Photo taken in Yixing, China 2010.
While I was in China this past fall I found myself listening to my ipod a lot as it helped block out distractions and allowed me to focus on my work. It also helped me to focus on Christ more. I was in a totally secular environment and some of the songs I had on my ipod really ministered to me while I was there. And it is amazing how being completely out of your environment helps you to think about things in a different way so in some ways even though I knew a lot of these songs by heart it was almost like hearing them for the first time. One of the songs was by Phil Keaggy. It is called And On That Day and it was about the proclamation to Mary that she would carry the messiah. The verse Luke 1:38 was referenced and it made me stop and think about it in a new way.
Here is the actual verse:
And Mary said, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." And the angel departed from her.
So I've read that before but for some reason it surprised me this time. Mary's humility and willingness to be used in whatever way God wanted to use her is amazing and somehow I never caught on to it before. Can you imagine being in her position? She was a young virgin who was engaged to Joseph. An angel told her she would conceive a child by the Holy Spirit and he would be the messiah.
Who was going to believe her when she explained her pregnancy that way? Almost no one. Her reputation was basically going to be stained, she almost was divorced. She must have suspected these outcomes when the angel talked to her, but she still said "be it done unto me according to thy word." And not only that but before that she said "Behold the handmaid of the Lord."
I was sort of awed and convicted when I heard those words. Because that is not my attitude most of the time. "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy word." At the expense of my comfort, reputation, relationships, dreams...
However, I think I should also say that while this was sure to make Mary the subject of a lot of gossip the angel told her when he greeted her that she had found favor with God. I'm sure that her response shows why she found favor with God. Because she trusted Him and wanted to serve Him. And what a huge honor God gave her! He found favor with her and chose her to bear his Son. He was in no way punishing her...He was blessing her.
I think this also shows us how the opinions of others really are not important in comparison to God's opinion of us. Why should we care about how others view us when what truly matters is what God thinks of us? And who knows our hearts besides God?
I am a handmaid of the Lord too. I should view all circumstances given to me with the same humble and accepting attitude that Mary did.