My life and my thoughts - on faith, culture, politics, whatever comes to my mind

Friday, December 24, 2004

Learning from Mary

As a protestant my view of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is kind of difficult to pin down. Mary is special because after all God chose her to be the mother of his son. I mean that's pretty cool! She must have been a special person with a strong faith. But the adoration of Mary in the catholic church in most of its forms and some related doctrines makes me feel uneasy. Really often I get the impression that Mary's position is in the center and Jesus is turned into either a side figure or someone unapproachable. And at least in my view that is not what the bible teaches us. No-one should be more important than Jesus. But anyway, that's not the point of my blog.
But I think we can learn something from Mary - or at least I did. Two days ago I started reading the gospel of Luke (fitting in Christmas season, I thought) which starts with the angel Gabriel visiting Mary and telling her that she will be pregnant by the Holy Spirit with the son of God. Just imagine that young girl, a virgin, betrothed to a carpenter from her town and what getting pregnant in that position would mean for her! Pregnant and unmarried at that time definately wasn't fun - and Joseph might even decline to marry her then. And how does Mary react? She doesn't argue with God (like other heroes of faith in the bible) or the angel, doesn't list all the hard consequences and then politely tell God that she's sorry but really couldn't He find someone else or anything like that. No, Mary says: "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said." (Luke 1, 38)
That verse really struck me. Who of us can take God's will like that, who tries? I'm sure Mary knew the consequences and I'm sure she was worried or at least had a lot of conflicting emotions. But she trusts in the Lord so much, that she immediately is willing to follow the way he has chosen for her. Her words reveal trust in God's ways and plans. Trust in that his will is the best for his children. And it reminds us of our position. God is God, He is our Lord. We are his friends, but also his servants. When he calls us, we should follow.
When I feel like God shows me part of his plan for me, what he wants me to do with his life, I normally do not react like Mary. I start questioning if it's really from God. And I worry - about how it will come to pass, what will other people say, how about money. And find lots of other seemingly "good" or "relevant" reasons that distract me from God's calling and show how small my trust still is. That makes me sad. And afraid of missing God's plan for me, just because I am too afraid and not trusting my Heavenly Father enough. I wish I had Mary's attitude and Mary's trust. Humbly following God whereever he leads me, knowing that He knows best and will bring it to pass and help me through.
And there is a promise for those who have Mary's attitude or I guess at least a little bit of it: "Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!" (Luke 1, 45)
Elizabeth said that to Mary. That was the second verse that spoke to me. No matter how much we worry or how hard or difficult it sometimes seems to follow God in what He has shown us - blessings await us if we believe him (and then act on that belief).
For the new year I really hope that God will help me and us to believe Him when He speaks and to make the choices He might ask.