Saturday, December 19, 2009

Making a list and checking it twice

Today’s Reading: Luke 1:49 NIV

49 For the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is His name.

Good morning!

I’ve been making a list and checking it twice but it is not the list I presume you are thinking of. Year end is a time to close out the old and ring in the new. We assess and review our lives and whether we’ve reached the goals we set out to achieve twelve months ago. Many Americans make New Years resolutions: to break some old, bad habit and strive for greater achievement in the upcoming year. We take stock of the events that had life-altering consequences for our families, and we find overwhelming joy in affirming our blessings. My personal list looks very different from years past, and I confess that I am more than ready to set this year behind me and embrace a brand new season with hope. Adversity will either leave a bitter taste in your mouth, or it can bring you great joy. How you embrace the life you’ve been given is a choice that only you can make.

Mary certainly had some adversity going on in her young life! She had just become engaged to a wonderful man. What an exciting and hopeful time! Just when things seemed to be coming together as she had planned, Mary had a very unusual visitation; an angel proclaiming that God had chosen her to carry and bear His only Son, the long-awaited Messiah. When Mary realized she was part of a far greater plan than her own, she immediately embraced this daunting task, unwavering in faith and bright hope for a new tomorrow. I cannot imagine how absolutely confused and terrified I would have been, if God had sent an angel with a message like that to me. I would have asked the Father for five minutes, to create a quick Excel spreadsheet on my I-Phone, outlining the pros and cons of His master plan in colorful bar graphs before I gave Him my final answer. I have a nasty little habit of trying over analyze everything. Let’s take a closer look at Mary’s situation: Being pregnant outside of marriage would potentially end her engagement to Joseph. He would no longer trust her; how would she convince Joe that she had not been unfaithful? Her parents would reject her, casting her out from the only family she knew and loved. Mary faced probable death as the standard punishment for her unplanned pregnancy, especially if Joseph chose to publicly condemn her. Mary had every reason to be scared; yet, she trusted the Father enough to know whatever her circumstance, He would be there to see her through it. She was more than willing; in fact, Mary praised the Lord for the great things He has done!

Mary’s song of praise, also known as the Magnificat, has been sung in our churches for many years. Her words have inspired great hymns and choral works, heard every year, especially at Christmas. Mary made an instantaneous decision to glorify God for His great work, and praised Him for what He would do in and through her humble heart. She embraced His will with such passion, that it makes me feel so ashamed every time God calls me and I hesitate. Mary seemed to care very little about any potential judgment or personal suffering she might endure. Her only desire was to please the Father and walk in obedience to His will for her life. Her happiness and joy is more than apparent in her words, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant.” Luke 1:46-48a NIV.

This is a great weekend to praise God for all He has and continues to do in your life! Have you made your list and checked it twice? Do not miss a great opportunity to personally thank Him today. There is a celebration happening right now – folks are preparing to welcome a brand new day. Won’t you take some time this weekend to come and worship the Savior with me? Come and hear the sweet music ringing around the world, as we marvel at Mary’s unwavering devotion to the Father, and the miracle child, who is coming very, very soon. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO


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