First of all, let me say a hearty merry Christmas to every reader! What is a “hearty merry Christmas” anyway? Does it mean it comes from the heart? Does it mean it s a robust rendering of the phrase? Maybe it means I wish you big meals or a large share of the sleigh under your tree? Or does it mean I wish for really good things to be happening inside your heart?
I wish all of the above for you, with the possible exception of the large share of the sleigh…and I wish you that, too, if you could turn around and use material blessings for His glory. I wish for all of us, His ultimate glory now and throughout 2013.
2013.Unbelievable the way the years have whizzed by to bring us well into the second decade of this century. It truly seems like only a few sleeps ago that we were reading (on our large desktops) about the need for collecting lots of water and unusual sources of electricity—even family disaster plans –for that midnight when the calendar would make the complete roll into the 21st century. Yet, here we are. We are different. The post 2001 world will never be quite the same, but, for the most part, our fears and hopes, at least as Christians, remain unchanged.
I must pause to mention here that I am deeply grateful to those of you (and it is many of you) who participated in the Encouragement Tree. There are 10 ladies who are facing amazing challenges right now who are going to be mightily blessed when they open up those envelopes and read those emails. Thanks especially to the entire congregations of ladies, like those in Hiram, Georgia and Jackson, Tennessee and others, who made it a holiday project to give this precious gift. I can hardly wait to deliver the notes. I hope to have this done in the next few days. Thanks for being the kind of women you are.
Next, may I encourage you to press forward in the Digging Deep study. I am hearing almost daily from women who are tempted by the busy-ness of the holiday season to throw in the towel. May I encourage you to stay the course? Of course, there is no personal benefit that I gain from your continuing, except for the large one of encouragement. My benefit comes from my own study. I want this for each of you, too. We can make the church better and stronger if we, as His women, are in the Word. But you already know that. Keep plugging along. Sanctified women are in the Word. If you’re not in this study, study the Word every day, anyway!
Lastly, may I leave you with something I’ve been pondering a lot lately. I guess it’s just that we hear so much about the virgin birth at this time of the year. But I have been thinking about which of the teen or twenties girls that I know might be chosen to “host” the Son of God in her womb if He were coming to earth today?
First, she was a virgin. Are we raising our girls to remain virgins? How many of the young ladies in our congregations might be eliminated right at the get-go merely because, if they were chosen, the birth would not be a virgin birth. I don’t believe Mary was the kind of girl who was flaunting her body in tight or skimpy clothing, using suggestive language or reading stories that were salacious. If the angel was coming to talk to your daughter, is there a chance he would find her watching a movie with a questionable rating or filthy communication? Might he find her “hugged up” in a dark spot somewhere with a boyfriend who is fondling her body? Do you even communicate about these matters with her? Perhaps many of our girls would not be chosen today because we are so inept as parents in preparing them to remain virgins through the years before marriage.
Mary had a humble heart. She classified herself as the handmaiden of the Lord. Would our daughters be eliminated because they do not have humble hearts of submission and service? Have they bought into the lie of the devil that childrearing and hard work and service in the home is somehow “beneath them’? Are they more concerned about making sure they don’t have to do more than their “fair share” of housework and childcare or more concerned that they become Titus 2 women? If so, I believe they are lacking in the “handmaiden” quality that was vital to Mary’s character.
Mary had become espoused to a man of honor. I believe a godly earthly father was essential in the planning of Jesus’ incarnation. What kind of ideals are we putting in the hearts of our girls with regard to the men they aspire to marry? Do we like it when they date popular people or do we require from early ages that they seek pious men? Good-looking or just good. Rich in money or rich toward God? What are we doing to put God in their future homes through the mates they will seek? Are we covering this in our daily family Bible times? Someone had raised a Mary who was happy to be espoused to faithful Joseph who, being a man of honor, was minded to put her away privately until he learned of her innocence and purity.
I think it’s important for us as moms to consider the heart of Mary. It was Mary’s heart, not her womb, that was most vital as her temple was selected. It’s also essential to remember that Mary was human. She made mistakes and repented. She sometimes misspoke and she had thoughts that were inappropriate. She was redeemed at Calvary just like you and me. But the price, for her, was the blood of her own Son. Just profound.
But when we think of her humanity, let’s not forget that she was chosen to give birth to the Divine. My daughter will not be chosen to bring God to earth. But she can be chosen to bring him to people. She can be chosen to bear His gospel–His good news of peace on earth–to those who still need it desperately. But to effectively bear him, she must have the heart of Mary: pure and humble and she must respect her Joseph. I pray that she continues to be that kind of woman.