Mary was the perfect mom, right?
It’s easy to put Mary on a pedestal…this fabulous virgin, chosen by God for the most important role in the history of the world…
But what if she was actually just a young woman…humble, imperfect, scared, and wondering how she could measure up?
I spent 13 years serving as a pastor at a church in Cleveland, Ohio where I was in charge of the marriage & family department. Through that role, I had the chance to connect with a number of moms to support them, encourage them, and help them talk through their fears, their struggles, and their insecurities.
And here is what I discovered: Every single one of them….myself included…no matter what their family upbringing was like or their current situation, no matter what they looked like or their age or background….every single one of them struggled to feel like they measured up.
There was always some standard, some expectation that was outside of their reach and they felt the weight of their own weaknesses and imperfections.
Just like I would imagine Mary felt when she found out she was about to conceive and give birth to God himself in the flesh.
But it’s not Mary that makes this story of encounter so incredible. It’s the way God interacts with Mary…through an angel…that is actually a powerful picture of how he views you and me. And it’s a message that we, as women, really need to know in the very fabric of our being.
So let’s take a look at these 6 Compelling Truths from Jesus’ Mom:
1. Everything starts with identity.
Luke 1:26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”[b] (NIV)
A lot of times we think of Mary as this perfect woman who never did anything wrong and so, on her own merit, God chose her….because she was “favored.” But the wording here in the original language doesn’t necessarily mean that Mary already was favored. It communicates that God bestowed favor on her. He CHOSE to call her favored, not because of who SHE was, but because of who HE IS.
God calls YOU favored one. It has nothing to do with how much you’ve managed to check off your to-do list and everything to do with HIS grace, willingly poured out over you.
Take a minute to breathe that truth in. Your identity is not based on what you’ve done or not done, how you measure up or don’t. It’s entirely based on who he is in you.
2. Fear is one of the biggest enemies we face.
Luke 1:29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. (NIV)
So much of what we do or don’t do is based on fear. We’re afraid for the well-being of our kids. We’re afraid of what others will think. We’re afraid of failure. Afraid it won’t be perfect. Afraid that if people REALLY knew us, they wouldn’t like us or that we’d be rejected or disqualified. Afraid we won’t measure up or be good enough. Or simply just afraid.
Fear attacks our identity. It holds us back from walking in what God created us to do and, more importantly, who he created us to be. For many of us, it is the #1 biggest thing standing between us and what we feel like we were made for.
At the beginning of 2020, I decided to start a podcast.
It took me MONTHS to record episode 1 of this podcast. I told myself it was because I was so busy. I told myself it was because I needed to plan it out. I told myself I didn’t have the right equipment. And a thousand other things.
But you know what was really going on? I was scared. Deep down I was struggling: What if I stink at podcasting? What if I’m boring? What if nobody cares what I have to say? What if people laugh at me? (Or worse, what if they DON’T laugh when I’m trying to make them laugh.) What if I’m just….not….good….enough?
I love the verse: 1 John 4:18 where it says “There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.”
How many times in our lives are we scared to do something and we think that courage is the answer? If we were just braver, stronger, better, THEN we could do it.
But what this verse shows us is that COURAGE is not the antidote to fear…love is.
Sometimes the solution to fear in your life is not more courage, but more love. Fear causes us to shrink back and disconnect. Love causes us to move in close and take risks.
Not letting yourself get stuck in fear starts with resting in God’s love. Letting yourself just BE in Him. Embracing the fact that he calls you favored one. It’s not because of anything you’ve done, but because he calls you his own.
And then, pushing past fear means asking yourself, “Where do I need to increase my love for others in this?”
When I finally launched the Family Culture podcast, it wasn’t because I suddenly became brave. It’s because I remembered the reason I wanted to start it in the first place: love.
Over the years, I’ve talked to so many people who are struggling to create a healthy family culture because they weren’t raised that way. The desire to provide practical help and life-giving encouragement is what ultimately drove me to push past my own fears and insecurities and just do it.
Where is fear holding you back right now? Don’t wait for the courage you think you need. Focus on increasing your love for the people who need what you have to offer.
3. You were created to carry something.
Luke 1: 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (NIV)
The angel delivers this giant destiny for Mary’s life. “Hey, you’re going to carry someone who will transform the world.” (my paraphrase) No pressure or anything.
God is the one who gives us our purpose, our destiny. His dreams for your life are even bigger than you could dream for yourself.
