She was relatively unknown, possibly as young as fourteen when she is first mentioned in the gospels, but she was called to fulfill a big role in God’s grand plan of redemption. Mary – we aren’t even given a last name, simply that she was from Nazareth – was chosen by God to carry, birth, and raise the Lord Jesus, fully man yet always divine, the Son of the Most High God. Her role was honored and important, mightily blessed, yet incredibly challenging at times. She knew the power and presence of the Holy Spirit long before the early believers at Pentecost several decades later. But her calling would still be carried out in largely unseen, private, simply faithful and steadfast moments in a humble home.
So what can I learn about God from her story? How can I see His hand working and answer His call on my own life as I ponder hers? There are many intricate details that captivate my attention. But today, I find myself lingering over some of the more difficult moments she faced.
I never thought about the fact that Mary was the only person present at both the Lord’s birth and His death. Mary was probably the one person on earth who spent the most time with Jesus – face to face, in conversation, physically touched and impacted by Him in so many ways for 30+ years. But we are given so few glimpses into that relationship, those day to day interactions. Could it be because each of us has our own intensely personal connection with our Savior that the details of His relationship with Mary are appropriately private, above and beyond any possible comparison?
What we are told is that Mary treasured all of these things in her heart… not shared, not boasted about, not even thought “out loud” (as I am often guilty of doing… rehearsing the details out loud as a way of “processing” them). No, she simply treasured all of those moments – some private, some public – all of her observations of this remarkable Child growing into a Man. Mary listened to His words and pondered them. She learned to trust in this God Man she was getting to know so intimately. She trusted Him to make clear to her just what she needed to know when she needed to know it. She understood before He was even born that He came to be her Savior and humbly responded, “I am the Lord’s servant.” She was confident that He would provide for her every need… always… perfectly.
I have a hard time even allowing myself to linger over thoughts about Mary at the foot of the cross, watching the brutal death of this One she raised. What depths of human emotions must have overwhelmed her! The physical and emotional torture He endured would have been excruciating enough to observe. The injustice of the whole scene must have made her insides burn and ache. But to add insult to injury, she was close enough to see and hear the Roman soldiers divide His garments and cast lots for one that was a single-woven piece (possibly one she had made for Him?). I can’t begin to imagine the range or extent of emotions Mary battled that day.
When someone we love is going through a dark valley, we often remind them of the Lord’s promise to be with them: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you… for I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior… you are precious and honored in My sight and I love you.” Isaiah 43:2-4 ~ Those are the times we trust the Lord to “come close,” to “bear them up on eagles wings,” to carry them in ways we can’t conceive or explain.
In passages about the Lord’s death, we see Jesus coming close to His own mother. The words from Isaiah become real and tangible in those dark moments. We can imagine His eyes meeting hers, His heart deeply caring and providing for her… His love for her drowning out the horrific scene and causing her to fix her eyes only on HIM.
I feel a brand new appreciation for another one of my favorite verses, Zephaniah 3:17, “He quiets me with His love!” I can only think, in that moment, Jesus quieted Mary’s raging emotions with His love – that somehow He reassured her that He was still with her, somehow He reminded her to trust that her worst nightmare would bring glorious redemption and unalterable, everlasting LIFE!!!
Did they talk about these things in their home? What did He tell her? How did He prepare her? We don’t know… but we can trust that His care for her in that moment (and always) was not just sufficient, but overflowing! And His love for her would have swept away in one giant wave any concern for the “stuff” those soldiers so callously bartered for. The only value His garments held at that moment was the fulfillment of Scripture, proving one more time that God’s Word is flawless and dependable, and therefore so is His love and His salvation!
So, what do I observe and ponder as I get to know this One who transforms my every day life? Do I treasure the unique and intensely personal relationship that is growing between me and my Savior? What difficult days does He call me to walk through? Do I search for His eyes, allow myself to be captivated by His love and His power, to be quieted by His tender care and sovereign will? May He sweep away in one giant wave any temporary concerns that cloud my vision today, help me to fix my eyes only on HIM and trust in His perfect provisions… always!
Read more here! ~ Luke 1 & 2 – John 2:1-12 – John 19:23-30