34“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37For nothing is impossible with God.”
38“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
39At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”
46And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
I listened to this passage being read at a church service Sunday afternoon. It was being read just before I was to get up and preach the sermon. What struck me was a phrase that had nothing to do with my sermon. I had planned on preaching about how Mary literally carried the Christ child in her womb everywhere she went. Likewise, we have the awesome privilege of carrying Christ with us everywhere we go. The mystery of Christ in us, the hope of glory! It would have been a good sermon.
God had other ideas. As I heard the passage read, what jumped out at me was verse 37: “For nothing is impossible with God.” It’s not a new verse. It’s been around a couple thousand years. I’ve know about it for, oh, maybe thirty or so. I’ve prayed it. I’ve clung to it when times are tough. Yet, it occurs to me that I walk through most of my life not really expecting the God of the impossible to actually do the impossible. I only look for it when what’s needed is beyond my own strength.
It’s been said that “you don’t need a miracle until you need a miracle.” In the past, I’ve like that perspective – it’s helped me be confident that God will step in before it’s too late. But I think I’m missing the boat. Using a biblical analogy, actually, I think I’ve been staying in the boat – instead of being a water-walker like Peter, I’ve been a boat-sitter like the other disciples. I’d rather be a water-walker. I’d rather trust the God of the impossible to do the impossible…even when I don’t realize that the impossible needs to be done! In other words, I want to look for the impossible that God is doing around me instead of just walking through life with my every-day glasses on.
Mary had her miracle-believing glasses on, and she was blessed for it. Notice what Elizabeth says “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” (v45) I’m confident that believing God – believing that He will accomplish that which He has said, is a blessing in and of itself. I can believe Him or I can stress. Believing Him lets me know that I know that I know, that He will prevail. And when I hang onto Him, that means I will prevail, too. So where’s the stress? “Blessed is she (or he) who has believed that what God has said will be accomplished.” I am not only blessed by the accomplishment of the thing, but for having believed that it will be accomplished. (I feel like I’m writing in circles, but it makes so much sense to me – hope it does to you, too!)
Finally, look at Mary’s response – she rejoices and praises God – why? Because “the Mighty One has done great things for me.” Quite frankly, at this point in her life, I’m pretty sure that all the Mighty One had done for Mary was throw her life into chaos. A young girl, engaged to be married and pregnant but not by her fiancé – these are not pleasant circumstances for a young girl living in the year 1 B.C. But Mary believed that God would accomplish what He had told her and in faith rejoiced at what He had done for her. Lord, give me Mary’s faith and praise-response when I’m in the middle of the chaos from which you will do the impossible! I’m pretty sure that chaos…or disappointment…or failure… or any of those other circumstances that don’t come wrapped in a perfect bow arriving in plenty of time for us to properly open, admire and respond to with grace…I’m pretty sure that all of those situations are perfect breeding ground for God’s miracles.
Can I encourage you to practice Mary’s faith this Christmas season? Look for the “impossible” things that God is doing. Believe that He will do the impossible in your life. Rejoice in the midst of the chaos that is a miracle in the making.
You will be blessed for it!