Are You Desperate to See?

Jesus didn't die so we could have a religion.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Desperate Virgin

I have recently been asked to commit in a much deeper way to my service at the church. My initial reaction was stomach flip-flops and iron butterflies. The woman even pointed out I had paled several shades. I drove home in a stupor and made supper, pondering the proposal. I began to have a conversation with God in which I was doing all the talking. I was really stunned that my husband and I were asked to do more in leadership. We don't even like church on the whole, and had decided we were done with church before God brought us back to this one about three years ago.

After my first reaction, I began to really pray. My husband and I prayed together, separately and fasted. The more I was in the presence of God concerning our "promotion", the more excited I became. In the flesh, I am not ready and I am scared out of my mind. In the Spirit, I am excited for the possibilities of what God has in store.

When my father asked me how I felt about it, I told him I am the Lord's hand-maiden. I think the attitude of Mary kind of summed it up. I am terrified but if this is God, then I am all about it! But last night as I was going to bed, I thought to myself, "Who am I?"

Who am I that I would even compare myself or situation to that of Mary's? I am not Catholic, but you must give the woman credit. She counted the cost for the immediate situation of becoming pregnant in exactly the worst time for an unwed woman to become pregnant. She was in a culture that looked down severely upon unwed mothers. She said, "I am the Lord's handmaiden" and she could have been stoned to death. I do not mean she could have smoked pot until she died, I mean that the men in town would have thrown rocks at her until her beaten body no longer could sustain life. (I am sure you know that!) I am sure Mary was in seclusion for the better part of her pregnancy. The only record we have of anyone being happy to see her pregnant was Elizabeth, her aunt. And her aunt was excited because Jesus' cousin, John the Baptist (the guy that would later baptize Jesus) was also in the womb and he jumped and jumped and Elizabeth knew that someone special had caused this excitement in her.

Then there is riding on a donkey 8 months and 3 weeks pregnant. The census called only for the household male to go. I understand that being pregnant makes one uncomfortable, even on a Lazy Boy or Postripedic bed, I am sure the donkey ride was painful to say the least. So why go through that pain? Was it more bearable than the pain of scorn of having a child in her small hometown without her husband present who isn't the father?

Mary probably counted these costs. I wonder if she could have foresaw the cost of having to leave her country to go to Egypt until the authorities in Jerusalem had died. For her child, she was in exile from the moment she became pregnant. I am sure there were blessings everyday for being the mother of Jesus. But then there is also the pain.

I have known mother's who have lost children at an age earlier than they would have liked. It rips them apart and they are no longer the woman they were when their child was living. And Mary's child was killed in the most violent, bloody, humiliating way possible. He didn't die for any reason that was his fault, he never in his life had done a single thing wrong. And yet her son from birth was killed magnificently and thoroughly before her eyes. The pain and cost of Mary's life was not something anyone would dare live up to. I can't imagine it was enjoyable for her. I am sure it was as painful for her as anyone who would have to live under such circumstances from her son's birth to his death and then live beyond that. (Although her son did rise from the dead, a definite blessing!)

And the point of all of this is to say that anyone who submits to God's will wholly and completely will never know the cost until they have lived through it. And yet, looking forward to the other side, even the resemblance of Mary's face on a piece of toast will fetch over $10,000. A whole denomination worships her and reveres her almost as much as Christ. And in Paradise, she will have a relationship with Jesus unlike any other. There are numerous prophets, teachers, priests, pastors, apostles, disciples and servants to God. And yet there was only one mother of God, for Jesus was God. She will hold a special position in heaven I think. What beautiful glory but what a painful life in the flesh.


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