Whew! What an insanely difficult few weeks I have had with life and spinning those relentless plates! You too? It seems to be a common topic of conversation that I have had with others lately. Quickly, I’ll say that, work has been hard, time has been short, family members health has waned, political calls have overtaken my phone, I’ve forgotten appointments, demands continue, death, difficult decisions made with hard conversations, a quest to find my place for spiritual nourishment and where I can use my gifts, and to top it off, my husband lost his job! You might say I’ve been living a “Job” sort of life lately! I’m not complaining, just stating a true fact! I’ve been asked, “How much more can you take?” My response, “As much as God pours on because He has a purpose and I will continue to praise His name!” I really do believe He has a purpose for all things, but….well, as much as I’d like to think that I am a Godly woman, super spiritual, and extremely strong, that isn’t really the case. I have my moments of anger and outburst of tears as I whine to God telling him I’ve had enough and I’m tired! I know your shaking your head in agreement and wondering if I’ve been peering into your living room! If this possible type scenario is not the case for you, you better check your pulse! Or look out! You are either coming out of a storm or about to walk into one. It’s the cycle of life.
So, 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!
I replayed the Biblical story in my mind and then imagined the look on Mary’s face when the angel said that she was highly favored! First, I imagined her look of being startled and perplexed, coupled with a little fear and then comforted by the words “favored one!”
I love to be greeted with great enthusiasm, big smile, arms spread apart, and my name called with a little extra tag! “Sheeerrryy-Baaabbby, my special little friend” was a particular greeting I use to receive from my friend Sherlene before she went home to be with Jesus! What a salutation! It always made me feel extra special!
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 7X5 foot 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
Our job as children of God is to declare His praises no matter what our circumstance. He loads us down with things that we think are impossible situations so that we will rely and trust in Him and grow our faith. The angel Gabriel, in Luke 1:37 reminded Mary, “For with God, nothing shall be impossible.” And then she submitted to God’s will as a bondservant, one who willingly serves.
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)
Highly Favored of God, too!
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11/3/2014 02:12:05 am
Sweet words out of the storm, Sherry! Thanks so much for your timely words and your obedient response to the Lord. Thanks for sharing the comfort He comforted you with, with us! I will choose to remember that I am highly favored today and that He is with me! Love to you and Brian.
11/5/2014 07:24:19 am
Thanks Frances. I love when the Holy Spirit slams me with a powerful revelation! I had never paired being Highly Favored with Mary's pain and suffering. I've had to remind myself throughout this week, over and over again, that I am highly favored, The Lord is with me, and not to be afraid! A life lesson for all of us! Love to you! Sherry
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