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Confused and disturbed…how can this happen…nothing is impossible…why am I so honored

As I reflect on the passing of 2011 and look forward to 2012, I have found myself considering the lives and words of two women, one young and one old, who are written about in Luke 1:26-56.   Mary and Elizabeth were to become key players in one of the greatest stories ever told, the coming of hope and light into the world.

Both were going about their everyday life, one so young that she had not yet had the opportunity to understand the full realities of life.  The other was old and clearly comprehended that life could be tough, discouraging and disappointing.  She had learned that a woman could be humiliated and considered unworthy even if she had done nothing wrong.

Even though both women trusted in God, they must have been amazed at how God used them, ordinary women, to herald and bring forth the Messiah for which the world had been waiting.

Mary was probably somewhere between 14-16 years old when she was visited by Gabriel and told that she would bear the Son of God.   She could have responded, “You have got to be kidding.  I am a virgin, and you expect me to believe that I am going to become pregnant without knowing a man.”  Mary could have argued that the very acceptance of such an honor would have endangered her and a baby.   There was a high probability that Joseph, her betroth, would have rejected her and she would have been cast out from her community.  If this had happened, her only possibility of survival would have been begging or living as a prostitute.  Or worse yet, she could have been stoned to death.  Yet, even though Mary felt confused and wondered how it could be, she trusted God and replied, “I am the Lord’s servant, may everything you have said about me come true.”

Nativity Painting (public domain)

Then there was Elizabeth who was an old woman beyond childbearing years.   She was a countrywoman without any social standing living a life of shame and disgrace because she had been unable to bear a child.  Now she was pregnant.   Can you imagine if you were her age and became pregnant.   Frankly, I am wondering if I wouldn’t have questioned, “Isn’t this a little late God?  How do you expect me to have the health and energy to be pregnant and bear a child NOW?”  Yet from reading scripture, we never get the sense that this was Elizabeth’s attitude.  Instead, we see her joyfully living out the possibilities of God.

Nativity by Champaigne (public domain)

As I reflected on this passage, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of us are walking through life and not appreciating the possibilities that God may have waiting for us as we traverse this fallen world?  How will we respond to the possibilities God brings into our lives in 2012?   Will we be frightened?  Will we say we can’t do it God?  Will we complain that we are too young or too old? Or will we be like Mary and Elizabeth, perhaps confused and disturbed at first, but then realizing that nothing is impossible with God.

It is always interesting how God often speaks to us in different ways when He is trying to make a point in our lives.   The week that I began reflecting on this passage, my pastor, Dr. Richard Alberta, spoke on Good News for Mary*.

He pointed out that when God calls us to be obedient to His possibilities there are two principles that we need to remember:

  1. Obedience to the will of God is always frightening, and
  2. Obedience to God requires that we trust our God with our lives and with our future.

Mary and Elizabeth made visible what it was like to live out one’s faith in God.   They showed us that when we hold on tight to God and live out the possibilities that He has brought into our lives, it is indeed “good news.”

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THINK THROUGH

I am making a slight modification to my postings.  The “Think Through” now will be found at the bottom of each bimonthly posting.

What is a Think Through?  it is an idiom that conveys the meaning of carefully considering possibilities and outcomes of a situation.

Today’s Think Through:  Today I am not posting a question but sharing a thought.  I am encouraging you to take on the possibilities in 2012 that God brings into your life.  Remember, as scripture shows, we are neither too young nor too old.  If we are willing, God will use us at every age and stage to live lives full of His possibilities.

I would like to hear your thoughts about this new year.  Post below.

*Above you can click on the sermon, Good News for Mary, and read the manuscript or go to the Cornerstone for Life website and scroll down and listen to the Dec. 18, 2011 sermon.

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