Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Tough Callings

God gave Mary a tough calling. 

Everything changed for her the day Gabriel showed up. But instead of resisting, questioning, or trying to gain more clarity, she responded with, 
"I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true."
She would be misunderstood, called a liar and a lunatic for claiming to carry God's son, and scorned by her neighbors. That first Christmas, there were no friends and family celebrating the birth of this most precious of babies. She would be alone. With her new husband. In a dirty, musty stable. The only ones who did show up at the baby shower were a group of ragtag outcasts that I'm sure scared the living daylights out of Mary as they rushed in to sneak a peak of her newborn baby. 

Mary would surely fluctuate between fist pumping pride and confused embarrassment over her son's actions throughout his life. She wrestled with her desires to conform him to what she thought he should be and do. This new way of life, this new way of thinking and living… it was a lot to take in. 

And then, Mary would suffer more deeply than any one else besides Jesus himself as she watched in horror while they tore apart her son's body. The agony and grief she endured… all because she was "highly favored". 

We honor her today. But her life was far from honored at the time. It was hard. 

I want to learn that same humble posture from Mary:
"I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true." 

  • Even when Your plan for my life looks different than what I had planned. 
  • Even when the road is tough and life isn't as fun as I was hoping. 
  • Even when other routes seem more relaxing, more scenic, more enjoyable.

I don't want to fight against it. I'll choose to embrace it. Your plan is always best. You make all things beautiful. You are working all this together for my good and Your glory.

This is the lesson I'm learning this Christmas season. Mary is yelling through a megaphone to me today. Her words leap off the page and across the ages and pierce my heart. "So, Stacie, God just threw you a curve ball? So it seems you're life may look different than what you had planned? I get that. I've been there. And here's what I learned: you don't get to choose your God ordained assignment, but you get to choose how you respond to it. Are you going to receive it with open hands and a humble heart? Or will you stomp your feet and throw up your arms in frustration? Receive it, Stacie. Receive it as a gift. When you do, you have no idea the amazing things God will do through your life. Don't resist. Receive."

Thank you, Mary, for being the picture of humble obedience to God's will. You're giving me courage today.
"I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true."

Friday, December 12, 2014

Same Team

Recently I was thinking about the early relationship between Mary & Joseph. We don’t really know much about their feelings for each other. We know they were engaged to be married, and according to the times, it was an arranged marriage between a young, barely-entered-puberty, Mary to an older, able-to-provide-for-a-family, Joseph. We don’t know if they were attracted to each other or excited about the arrangement. They may have been, but it’s just as possible that there was some level of dread, especially on Mary’s part. 

And then enters the horribly upsetting news that Mary is pregnant, and Joseph knows it’s not his baby. I can only imagine the hurt, confusion, and betrayal Joseph must have felt, along with a heaping dose of anger. 

But then God showed up. An angel came to Joseph to reassure him of this miraculous conception. God supernaturally intervened which allowed Joseph to enter a covenant with Mary with a lot more confidence than if he was just relying on Mary’s word. 

Mary and Joseph were going to go through tremendous hardship together. God knew that. The angel didn’t show up to Mary’s parents or anyone else in their small hometown. No one else had confidence in the story they were telling. They were the town scandal. This child was seen as an illegitimate baby...Even though they did nothing wrong (and evidently most things right!) 

God wanted Joseph and Mary to be undoubtably on the same team. To have each other’s back. To be in each other’s corner. To defend each other’s honor and show each other love and respect when the harshness of the world crushed in all around them. They needed each other. 

I get that. I have seen the invaluable strength it provides when Andy and I are unified through a trial. When no one else understands what we’re going through. When judgements are passed and critics have their say. When life hurts and we don’t have good answers. 

We’ve been walking through a storm lately and, sometimes when we are in the thick of it, one of us will look at the other and say those two simple words, “Same team.” The comfort that brings is astounding. As he walks out the door for work and I have a crying baby in the high chair, a sink full of dishes, and a child who just drew a masterpiece on our hard wood floor, he looks in my eyes and says, “Same team.” 

And we both know exactly what that means that no matter what life throws at us, we will face it together. We will fight the problem, not each other. Our roles look different, but we are working toward the same end. We will not allow Satan to cause division. Even when we don’t know what to do to help or comfort the other, we are in each other’s corner. Even when I don’t understand his actions or he gets lost in my emotions, we both know with confidence that we are FOR each other. 

We are better together. Stronger together. So when we walk through storms, we will do it hand-in-hand, together. Same team.