan and design for her life. She was the “real” deal. Honest, hardworking, filled with the joy of the Lord, and sensible in her dealings. The simplicity of the Bible’s characterization of this young woman is enough to tell us what she was not — pretentious, selfish, phony, gossipy, impure, or dishonest.
No, our beloved Mary went about her business with a calm sense of faith and trust, leading to an abiding joy from her relationship with the Lord. If Mary had been wearing the Happy all the Time Mask, her response to the angel’s revelation might have looked, instead, something like this:
Walking to the well, Mary smiled at the passerby. Although exhausted, she knew how important it was to keep a shining smile plastered on her face. After all, she was going to be married soon. There was simply too much to do, though. As she passed near her favorite resting spot, she was surprised to see a stranger sitting beneath a tree. He smiled as she approached. There was something odd about this fellow. He seemed to be expecting her. No doubt he was from another land. Again she smiled warmly, although she was quite frightened by his unexpected presence.
As if reading her mind, he instructed her to not be afraid and then proceeded to explain that she had been chosen by God to give birth to the Messiah.
“Excuse me …” she continued smiling although she felt as if the air had been sucked from her, “How is this possible? I’m a virgin. What will everyone think?” Without waiting for an answer, she continued her tirade.
“What will my mom think? My dad will just kill me; really, do you know the laws around here? But, of course, it would be an honor to bear the Messiah. Once people get over the pregnant part, everyone will be jealous of me. Maybe this won’t be so bad. I’ll just have to pull myself together and stay positive if things get too tough. I’ll have to find a way to convince Joseph of my purity. I guess God chose me because of my always happy demeanor …”
Phew! Scary stuff, huh? But isn’t that how we sometimes act when God gives us an assignment. Instead of simply embracing God’s plan with a quiet confidence and joy, comfortable to openly voice our misgiving with God and trusted friends, we go off on a tangent of “what ifs” and “I can’t.” All while we smile and pretend everything is okay.
Friends, we need not fear God’s plan. His purpose is always for our best. Isn’t it time to trade our Happy all the Time Masks for authenticity and joy?
What a relief to know that your expectation of us is not for us to wear a phony smile as we serve You. You are much more interested in truth and genuine responses. After all, you can handle our deepest, darkest emotions without blinking an eye. Nothing we think or feel is shocking to You. Pretending to be happy all the time, when the world is crumbling beneath our feet, is dishonest and not helpful to us or to others. Anytime we pretend and attempt to hide from our fears, we end up missing Your best.
In You, we can experience a godly joy like Paul experienced while locked away in prison. Although his circumstances were difficult, he was able to sing praises to You, joyfully. Help us be more like young Mary, eager to serve You, joyful in spite of her fears, and honest with her concerns. With You, Lord, there are plenty of reasons to smile. Help us understand the truth and joy that is available in our relationship with You. Amen.