The gift of surrender
My favorite character in the Christmas story, maybe even the entire bible is Mary, the mother of Jesus. I know, I know, choosing Mary as your favorite Bible character is like choosing Kermit as your favorite Muppet, or pizza as your favorite food. You aren’t surprised by the fact that I like Mary, she’s easy to like.
In the advent story, Mary is the one everything seems to be, “happening to,” right? If the Christmas story was a movie, she would be the the one everyone would be rooting for.
15 year old girl, pregnant, not married, has to go on a trip on a donkey, even though she is ready to pop. Just the basic facts of the story are nuts, but then you add in the way the events came about.
Just imagine for a minute that you are a 15 year old girl…
You are engaged to a man you barely know (That’s kinda how it was back then). You are fast asleep, when you get woke up by a blinding light. As you shield your face, and attempt to get a glimpse of this thing that has taken over your room, it begins to speak. The first words out of its mouth are…
“Mary, don’t be afraid.”
Huh? Don’t be afraid? I don’t know about you, but if something woke me up, that I couldn’t see because it was so bright and started talking to me in the middle of the night, “afraid,” would be a conservative way to describe what I would be feeling.
The angel continues…
“You are pregnant Mary, oh yeah, and the baby’s daddy, is God.”
As Mary collects herself, she musters the courage to ask…
What? How is this possible?
As the interaction continues, Mary learns that God has chosen her, to mother the savior of the world.
At this point there has to be a million things going through her head right?
When you get pregnant by God, does the pregnancy still last 9 months?
What is the son of God going to look like?
Is it going to hurt?
I’m not ready to be a mother am I?
How do you raise the savior of the world?
What is Joseph gonna think?
With these things, and certainly a lot of others swirling in her head, she is in shock. It’s one of those moments that is sure to reveal the heart of Mary. Whatever words come out next are, certain to be the most real, raw, and unfiltered response she has ever given…
What did she say?
“Behold, the bond servant of the Lord. May it be done to me, according to your word.”
These words are the perfect words, but Mary didn’t have a script. These words sound as though they should be coming from the mouth of someone who understands, who has it figured out, who has the ability to manage.
Mary is staring down the barrel of one of the most difficult life situations anyone, anywhere throughout all of history has ever and will ever be asked to walk through.
And this is her response.
“Whatever you say, whatever you want. I am your servant.”
This response was pure and unadulterated. It was default, even knee jerk. Her willingness to surrender in this moment, seemingly without even a thought, reveals the very reason why God chose her to begin with.
Mary lived a life of default surrender.
This response, when we consider it’s context, is the most incredible display of faith this world has ever seen.
Mary lived a regular, typical, even boring life. She wasn’t extra special, or radically different. Accept for this one thing…
Her heart, her life, her entire existences was postured for the worship of her heavenly Father. She saw her life not as her own, but as a tool for glorifying and elevating the almighty. The result was, a willingness to lay everything down, at the drop of a hat, for the chance to be part of something bigger than herself.
This choice, this posture, this surrender, allowed her to experience something no human being would ever or could ever know.
She got to feel the gentle kick of the unborn savior inside her belly.
She got to hold the Messiah as He took His first earthly breath.
She got to clean the wound of an adolescent Jesus when he fell and skinned knees.
She got to watch Him teach. She got to watch Him heal.
She got see Him change the social structure of a nation.
She got to see Him look into the face of the broken, heal them, and make them whole
She got to see Him give His life for the sins of the entire world, both past and present.
Because she chose to embrace the advent gift of SURRENDER.