Helping women live victorious lives in Christ

Archive for December, 2013

Reflections on Mary

This Christmas, I’ve been thinking a lot about Mary, the mother of our Savior. What must have gone through her mind when the angel Gabriel visited her? What can we learn from this teenage girl whom God gave such a tremendous responsibility?

Mary willingly said yes to God’s assignment
When we read the dialogue between Mary and Gabriel, there is no hesitation on Mary’s part. She does wonder how a virgin will conceive and give birth, but she doesn’t doubt that it can be accomplished. We don’t see her asking Gabriel to give her a few days to think and pray about it, or to talk to other people to get their opinions. In essence, she says, “whatever you say, I’ll do.” How many of us can step right into God’s assignment for you with full trust and no hesitation?

Mary sacrificed her own comfort and security for a greater cause
At the time of this life-changing encounter with Gabriel, Mary was betrothed to Joseph. They were practically married, so I’m sure you can understand the excitement and anticipation she felt preparing to be Joseph’s wife.  In the midst of this special time of her life, Gabriel comes and changes everything! She’s going to be pregnant outside of wedlock, and it wouldn’t be Joseph’s baby! Her fairy-tale betrothal and marriage were quickly fading away, and she could be faced with all the law prescribed for a fornicator. Despite this, she still says “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38)

Mary faced difficulties throughout her life
Being the mother of our Lord had to come with some challenges. Based on the message she received from Gabriel, she realized that she was the vessel through which the Messiah would come. She also recognized that Jesus would not be an average son. I can imagine she asked these questions in her heart: Would he get married? Will I have the blessing of grandchildren through him? Would he be there for me in my old age? Every mother wants her child to live a long life, and does not want to even consider the thought of his life being cut short, but that would not be the case for Mary with her first born.  As she faced difficulties and uncertainties in her life, Mary serves as an example for all mothers and all women.

What were the results of Mary’s sacrifice? Because Mary said yes, because she was willing to sacrifice her own comfort and security, we have access to eternal life through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Her ruined betrothal and wedding and her public humiliation afforded us the opportunity to be reconciled back to God. She willingly accepted a difficult and uncertain life so that she could be used mightily by God. While we do not worship her, we honor her and are grateful to her for what she chose to do.

Is God calling you to do a hard thing? How could it benefit others? Like Mary, are you willing to sacrifice your goals and dreams to be fully yielded to God’s will?

 

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One Day at a Time

 

I am a planner. I enjoy having a detailed outline of what I want to accomplish for any given day or week. I tend to look weeks and months ahead and have a general idea of where I’m going. Running two businesses, being involved in church and civic activities and going back to school necessitates that I use my time wisely so that I can do everything that needs to get done. However, I’m in a season of life right now where my planning skills really cannot be used. I’m waiting for God to resolve certain things in my life, and until He provides these answers, I cannot do my usual planning and outlining. How do I feel about this? What is God trying to teach me in this season of no clear direction?

To answer the first question, I feel unnerved and uncomfortable. I want to be able to say with some certainty that I’ll be able to participate in such-and-such activity in a couple of months, but right now I just can’t do that. I’m in a position right now where I can’t say with any clarity what will be happening in my life even over the next couple of weeks. I’ve never been in this position before and frankly, I don’t like it!

Look at what the word of God says in James chapter 4, starting at verse 13:

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

Who are we to say what we will do next week, next month or next year? Who’s sovereign, us or God? James says our lives are but a vapor. So because of that, when we make plans, we make them in light of what God says and not in light of what we say or think. We preface our plans with “if it’s the Lord’s will,” keeping in mind that He can do whatever He wants to do (or not). And we rest in the fact that even though we don’t have all the answers and can’t see a clear path, we trust the One who can see the end from the beginning. We trust God’s sovereignty and His omniscience. We believe in His omnipresence and His omnipotence. That is what God is trying to teach me in this time…to rest in Him, to truly abide in Him.

So, right now I’m working on putting down my planner’s notebook, pen, and calendar. I’m asking God to help me be content in this suspended state I find myself in. And I’m being reminded that God is still God, even in the midst of questions with no answers. And I am, literally, taking life one day at a time.

The Freedom of Forgiveness

 

As I begin write this, the entire world is mourning the passing of Nelson Mandela. After months of illness, Mr. Mandela has passed away at age 95. News outlets show picture after picture of Mr. Mandela from his days as an activist against the apartheid regime, to his lengthy imprisonment, to his release from prison in 1990, to the impact he had a president of South Africa, and finally to his days as an elder statesman. Even in old age and illness, there was still something about this man that draws people to him. There was a glow, a light that emanates from his very soul. Where does someone who has suffered immeasurable injustice, not only against him, but all who are like him, get this light, the glow? What is its source?

The answer I believe is the freedom found in forgiveness. Mr. Mandela was someone who chose to forgive those who for decades have wronged him.  He did not seek retribution, and encouraged others to live the same way.  He released those who persecuted him.  And this release brought about his freedom, even while he was still physically in bondage.

Although I’ve never had the opportunity to visit Robbins Island where he was imprisoned for 27 years, I can only imagine what it must have been like to be subjected to such harsh treatment for about a third of his life, the prime years of his life.  But Mr. Mandela made the conscious decision to forgive, the process of which is not easy, and did not allow anger and bitterness to entrap him.  Anger and bitterness are traps that keep one bound and unable to live fully, traps of the enemy of our souls – Satan, traps that the enemy tries to use to prevent you from walking into the calling on your life. 

How could Mr. Mandela display such a beautiful smile, having experienced such a difficult life? How do 95 year old eyes still twinkle? How can joy and peace emanate from someone who has experienced trials many of us will never have to encounter?  Freedom allows joy and peace to shine through a person, without that person having to even say a word. And forgiveness is what brings about this freedom.

The Bible instructs us to forgive as God has forgiven you.  If you have unforgiveness in your heart, go to God’s word and learn what He expects of us regarding forgiveness (Matthew chapter 6:14-15 and Colossians 3:13 are just a few scriptures).  In her book “The Power of Forgiveness,” Joyce Meyer says, “Wounded emotions can become a prison that locks us into our pain and keep others out.” Confess the sin of unforgiveness, then ask God to give you the freedom that comes with forgiveness.  He is standing ready to release you today!  He will do it!