Hey friends! I’m so glad you came back for the second week of me going on and on about Christmas time. If you didn’t get a chance to read my post from last week about what Christmas means for us, go check it out! It’ll give you a little context into this week.
When wedding planning started getting crazy, everything in my life seemed to go silent. I became focused completely on the jobs at hand: have a wedding and don’t lose any friends in the process.
I never would have imagined how quickly the day would have gone. Nothing went wrong, but I did not get to see every detail like I wanted to. In fact, my most prominent memories of the day were prompted by the wedding photos we received about a month ago. Yet soon after the wedding one friend approached me to tell me how The Lord used one part of the ceremony to grab his attention and call him back into His presence. I was stunned.
I began to consider the push-back we had gotten from so many about that day. Loved ones refused to be part of it because they did not feel that we were doing the right thing. Some voiced that we were too young. Some gave dirty looks when I revealed that I was getting married before school was over. And yet we still believed so strongly that The Lord was calling us toward marriage at this time and in this place for a reason. Whether or not there were more reasons than just this, God showed us a snippet of what He did through us on that day. We are not worthy to be worked through. We sinned multiple times in the planning process and became prideful often. Yet He still chose to use us.
Mary, the Mother of Jesus, experienced a similar (but definitely much more intense) feeling when she learned that God would be using her to raise His son and Savior of the World. She could have responded in fear, in rejection, in anxiety, and so many other ways. Yet these are the words she sang out to God soon after she learned the news:
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Mary’s Song of Praise: The Magnificat And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” Luke 1:46-55 ESV
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Recognizing our lowliness
Let’s chat about some history. At this time and in Roman society, women were considered to be one of the lower people in society. They were sent outside of the city when their period came, they were not allowed to read or gain an education, and they were stoned to death if even suspected to be unfaithful to their husband. Yet, God chose these two women to bear the greatest responsibility likely in history: to raise the Savior of the world and his forerunner.
Just before this passage, the two women converse about their unworthiness to be in their current state. Elizabeth says (Luke 1:43), “And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” And Mary says (Luke 1:48), “He has looked on the humble estate of his servant.”
These women recognize full well that society looks at them and thinks, “bottom of the totem poll.” They are baffled by the possibility of being noticed by some–much less for generations to come! Yet they also understand that God is choosing to use them even in a lowly estate. You see, this is just one of so many examples where God demonstrates to us that He uses people of small stature. David was a shepherd boy. Moses was commanded to be murdered just for being an Israelite newborn. Rehab was a prostitute. The world, even cultural Christianity, would look at these people and think, there is no redemption there. They are too far gone for God to use them. But He did. And guess what? They kept messing up. They were never made perfect on this earth.
Mary and Elizabeth would not be made perfect in this regard either. They would sin. They would stumble. God would use them. They would fall. God would use them again. They would hurt and forget His goodness and begin relying on their own two feet to guide them and still He would use them.
I love that testimony. I love being reminded that even me in my lowly estate can be used by my Savior. His sacrifice is so much bigger than my stumbles. His love pulls me out of the dirt and washes me white. His song of redemption carries me through this life and makes my sins stepping stones to bring me one degree of glory closer to His being. I may not be regarded in society as the lowest, but I am also by no means high. I, in and of myself, am nowhere near Him. I am unworthy to even look toward His presence. But He has looked on my humble estate anyway. Praise Him that I get to be part of His story too.
Basking in His greatness
I think my favorite thing about Mary, though, is her immediate and complete praise of God’s greatness. Let’s be clear. It took the world a long time to give this woman any kind of credit. She was not regarded as anything other than a liar or crazy by most until long after she left this earth. Think about it: not only was she a virgin, she was not married. The moment she began to show, she was pegged as an adulterous because she was soon to be married to Joseph. Her town was sure to seek vengeance for Joseph sooner than later.
But rather than worrying about her punishment, she simply rejoiced. She trusted that the One who had sovereignly placed a seed inside her beyond the understanding of man would ensure that that baby might live to do what the angel promised. She sang, “he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
Mighty. Merciful. Holy. Worthy of fear. Strong. Sovereign. Sustainer. Just. Helper. Mary takes time out of her day to remind The God of the universe that He is these things. He already knows all of this, right? He understands Himself. He does not need to be reminded of His greatness. But she basks in it and reminds Him of it all the more.
Friends, we are inclined to do the opposite of these things. We are inclined to worship ourselves, even if it is subtle. We are inclined to only recognize His greatness sometimes, when it is convenient. When we have an hour carved out in our week we can give Him the praise He deserves. Otherwise, I’ll be studying for finals or watching Netflix or getting caught up on work. But does He not deserve all of our time? Did he not come to us? The lowliest of people, the ones who deserve the opposite of His grace.
Mary could have been doing so much besides praising God. She could have been going around to people and telling them of her visit from the angel as an attempt to keep from being punished. She could have been learning from her mother how to be a mom, preparing to raise the most important person in history. Yet she stopped. She traveled to someone she knew would praise with her. She sang to her King.
This season gets so crazy busy. We run around trying to prepare for a holiday that celebrates the coming of our King. We fill our time with shopping and parties and even volunteer work. But what is the point if we do not actually spend time with The One who came, died, rose, and calls us toward devotion to Him? What would happen if we actually spent time giving glory to our Savior? Let us do that this year. Let us recognize that we are lowly and He is great. We are small and He is infinite. Our lives here, celebrating Christmas is temporary. Yet our eternity in His presence, if we are His
, is forever. Let us begin celebrating that eternity now.