As I spend this festive period utterly exhausted running round after an energetic toddler, I am often finding my thoughts turning to Mary. Time and again I’ve found myself coming back to consider this courageous follower of God who once chased round on hands and knees after a toddler named Jesus.
As a teenager, she was met by an angel bringing the message of God, telling her that she would bear his son. This message threw her whole future into a spiral. What would it mean for her future marriage to Joseph? For her safety – in a culture that would, at best, ostracise an unmarried pregnant woman and, at worst, kill her? What would it mean for her child? A child who had an identity, a calling and a purpose beyond her imagination, but that she would spend years nurturing, feeding, clothing, teaching, and loving.
The more I’ve reflected on Mary, the more I feel challenged about living a life of slow, courageous obedience.
It’s easy to read the nativity story, and indeed the gospels, and miss the slow passing of time. It takes just a few sentences to narrate the long, possibly sickness, tiredness and fear-filled, 9 months of Mary’s pregnancy. Barely a couple of stories, to coast through, thirty years of committed and costly parenting and love. And a few sentences of acknowledgement to describe the agony of standing in front of the cross watching the son, whom she had loved for 33 years, be tortured and die.
Slow, courageous obedience.
Not a dramatic, fast, fame-making whirlwind.
Not a short burst of faith filled endurance.
But an entire adult life time of spending her existence on behalf of Jesus, the son she bore and nurtured and loved, and the son she knew would always have a calling and identity far beyond being ‘hers’.
Day after day of obedient motherhood in response to the calling of God.
A life expended on behalf of Jesus’ calling, his fame, his glory, his purpose, his well-being.
In the midst of the chaos of present buying and preparing for the fun and joy of Christmas, every time I catch a glimpse of Mary, it causes me to pause and to dwell on a truly uncomfortable and challenging question – could I even begin to spend my whole life the same way? In slow, courageous obedience to loving Jesus and serving his call? And what would it look like to start doing just that today?