by Greg Teel, Calvary Baptist Church, Delta, CO
For many of us, the Christmas season is a rush of overwhelming activities and demands. We get so busy with our plans – hurried souls we are – that we fail to see what God sees. Noah BenShea writes, “It’s the space between the notes that makes the music.” It is in the space of our souls that God writes his music. The spiritual disciplines, or exercises of grace, are how God writes his music.
Mother Mary was a peasant Jewish girl from a backwater town that suddenly had her busy plans of a wonderful wedding interrupted. The angel Gabriel appeared to her and told her she was favored to carry and mother the Christ Child, even as a virgin. What was her reaction? Not to be angry, disgruntled, or anxious about the change in her plans. She would have been justifiably worried about how her parents, future in-laws, and betrothed Joseph would take the new reality. In fact, she was in danger of potentially being shunned from her community. Yet, what does she do? What is her instant reaction? According to the Luke 1, Mary worshiped God. She glorified God for his interruption. She set aside her desires and plans for the Lord’s.
Now people usually do what they feel most comfortable doing and have done in the past to deal with stress. Mary was suddenly stressed now. Her fallback? Mary engages in the spiritual exercise that she always did and knew that drew her close to God – worship. She worships God for what he has done and for what he will do. She worships God mostly for his goodness, personal care, and power in the interruptions in her life. Read Luke 1:46-55 to see her praises for yourself.
What will you and I do in our interruptions? As the Christmas season rushes to a close, and the New Year approaches with all its challenges, ones we will be suddenly, brutally confronted with without warning, will we have a Mary heart? Will we praise God for what he will do in our newfound challenges? Will we praise him for his perfect character working itself out on our behalf, even when we do not understand or see what God is doing?
To praise him for what he will do is to declare that he knows better than I do, what is best for my life and for others in my sphere of influence. It is the heart of faith. This is the path of Mary and her son Jesus. Both exhibit this trust and complete surrender to the will of God during their life challenges and struggles. Both worship God and submit their wills to God’s will knowing that he is in charge and looking out for their best interest. Will we also worship God in the middle of our sudden, unforeseen suffering or other struggles in the New Year?
Let’s continue through this Christmas and New Year season developing a Mary heart. How can we do that? By practicing the spiritual discipline of Mary and Jesus – worship. Try practicing the following:
- Write out your own song of praise to God for what he has shown himself to do in your life. Thank him for his great faithfulness in the past and keep an eye to the future blessings of God in your life. Say, sing, or write it out daily for one week as an act of praise.
- Read Revelation 19-22, one chapter a day for a week. In these chapters we see God’s plan, his redemptive historical plan, fulfilled and consummated. Notice and praise him for everything he will make right and whole. Praise him for the ushering in of his kingdom with the Advent of Christ. On Friday, journal about what you cannot wait to experience personally at this fulfillment.
- Choose one of the worst experiences in your life and ask God to show you where and how he was HUGE during it. Praise God in prayer, in singing, and journal specifically how God worked to support and strengthen you during that awful time. He will see you through new challenges also.