Woke up thinking about Mary. Imagine that. And it’s not even Christmas time. I have always been intrigued by her. Awed by her story. Not as the mother of Jesus. Just as her.
A young teenage girl. Living quietly in a dusty village like thousands of other girls her same age. Maybe doing a little flirting with her boyfriend Joseph, giggling with her friends over lunch…maybe dreaming of having her own house someday to bake and clean and raise babies. I imagine her a little quieter than usual, a little more introspective. I imagine her normal.
Mary was, as far as we know, a good girl. Obedient and innocent. Doing her homework, helping her parents, going to “church.” Not perfect. Not sinless. But trying very hard.
That’s what make me hurt for her. Sympathize with her confusion. Her normal got broken.
In my mind, she was sound asleep. Middle of the night darkness. Not sure why I picture it that way, but I do. The angel Gabriel “appeared to her.” The Bible says it so casually. I’m afraid that would have been the end of the whole story had I been the one awakened! I would probably have messed up the whole plan when I died on the spot of fright!
I like to think about Gabriel. He’s my favorite angel. He always brought good news. I like that. And I think he was gentle with her that night. He called her “favored one” right off the bat. Mentioned her Lord. I think he tried to soothe her. Reassure her.
My translation says Mary was perplexed by the news he gave her. That makes me laugh. I think it was the understatement of her lifetime! The news he gave didn’t make sense. The news he gave wasn’t possible. The news he gave was about to turn her innocent little life upside down. Those thoughts probably ran through her mind frantically. This news would destroy her dreams, embarrass her family, run off her friends and end her engagement. Make people gossip.
Mary would never live a “normal” day again.
That’s what keeps me awake at night. The recent revelation of how much I love my normal.
Mary’s story is not the only one where “normal” disappeared when Jesus stepped into the picture. There are dozens more. Zacharias and Elizabeth, Peter, James and John…they are just a few of his first documented encounters. There are dozens more that we can read about. People from all walks of life…fishermen and tax collectors, priests and commoners, prostitutes and farmers. All of them had “normal” lives. Struggling with the mundane. Celebrating births and deaths and marriages. Feasts and famines. Sunshine and rain.
All of these people likely dealt with cranky kids, overdue bills, sickness and unfulfilling careers. The Bible doesn’t tell us those parts and I’m so glad. Got enough of that stuff already.
What the Bible does tell us is that each of their stories really starts at the point when Jesus walks in. The stories that matter, the stories that have been preserved for centuries don’t talk about the common every day parts of their life. The part that matters always starts when Jesus walks in and normal ends. Makes me think about how normal things still are for me. Maybe too normal. I cling to it. And all the examples He gives me tell me God won’t tolerate that.
The thing I admire about Mary is her response. Scared and alone, not understanding what was ahead except to know that all her plans and dreams were likely over before they began. Mary simply thinks about it for a few minutes (or “ponders” it as my Bible says) and then says some of the most glorious words ever spoken. Words that changed my life and yours forever. And hers. And millions of others. Words that should be our example of obedience.
Mary simply said “May it be done to me according to your word.” Amazing, glorious, trusting words. Words we should all memorize and use every single day when talking to God.
Those may be the hardest words for me to say. The hardest to really mean. I like my plans and dreams. I like my normal. But God doesn’t seem too fond of leaving normal alone. Normal is not what He wanted for Mary. And I feel sure it’s not what He wants for me. He likes to step in and change the course of everything. Blow the socks off normal and replace it with adventure, with love that we can’t imagine, with changes we aren’t comfortable with. With something so much more glorious and eternal. What Mary got. And Peter, James and John. So many stories.
He wants to shatter our normal with His Will. Fill us up with the difference. We’ve got to learn to say the words and mean them, daily. “Not mine, but YOUR WILL BE DONE!”
And then get ready for the ride!