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Friday, December 20, 2013

A Christmas Story

Handmaiden of the Lord

 As women of God (handmaidens of our Lord) we are all given various traits of character.  

Mary, the young handmaiden of God, was not so different from you or me.  She was full of faith, obedient, quiet in spirit, humble of heart, meditative, tender-hearted, a willing servant, loving, very devout, and truly blessed.  But Mary was still in need of a savior.

Her story is a familiar one – difficult to believe by the scoffers; full of miracles and alive to us, even more than 2000 years after it all began. What might have gone through Mary’s mind, when she discovered she was going to be pregnant and carry the Son of the Most High?  I came across a Diary the other day.  It’s possible it was hers.  Let me read you what it said. (This is, of course, pretend.)

I just happened to be sitting on the floor of my room looking out my window that day.  The sunbeams  poured in on my face as they flooded through the panes.  I had been daydreaming – you know, just thinking…about things.  That happens a lot when you’re fourteen, like me.

Earlier, I had overheard a few old ladies carrying on about me.  I probably shouldn’t have been listening but I was.

“Did you go to the betrothal yesterday?” asked one.

“Wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” said another.  “I cried a lot.”

“It was so beautiful,” added a third.

“Well,” said the first, “it’s about time Joe got himself a wife.  He’s getting up in age – needs some kids around the shop … you know?”

“But he’s too old for HER!” remarked the oldest of the group.  “She’s only fourteen and he’s nowhere near 20 … more like over 30!”

“Oh well,” I heard one finish, “You know how it is with the youngsters these days.  They’ll marry anybody just to get away from home.  Wonder if Mary can cook.”

When they saw me walk up they stopped talking.  I just smiled.
In the meantime I went back to my daydreaming. 
Betrothed!  I was actually Engaged!  I could hardly wait for the year to be over when we would have the actual wedding ceremony.  I knew it was part of tradition.  All the other girls waited.

Then you wouldn’t believe it, but I suddenly heard this loud voice behind me. 
“Greetings, you, who are highly favored.  The Lord is with you!”

I looked up and saw this huge figure of a man standing over me.  It scared me.  After all, I was just a peasant girl.  What could he want of me?

“Do not be afraid Mary,” he said.  “You have found favor with God.”

What did he mean favor with God?  Who was this man?

“You will be with child, a son will be born, and you will name him Jesus”

Oh goodness! I thought.  I’m not yet married!

He went on… “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him his father David’s throne; He will reign in Jacob’s house – His kingdom will never end.”

King David?  I knew I was his descendant (just one of many) but my son would be the prophesied Messiah of old?  I tell you, I was stunned! The man sounded insistent, though.   Was he an angel?  I had to respond.
 “Ah…how can this be?” I asked.  “I am but a virgin” (Didn’t he know I wasn’t yet married?)

Then he explained. “Dear child – the Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the most high will overshadow you. The holy one to be born will be the Son of God!”
My thoughts raced and pondered not too little.  Who would ever believe me?  What would Joseph say?  Most likely he would write me up a divorcement as soon as I started showing. He would leave me home with mother!  My son would be …. I didn’t dare say that word. The neighbors would shun him from the beginning, too. 
I almost started crying.  I felt sick inside.  What would I do? My son would be so ill treated.  I would be an outcast! 
I felt trapped.  I’d have to live at home forever.  What if I got stoned to death? I didn’t know what to say.
I started to weigh the situation carefully.  I decided to count the cost.  I knew what I had to do.  It wasn’t about me at all.  God had chosen me to do something special for him!  Would I be obedient to his wishes?  Even though it might cost me everything?  How much did I really love God anyway?  I knew the answer then – I would do it.  I would say yes.  I would be willing.

I finally looked up at the man-angel.  “I am the Lord’s handmaiden,” I said.  “Let it be to me according to your word.”

He smiled, and the next thing I knew, he was gone. 
At that moment I felt God’s love like never before, but even more than that.  I knew because of my decision as the Lord’s handmaiden, my God was truly pleased with me.

Was Mary so different from you or me?  She made a decision to be the Lord’s servant, a handmaiden of God; she made the heartfelt choice to do exactly what He asked of her, to do His will.  Her character traits were evident by her actions. 

It is no different for us today.  As the Lord’s handmaidens we too are to serve him from our hearts; we too are asked to choose rightly each day, to do as He asks of us, to do His will.  Sometimes that means we must leave our personal comfort zones. When we do those things which God asks of us, we too, like Mary, can feel His love for us like never before. 
Aren’t you glad when you know you are pleasing the Lord?  How are your traits of character evident in your life today? Do you count yourself as a true handmaiden of the Lord?
God bless you this Christmas season. What a blessing it is to read about Mary, the mother of our Lord, the privileged one who God chose to bless with the birth of His Son.


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