The angel brought shattering news. Life as she had planned it, as she had dreamed it, was over. For the virgin betrothed to be married, the news couldn’t be any more amazing. How did she explain? How did she make sense of this news? She was to give birth to something God conceived, and she did not have any way to explain her part in the story. “He will overshadow you” the angel Gabriel said (Luke 1:35). Indeed.
Life would never be the same. Others would question her, doubt her, look down on her. Her relationships would be altered, her marriage put in jeopardy, her friendships shaken. The people around her would hold on to their memory of this time, not only because she was pregnant before marriage, but because of her story around it. An angel, a promise, new life.
But God… He conceived this life. Her part was to nurture and protect it, to feed it and let it grow until it came forth in its own time. She and God alone shared the secret of this new life. I imagine she leaned into Him in prayer, in faith, in hope even as she struggled to make sense of her circumstances. There is a certain dignity that comes from knowing that even if no one else believes, I know what I know. I imagine Mary walked with this kind of dignity.
As I come to the Christmas story this year, I am thinking a lot about creativity, calling, and things birthed in relationship with the Almighty. I’ve struggled this year to articulate the things I am nurturing and growing inside my life. Things that make no sense in the world around me, but seem to be part of the essence of who I am.
I don’t always have words to wrap around my experience of calling, a need to serve, to pour out the love and grace poured into my life. I can’t always explain why I am compelled to press forward, to get in the fray, to leave no one behind. I’ve wrestled with God about where He is leading, and He continually calls me back to simple obedience and rest. He will bring forth the things He has conceived in me. My job is to feed it, nurture it, and protect it. Even when I can’t explain it.
So I keep at it, I keep writing, making time for ministry, making time for people. I continue to press forward to make a difference in my little corner of the world, even when it doesn’t seem to matter. I see the swirl around my life, questions and doubts that I don’t have words to explain. Sometimes, this sense of calling shakes relationships, friendships, and my place in community. My motives, or confidence is questioned, doubted. Some struggle to fit me into pre-made boxes. I will leave the results to Him, and simply try and do the next right thing. To do it with great love. To do it will a little humility.
Once a long time ago, as I was just beginning in ministry a friend cautioned me to hold a part of myself, my heart, back from the crowds. A part of me that was only for relationship with Him. That was good advice. It allows me to walk with a certain kind of dignity, even when I don’t know where I am going.
Question: What new idea, dream, project, goal is growing inside you in this season? What are you doing to protect and nurture it?