The doorbell rang one spring afternoon. And there stood my precious teenaged friend. I love this girl with all my heart. I didn't have any daughters, so she has always been my daughter.
I hadn't expected her, but I was so glad to see her. And then I really saw her. Her face was wet with tears. Before I could say, "Come in," she burst through the door and into my arms. For the next few minutes she sobbed out her story to me, and I listened to the hurt and the longing, and I sought for something comforting to say. I stroked her hair.
"Sweetheart," I began, "You are SO special."
"Yeah?" she sobbed. "Well, being special sucks!"
I wish I could find a nicer word to use there, to tell you this story without shocking you. But the truth is what it is. And here's the truth: As much as we all want to be special, to be chosen, to be picked, to stand out, to be crowned or handed the rose, being special is sometimes lonely. And scary. And hard. And feels more like "Don't eat the paste" special than "Here she is, Miss America."
To be set apart carries a burden. It has a dark side. It comes at a cost.
That's why, when the Angel Gabriel tells Mary, "Good news! God has chosen you!" I'm surprised that Mary said, "Yes!" Especially when he explained what she'd been chosen for.
You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.
This will happen through the power of God's Spirit.
Therefore, the child you will bring to birth will be called the Son of God.
- Luke 1:31, 35
In the words of Mark Lowry's beautiful Christmas lyric, Mary, did you know? How much did you know?
Surely when the angel said he would be from the line of King David, he would rule forever—when he started using the language of the prophets—Mary realized he was talking about the Messiah, the one they'd all been waiting for, the one God had said would save his people. God's Promise Keeper. And maybe she was up for being the mother of the King.
But did she remember what Isaiah had said about him?
He will be beaten, and we will have peace.
He will be whipped, and we will be healed.
He will die paying the price for our disobedience.
And this was God's plan all along.
- Isaiah 53:5, 6, 10
Did she say yes to the whole plan?
I've been wondering about this as I learned this week's story for Wednesday Bible study. Last week, we learned those promises in Isaiah; we learned what God's Promise Keeper would do. And this week, the Promise Keeper, Jesus, is born. And it begins when an angel comes to a virgin named Mary and says, "You have been chosen."
You have been chosen to have your life completely up-ended and your marriage to Joseph put on the line. You have been chosen to become miraculously pregnant, the hometown scandal. You have been chosen to love and feed and raise this baby and then let him go to his destiny because he is not your son, he is the son of God, who will save us all.
Some people will reject him, and that will be their greatest undoing.
But many will choose to follow him, and that will be their greatest joy.
This is his destiny, and it will break your heart.
- Luke 2:34-35
Mary knew that when she left the temple, after dedicating her new baby, after meeting Simeon, who'd been waiting to set eyes on God's Promise Keeper.
Sometimes I like the idea of being chosen, of having a part in what God is doing. At first, I am ready to take the leap. I am like, "Let's do this!" And then, there is the reality of doing it. And maybe that's what happened to Mary. What I know is: she took that baby home, and she raised him. And she stood at the foot of the cross, as a sword pierced her heart. And she went to the tomb in the first light of that third day, to find another angel with equally stunning news.
How much did Mary know at the beginning? She knew that God said, "Nothing is impossible. And you have a part."
So Mary said, "Yes!"
Blessed woman, who believed what God said,
believed every word would come true!
Click here to listen to the story of the birth of Jesus
and download the Bible study.
Who will you tell this story to?