Thanksgiving holiday has just ended and Christmas events are already kicking into gear...but I have had a little time to think and reflect! I could have written a thousands words to you about my thankful heart and how God has continuously revealed Himself to me throughout His faithful ways throughout this past year, November to November!. Instead, I decided to take a quick look back at last year's events and the blog I wrote last November. I am re-sharing it with you because His words to me then remain as important as now!
November 2014 - ...in the midst of it all, I was rushing around, getting ready for a concert for my school kids, and while blow-drying my hair (God strikes me with interesting thoughts at the most unusual times!), I had an epiphany! It hit me so hard I had to stop what I was doing, look at myself in the mirror and say it back to myself! Mary was highly favored! Now, I wasn’t thinking about anything but the Yellow Leaf Festival and whether or not the soundman was going to be present to assist me. I had been packing up and problem solving all morning with thoughts of autumn dampness, singing, what happens if my CD doesn’t work, and how many kids could I squeeze onto a tiny stage?! The Annunciation was in NO way on my mind….so it had to come from God!
Mary’s salutation was nothing short of verifying her special standing with God and then followed with a lifelong promise, “The Lord is with thee!” Luke 1:28
As I stood gazing into the 7'X5' mirror that morning, and repeated those King James Version words that I memorized so long ago, I began to think of the many difficult situations that Mary was faced with during her life, and she was highly favored!
Mary was from Nazareth. It had little wealth, culture or learning and it wasn’t the most desirable place to live. She worked hard as a woman taking care of daily needs, working in the fields, and walking a distance with her jug to dip water from the well and bring it back home for cooking and laundry. A different kind of life than what we are used to, yet the same without modern conveniences.
Mary had some troubling questions after the angel left her with the news. What about her marriage to Joseph? Since she was bearing a child that was not his, Mary had to face the anguishing prospect of divorce and the shame it could bring down upon her in a small town that frowned on an unfaithful wife. Even though he had a high regard for her, how could she explain to Joseph the mysterious act of God and an angel no one else saw? Mary must have been a very private person for she pondered many things and keep them in her heart! That can be a lonely place.
I think about this highly favored girl riding a donkey and traveling when she was just about to give birth. Then, in a nasty ole stable, her baby boy, Jesus, was delivered…and she was highly favored? Then, when he was just toddling around, Mary and Joseph had to flee their home…quickly pack up and head out…with the fear of her child being murdered by King Herod. She also carried the weight of knowing that Jesus would be sacrificed as the Savior of the world. What kind of life Mary must have lived with so many burdens and so much to carry in her heart? Things not easily shared with even the closest of friends!
"But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19
Sometimes carrying the weight around in your heart and mind is exhausting and can leave room for conjuring up deceitful imaginations. Questions and doubt arise leaving your heart at unrest. Cling to the promises of God.
Perhaps Mary knew of the words of Isaiah:
"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you." Is. 26:3
When you doubt and question the mighty and precious acts of God, remember to seek the peace of God.
"And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7
Seems to me that someone who is highly favored should be treated with the best, the easiest, the most, recognized as special, and set apart from the common! Why, isn’t that the way we treat honored and favored people?! Well, the world does! As Christians, we are called not to behave as the world does. The first will be last and the last will be first. The Christian life is sort of the upside down life…from a worldly perspective. So Mary, who really lived a difficult life, was highly favored of God. He placed upon her many burdens to quietly bear. She was considered highly favored because of her great faith in God. See how quickly she responded to the angel with “I am the handmaid of the Lord,' said Mary. 'Let what you have said be done to me.’” Is that how we respond when we are placed in difficult situations or when the Lord requires something of us that we think is impossible or perhaps we do not want to do?
After the angel greeted her with this honored greeting, his next words were, “The Lord is with you.” How cool to be comforted with knowing that God’s personal messenger has come to you with these words! Number one, I’m highly favored. Number two, The Lord is with me. Could this be her sequence of thinking? I just kinda believe that by the angel stating that ‘The Lord was with her’, it was a powerful statement that Mary would refer to throughout the remainder of her days! Surely it made an impact! Yes, the Lord had been with the people of Nazareth for many years. The Jews were God’s chosen people, and they were descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God had led them out of Egypt and through the desert. The prophets proclaimed that God would send a Messiah. Now, this message became real for her. The Lord was with her and it was personal!
The next phrase spoken to Mary from the angel was, “Do not be afraid, Mary.” Humm…highly favored, The Lord is with me, don’t be afraid. What an interesting succession! If she was favored and the Lord was with her, what reason should she have to be afraid? It wasn’t until after he told her these three things that he revealed the event that would come to pass. Just maybe, she needed to hear these words spoken to help engrave them on her heart so that when storms and hardships came her way, she would remember! And they did come her way, over and over again.
You are highly favored….The Lord is with You…Don’t you be afraid! echoed in my heart.
So here I am, standing with wet hair and I shouted out to Brian, who had just lost his job the day before, “Mary was highly favored!” I don’t really think that he thought that I was nuts, because I’m always saying something out of the blue that relates to absolutely nothing! I ponder a lot! Then I said it again! “Mary was highly favored!” Don’t you get it? We are like Mary…chosen…favored…His special possession!
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, God's special possession,
that you may declare the praises of him who called you
out of darkness into his wonderful light." 1 Peter 2:9
The Lord was with her through everything and it wasn’t always pretty. Likewise, the Lord is also with us. We need to remember to look to Him for our strength, wisdom, and understanding in every situation. Don’t be afraid. Praise and give Him thanks. It will make your heart smile and grow stronger as you deepen your faith in God.
“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess. 5:18 NLT
I might add that I was intrigued at God’s choice of revelation to me over that of Job and all of his struggles. I guess He just wanted to remind me that we are:
Highly Favored ~ The Lord is with us ~ and not to be afraid!
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,
according to the power at work within us,
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations,
forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV)
Looking back over the past year, I see how His hand has guided my way. Looking upon the horizon, I continue to see a myriad of impossible situations, or so I think, but with the promises of God in hand and the constant reminder that we (God's chosen children) are Highly favored ~ The Lord is with us ~ be not afraid, I can press forward with a thankful and brave heart. You can do the same if you'll just trust Him with your whole heart and mind!
Bond-Servant of the Lord,
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