Have you ever needed to hear something badly? Something specific and personal? Something timely? Perhaps confirmation was needed in a time of great doubt, encouragement in a time of fear, or peace in a time of unrest.
If you have been blessed to receive this type of timely word – a phone call, an article, a picture, a Bible verse, or a (fill in the blank), you know what it feels like. It’s as though the world stops on its axis, the tension melts away, and awe infiltrates. A reminder that God cares more than we could ever know. Enough to give us just what we need and when. It’s enough to take the next step on the journey, whatever that step may be.
I was an anxious and fearful child. I’m not talking about “monsters in my closet” afraid. I’m talking about a hypochondria, house burning down, parents dying in a car wreck on their way home from dinner, twin brother getting kidnapped, paralyzing, all-consuming-terror, kind of fear. This continued into my preteen years.
During this season of my life, a woman approached me after our church service one Sunday morning. I knew her well enough to trust her, but not well enough that she would truly know these dark secrets of mine; these daunting fears that I lived with on a daily basis. She pulled me aside and spoke a few words to me that stopped me in my tracks. She said, “Vanessa, I believe God wants me to tell you not to be afraid.” She went on with even more specific encouragement, but I burst into tears before she could finish. That was a turning point in my life and something I still hold onto today. As I’ve fought through this fog of fear over the years, He has continued to reiterate this message to me in loving, gentle, yet powerful ways. And these moments are timely…when they come I soak them up like a tree in the desert. Everything else melts away.
I believe Mary received a timely word like this in Luke 1. When we hear the story of Christ’s birth, it seems natural to view Mary as blindly obedient and passive. So holy that she simply said “yes” without further thought.
I don’t think this was the case.
She was a young girl. She was a human with thoughts and doubts. Even after seeing the angel Gabriel face-to-face and hearing his message, her first reaction was to ask, “…but how?” in so many words. Wouldn’t we do the same? She was troubled by his greeting, the Word says. Even though she said yes to God’s will, it didn’t mean she was absent of emotion. Mary wasn’t perfect. She was, however, pure, available, and obedient.
Gabriel communicated to Mary that she was “favored” by God twice in their exchange. Yet, Luke 1:38 states that once he left her, “…Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah…” to go see her cousin Elizabeth. I envision Mary packing her bag frantically, determined, and in a rush to get to Elizabeth (pregnant with John the Baptist at the time) for some answers. All the while thinking, “am I really favored by God? Why? What will happen to my marriage plans with Joseph? My life will never be the same.”
A timely word was coming for her, but she didn’t know it yet.
What is the first thing Elizabeth says to Mary as she greets her? “Blessed (favored of God) above all other women are you!…blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:42b,45) It was like God reaching out His arms to embrace Mary via Elizabeth, with a perfect word to encourage her heart. How could Elizabeth have known exactly what Gabriel spoke to Mary? She couldn’t. But God did. And He knew exactly what Mary need to hear…almost whispering to her, “I’m here Mary. I’m in this. Believe.”
What comes out of Mary’s mouth next is once of my favorite portions of Scripture; Mary’s Song. I read this every Christmas but this year I saw it with different eyes. I see it as Mary’s cry of praise and adoration. It’s an overflow of gratitude and worship from her heart to her God, the God that gave her just what she needed and when through a familiar face and voice. His timely word brought about a most beautiful song – one that echoes through the ages.
God loves us. He cares. His timing is perfect. I hope to communicate this over and over as I develop this blog. Whether it’s regarding faith, marriage, motherhood, health, or work – I pray for the opportunity to be a humble vessel to bring a timely word of encouragement when it’s needed most.