I have spent time thinking about Mary, her courage and her humility- but mostly her courage.
She couldn’t have been more than fifteen years and yet she didn’t cringe when she was told she would be the mother of the long awaited one, the Messiah. Her brother-in-law, Zechariah questioned the same angel Gabriel in the Holy of Holies. Her response on the other hand,
And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
Luke 1:38 KJV
Seated in the sweltering heat, fingers impatiently tapping my steering wheel, I am unable to wait a few minutes for a rushed driver to bypass me. She allowed God to bypass her- her engagement was on the line, her family might disown her, her friends might call her a liar, the synagogue might excommunicate her.
(yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
Luke 2:35 NKJV
She laid her life, her aspirations, everything that was familiar , down convinced that God is able to do what He said He would do. When he does, it will be good and perfect. She was certain that the devil is not in the details, God had the plan and all the details working for her.
She makes the journey to Bethlehem by donkey (that’s what we have always sang in the carols) but maybe she walked. A donkey is not the most comfortable ride, it’s not a four wheel drive with air conditioning, cushy leather and a stereo surround system. It is a rough ride, she felt every bump, every rock, every stumbling and probably a few tumblings. It must have been windy, cold, extremely hot at noon, definitely exhausting.
Her feet swelled. She got thirsty and hungry. It was a rough journey. Joseph is also young, slightly older than her but definitely fits in very well with our youth in this millennium. He fumbles and is clumsy as he gets weary. His sense of judgement gets cloudy. Yet, they take it in their stride. Caesar Augustus may have lost his marbles but God has got this. He is the light in the dark unknown.
She goes into labour in the middle of the census. The town is abuzz with the excitement of reuniting families. Tired Romans trying to just get through the counting and Rabbis exhausted from all the dinner parties. In a stable, probably all alone, she gives birth to her first born. She has heard stories and been prepped for this day. But there is a very conspicuous absence, her family. She doesn’t get to share her joy with them. Instead she has smelly, uncouth, excited shepherds visit. They tell their story of angels, she doesn’t tell hers. The three Magi come with the most expensive gifts, they tell their story. She doesn’t tell hers. Motherhood begins quietly, in quietness and trust, she finds rest.
The baby has been up the whole night, feeding every two hours. She glimpses a blurry Joseph bustling around the room, they have to leave. Herod is after Jesus. She had hardly recovered from the dedication and purification journeys. Just when she was getting into her rhythms. No time to lose, she is back onto the donkey with the baby. Her back hurts, her nipples are sore, her eyes are heavy, she can’t feel her arms… The baby is fast asleep. The journey to Egypt is longer- feeding breaks, nappy changes, water refills- more arduous they must travel silently. No friendly stop overs, no banter in markets, only silence.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Psalms 23:4 KJV
Joseph’s eyes betray him, they well up with tears, we survived the holocaust but all are gone. Her heart tightens, “what about John?” Terror seeks to grip her soul, the baby coos. But God. She mourns for her sisters, her friends, comfort them, O Lord. Thank you for our Savior, this will end. Her heart remains steadfast, it is well with John. It is well with Elizabeth. It is well with Zechariah. It is well with Israel.
The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.
Deuteronomy 33:27 KJV