In the months before a milestone birthday, I recall spending a lot of time taking stock of my life. Mulling things over, sitting with them, parked on myself, really (and yeah, that’s *never* good is it?). In that space, I looked at my life with a magnifying glass and came up lacking. My life didn’t look like I expected it would as 40 candles approached. And I was disappointed. With my life. With myself. And if I were brutally honest, I would say that I was also disappointed with God.
I looked around and saw abundance in everyone else’s life but in my own? Not so much.
That birthday begat a season of contemplation in my life. Because here’s the thing…if God promised me abundance, I must have it, right? He’s the Author of Truth so if he’s promised something, there it must be. What was I missing?
As Christmas approaches, as I’ve helped my small congregation prepare for worship throughout this season, and even via my Facebook feed, Mary’s Song has come up repeatedly. While drawning in these words, I’ve wondered about Mary. Young girl, younger than my oldest daughter, really. Engaged to be married and thinking of all the things that go with that exciting season of life. And then it happens. An angel of the Lord steps into her sphere of influence and boom! Nothing in Mary’s life will ever be the same.
My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant….for the Mighty One has done great things for me–holy is His name. ~Luke 1:46-49
As Mary sang this song, I wonder if she could have even begun to imagine what her life would look like?
What was it like to parent Almighty God? As Jesus learned the trade of His earthly father, did she expect that one day He’d lay it down and walk into a place of ministry. Did she know His touch would heal? Did she know His words would change the world? Did she have an inkling of a cross, of her beautiful baby boy crying out in agony, giving over his very last breath so she herself would have life? And if she had foreknown these things, would she still have sung that song? Would she still have offered her life as an act of service?
Mary was chosen by God. Handpicked. But on the day she praised God for what He was doing in her life and in the lives of the Jewish people by extension, I doubt she could have guessed the path she’d have to walk. Because the honest truth is that God’s plan for us looks very little as we’d expect. This is our reality. We want picket fences but instead there are hard places. We want a picture perfect family but husbands stray and children wander and relatives struggle to connect. We want happily ever after but the world is broken and happy is both relative and elusive.
Mary offered herself to be used by God because she KNEW God. She trusted in his absolute truth. She was willing. And then she watched God’s promise unfold in a very tangible way in her life. She held God’s very most precious promise in her very human hands and she knew that God is exactly who He says He is.
Paul reminds us that God is able and willing to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20) Though these words were yet to be penned as Mary rocked her sweet infant, I believe they would have resonated with her. Mary was bathed in a life of abundance even though there were hard, hard places. And we are too. But that abundance will have a different vein for each of us. Ultimately it becomes a question of perception: Do you choose to see it? Do you choose to receive it as is?
It’s rare that our lives take on the shape we expected they would, although some certainly do. But God promised that He’s using every single thing for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28) He is well able to redeem even the messiest of situations in our lives, but will they resolve as we think best? Nope. Not likely.
There is beauty in giving up control. There is peace in resting in your Savior. There is blessing in obediently showing up. There is life in His Word. And there is abundance as He promised. There is.
How has God blessed you with abundance in your life? During this Christmas season, which is beautiful and hard all at once, how can you purposefully choose to joyfully receive the abundance that is placed before you? I’d love to hear from you!