Each Advent, my church publishes a devotional to be read during the season leading to Christmas. I always enjoy writing for the devotional because it challenges me to really think about the meaning behind this time of year. When I received the passage I was to contemplate and write on, I was hesitant. I wasn't sure how I was going to make real world connections to a story that seems so unworldly. Here is what I wrote:
Wow! When I read the passage I was given to ponder for the Advent devotional, I was taken aback. “How,” I questioned, “am I supposed to write about Mary learning of the awesome responsibility of birthing the Savior of the world? Really? What can I possibly say that equates to something of this magnitude?” As I contemplated the passage, I decided I needed more context than what can be gleaned from just 2 verses. Initially, I interpreted Mary’s reaction to the virgin birth as one of astonishment… as in mind blown, hands on head, gasping for breath. But reading a little further into Luke, I realized, Mary doesn’t have this type of reaction at all. As a matter of fact, Luke characterizes Mary as calmly accepting of this seeming impossibility, saying, “I am the Lord’s servant.” Light bulb moment!
Mary has the reaction that she does because she has Faith. She believes in God’s plan for her. She trusts that God will give her the strength to fulfill his promise to the world, and she accepts this responsibility despite how improbable it sounds to her. This is where the lesson is found. Not in the virgin birth, but rather in Mary.
I believe we all face situations in our lives that we don’t understand, or encounter responsibility we don’t feel adequately prepared to accept. Rather than trust in God’s plan and have Faith that He will provide us with the strength we need, we question Him. This was never more so the case for me than in the final days of my mom’s life. I didn’t understand why God was doing this to her, to me, to our family. What did my mom do to deserve cancer? I struggled with the reality that God’s plan was not the one that we prayed for, hoped for, begged for… While my mom was fighting for her life, I was fighting with feelings of inadequacy at being her strength when she needed it most. Our roles were reversed. She was MY rock. She was MY greatest support. In those last days, I had to be those things for her. I didn’t believe that I had the capacity to be that person, or to handle any of it…. and I didn’t want that responsibility. I especially didn’t believe I could withstand saying goodbye, and worse yet, living without my mom.
I’m writing this devotional on the 2-year anniversary of my mom’s passing. God’s plan was not the one that I wanted for my mom’s life, or my own. Despite this, I realize that his plan hasn’t led me astray. I am a stronger person than I ever knew I could be. A few hours ago I crossed the finish line of the Marine Corps Marathon! I never knew I was capable of pushing my physical, mental, and emotional limits as far as are needed to train for and run a marathon. But I did it.
Just like His plan for Mary was greater than her comprehension, God’s plan is bigger than any of us can understand. It’s Faith that provides the strength we need to live out His plan.