Making Yourself Available

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As we start the journey toward Christmas and begin the Advent season, we see many symbols and images related to the birth of Jesus. Most are very familiar to us.  Sometimes they are so familiar we forget some of the details that do not appear as they were in the real living scene in the story.

 

For example, most images of the manager scene give us a glimpse of Mary as a young woman who might be in her early twenties. Living manager scenes in many churches this season usually have a young adult woman in the role, but if we look at what we know of the culture and times we see those images do not capture the truth.

 

We need to remember that Mary was engaged to Joseph and in her time and culture; she would likely have become engaged at about 12 or 13 years of age.

 

Our times and culture are so much different, but as I look at my youngest granddaughter I have begun to reflect a bit differently on the opening scene where Gabriel comes to Mary.

 

Imagine Mary going about her day wondering what it was going to be like to marry Joseph soon. They had known each other for some time and he seemed nice enough, but she still enjoyed helping her mother around the house rather than being the one responsible to handle and manage all the household chores. She really had not mastered all of the ways her mother made every dish special with this or that spice or seasoning. She still loved playing with the other girls in the village any chance she had, but she knew those days would soon be behind her.

 

Mary had not begun to wrap her mind around what it would be like to live with Joseph and see to all his needs. He seemed kind and gentle enough, but there was so much she didn’t know. Somehow she had to trust that God would be with her as He had her mother when she married her father.

 

On the day the angel Gabriel appeared to her, her world crashed into a different _convertToPNG 3dimension. She had heard others speak of angels and heavenly messengers, but she had never seen or heard one and yet she could not mistake this being of light in front of her, speaking so clearly and with such authority was just such a messenger. She could hardly grasp the message he brought. How could she give birth to a child?

 

She had never been with Joseph or any other man. She was a virgin and not even sure she was ready for that relationship with Joseph.  What would Joseph think? Would he believe her when she told him what the angel said? Would her parents believe her?

 

Yet here she was being told God favored her! She was to carry and give birth to a son. The angel even told her his name. Jesus. Even more astounding was to hear that He would be called the Son of God and was the long-awaited Messiah.

 

Her lips mouthed the question, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”

 

The angel told her it would be by the Holy Spirit, but she could not imagine what that meant. And now to hear Elizabeth was pregnant as well when everyone knew she was old and barren? What was happening?

 

Her mind could not take it all in, but her heart responded even if her mind had not caught up.

 

She agreed in one significant split second in time to be available to God for what He wanted to do. She did not hesitate. She did not doubt.  She obeyed.

 

She was possibly only 13 and yet without hesitation she yielded to God’s call upon her life.

 

Consider that.

 

God had chosen Mary, called her, knew her heart.  He also knows me. He knows you.IMG_0177

 

It causes me to pause.

 

Have I made myself available to Him and to whatever He has asked me to be or do?

 

Have I yielded without fully understanding what it would cost or mean?

 

Have I resisted out of fear, doubt, uncertainty, or unbelief?

 

As I journey toward Bethlehem and the familiar story, I wonder if I or even you should read Luke’s telling of the story in Luke 1:38 more closely and consider Mary’s response as we ponder our own.

 

“And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word….”

 

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26 thoughts on “Making Yourself Available

  1. Pam,
    “Let it be to me according to Your word.” To say that and REALLY mean it are two different things. Especially when surrendering to God’s will may mean surrendering to suffering – like Christ did. Thank you for some poignant and thought provoking questions to ask myself this Advent season. God doesn’t ask about our “ability” but about our “availability”.
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    1. I know! I think that is jaw-dropping when I pause to consider its meaning. Thanks so much for your kind words and encouragement. Have a blessed week ahead! ❤️

  2. Great perspective to come from Pam…The age gap between Mary & Joseph is rarely mentioned but we know it was considerable when seen from cultural practices of the day…
    Blessings,
    Jennifer

    1. Thanks, Jennifer. I think we can not know or ski over cultural aspects of our Bible stories that enrich and expand our understanding as you say. Have a beautiful week ahead, Jennifer🎄

  3. Wonderful! You did an amazing job of making this come to life for me. 12 or 13? I just can not even believe it! I love her response to the angel, and pray that I can be like her!

    Thanks for linking up @LiveLifeWell!

    Blessings,

    Amy

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, Amy! I love delving into the cultural truth that adds dimension to the story of what it was likely to have been when the story happened and was written. I feel sure that 12 or 13 year olds were likely much more mature then than the average girl of that age now, but still……🎄

    1. I love your imagining too, Theresa, and do that about much of the Christmas story and the characters in the story. Have a blessed Christmas season!!🎄

  4. Such a youngster, yet such faith. It causes me to stop and consider my own teenagers and how powerfully God’s voice can be in their life. And I also gulp and think what depth Mary dove to by humbly accepting God’s Word. If we fast-foward we see Mary’s heartbreak and sacrifice at the cross–not an easy journey–yet hope cracked wide open for Mary and the world. Crazy good. A hearty Merry Christmas to you. So glad we’re neighbors today at #faithonfire.

    1. I so agree, Kristi! There is much to glean in this story about Mary all the way along from Bethlehem to Calvary if we pause and put ourselves in the story as it would have unfolded during that time and culture. Blessings on your Christmas season.❤️

  5. what if Mary’s mom and dad had not immersed her in the things of God until she was ‘older’ and more ‘able’ to understand. Samuel was a small child when he heard and responded to the Lord too. A good reminder that the hearts of our children can be devoted to the Lord way before we realize.

    1. Great question and thought, Karen! Yes, and we can train them in responsibility as well….children at the time of Mary and Joseph were given so many more “adult” things to help with I think.

      I think training our children in the ways of the Lord bends their hearts toward Him as they grow so that even if they stray at some point, a good foundation will be there for the Lord to use to nudge them home.🎄

  6. My twin daughters turn 11 tomorrow. It’s hard to imagine that Mary was just a year or two older than them and not only had a child, but also was so mature. Her response to the angel. Her willingness to be used by God. It’s just so amazing to me.

    Thanks for linking up with Grace and Truth.

    1. I know!! It’s really pretty amazing, but it’s also true that children were given responsibilities and duties much earlier then with no modern conveniences…water to draw, animals to care for, bread to make, etc. etc. Even so, it struck me very powerfully that her parents whom we know nothing about must have been teaching her much about God to have her open to respond as she did. 🎄

    1. It can be easy to forget some of the cultural aspects that enrich the story….at least it impacts me in that way. Thanks for stopping by!💕

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