When my oldest daughter, Gwen, was just 2 years old, she loved books. One time, we were about to hop in the car to go somewhere, so I asked her to go pick out a book to bring with us to help keep her occupied.
I was thinking she’d get Goodnight Moon or something like that. Well, she disappeared for a minute and then re-emerged with the BIOGRAPHY of STEVE JOBS! She’s lugging this giant, 656 page book to take with us on our 15 minute car ride.
That’s what it feels like sometimes to carry your calling.
You’re just going about your life and you’re like, okay God, what is it you have for me? What’s my destiny? Goodnight Moon? I think I can totally do that.
But then he hands you this 656 biography of a tech giant and you’re like, “Wait, what???”
God hasn’t called you to carry some tiny, manageable assignment in your life. He created you to carry something much bigger than that. Something that probably feels bigger than you….heavier than you can carry.
Sometimes that assignment looks different in each season that you’re in. Your biggest God-given assignment right now may be raising your kids and loving your family well. And there is NOTHING more important to God’s heart than loving his kids well.
Or maybe it’s a business you know you need to start or a book you need to write or people you need to reach.
Whatever it is, some days it just feels like it’s bigger than anything you can carry alone.
And that’s probably true.
4. If what God is calling you to do feels completely beyond you, good. It’s supposed to.
I love how Mary responds to this huge assignment…
34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”[c]
She’s basically saying, “Excuse me, what? This is not technically even possible, so how should I expect this to happen?” (my paraphrase)
You weren’t given a tiny, easy assignment. It’s going to feel huge and scary and that’s okay.
What’s hard is, sometimes you finally start to embrace what God has given to you and then you have people in your life who are like, “Whoa, you’re trying to carry THAT? There’s no way. I think you’re more of a Goodnight Moon kind of girl. Why don’t you just set down that giant book and walk away?”
But here’s why you can’t walk away…
5. It’s not YOUR strength that will make it happen.
Luke 1:35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[d] will be holy; he will be called Son of God.
You can’t just walk away because you were created to carry something — someone. You were created to be a carrier of the presence of God. You were created to bear the image of God.
And everything that you are called to DO…from raising a family to impacting the world and everything in between…it all flows out who you ARE as a daughter of God. The more you carry his presence, the more all those other things will fall into place.
But you can’t give away what you don’t have, which means that sometimes the #1 most productive thing you can do in this season is to connect with God. To lean into God’s heart. To rest in him. To let him remind you that you are radically, ridiculously loved and unconditionally accepted. That you are not alone. That who you are is enough.
The more you know who you truly are in Christ (identity), the more you will rest in Him fully, and the more you will truly carry what you were created to carry first and foremost – Him.
That huge, 656 page book that is your destiny was never meant for you to carry alone. No, you are partnering with the Creator of the Universe. He’s not giving you an assignment and walking away and saying, “Good luck. We’ll see how it goes.”
No, he’s saying, “I will be there with you to carry this. We will do it together.”
Then it says…
36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”
God is the one who breathes life and supplies what you need for what He has called you to do. It’s not your burden to carry.
Perfection is not yours to carry. Being good enough isn’t yours to carry. Getting enough done is not yours to carry.
You get to carry God’s love and presence instead.
6. Your Job is to Say Yes.
This is my favorite verse of this whole passage and it perfectly embodies the 6th and final truth we’re looking at today:
Luke 1:38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
There it is. The biggest, most important destiny ever handed out in the history of mankind and Mary’s job was to say YES.
That’s it. The hard part is already done.
Our culture wants us to think that we have to “hustle” to find value. We have to check things off a list to be good enough. We have to have our kids in sports and music and dance and all this stuff to give them the best life, but they are MISSING THE POINT.
The price of measuring up to perfection has already been paid. You are cleared. You are washed clean. You are forgiven and set free. All you have to do now is say YES to God.
If this year has shown us anything, it’s that we don’t have control over circumstances. The only thing we can control is how we respond to what happens to us.
What would happen if you said yes?
Maybe you don’t know all the details or how it’s going to happen. Maybe you still feel kind of afraid. Maybe you don’t even know why you were chosen, but what if you said yes anyway?
I want to encourage you, as you celebrate Christmas this year, instead of getting sucked into the swirl of expectations and stuff and checklists and trying to DO enough and PRODUCE enough and BE enough…just step back for a minute and take a deep breath…and say yes to him.
- He calls you favored one.
- Fear’s got nothing on you.
- You were created to carry something.
- It’s bigger than you could even dream.
- It’s not your strength that will do it.
- Your job is simply to say yes.
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