Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"May It Be to Me As You Have Said"

image courtesy of ColinBroug via
Itʼs dark outside at dinner time these days. The leaves are finally all down now at our house and the air has taken on a constant chill. The sounds of children in the backyard have moved into the playroom, and the world seems to be quieting itself for another winter. As Christmas draws near, I am beginning to feel that familiar anticipation I often experience during this time.

Itʼs a strange blend of emotions. Feelings of excitement and hope mixed with a heaviness of heart that comes with everything our world has tainted. I love Christmas, and I love to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior over and over again each year. But what if another year passes and all Iʼve really done is worried about buying the right gifts and spending money we donʼt have on things we donʼt need? I love the privilege of celebrating with an abundance of food and lots of time relaxing with my family. But I am more aware than ever of how few people on our planet get to experience such joy and such an overflow of blessing. God knows our hearts and He delights to draw us to Himself, whatever it takes. Thatʼs what I want this Christmas to be about for my family, and thatʼs what I want every day to be about for our families at Grace Church.  God drawing us away from ourselves and into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him. 

Mary, Jesusʼ mom, said something of profound importance as she prepared to experience the first Christmas ever. “I am the Lordʼs servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Mary, like me, must have had a plan for her life that seemed like it should work just fine. Her plan, as we read it, included marriage to Joseph, and she was in the middle of planning a wedding and preparing for her new life with him when the angel Gabriel stopped in for a visit. In one moment, news came that would shatter her dreams, bring untold pain and confusion into her heart, and change the entire course of her life...not to mention the entire course of human history. 

We are told in Luke 1:29 that Mary was “greatly troubled” by these words. You think? Any other immediate reaction would be implausible to me. But her second response is the one that gives me hope this year. In the face of life taking an unexpected, unbelievable, and unprecedented turn, Mary humbles herself before the Lord and says, “May it be to me as you have said.” Essentially, she says to know whatʼs best for me and my life, so I will trust you. This is really all we can say when our lives are altered from their intended course. Any other response leaves us hopeless, terrified, and in deep despair. As followers of Jesus Christ, we have a hope that transcends all that life can throw at us. We can experience a “peace that passes understanding” and an “inexpressible and glorious joy” in the midst of our questions or suffering. Mary understood this, accepted Godʼs Lordship over her life, and made the choice to move forward trusting in His ultimate goodness.

I want to be like Mary. I want to look around me and say that God is good, regardless of what I see. I want to say, like Job in the midst of his suffering, that “God might kill me but I have no other hope” (Job 13:15 NLT). As you anticipate his coming again this year, I pray that, regardless of what circumstances you find yourself in today, you will choose to fall at His feet and say, “May it be to me as you have said.”

-- Ed Sweeny