Does Mary do a Touchdown Dance?

I still remember blocking Steve’s spike in the final round of the volleyball tournament at our youth group summer camp. He had been the pastor of our group for seven years several years prior, had raised children, and was attending as our speaker for the week. Yet, in that moment of athletic glory, my 17-year-old soul found itself rocketed to yet-unknown bastions of satisfaction. I’d blocked Steve. I’m sure I went to sleep that night smiling.

It’s sad that I still remember that. It’s sad how proud I was of myself. Mary carried the Christ to term and what was her response?

46 And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord, 

47  and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 

48  for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. 

For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 

49  for he who is mighty has done great things for me, 

and holy is his name. 

50  And his mercy is for those who fear him 

from generation to generation. 

51  He has shown strength with his arm; 

he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 

52  he has brought down the mighty from their thrones 

and exalted those of humble estate; 

53  he has filled the hungry with good things, 

and the rich he has sent away empty. 

54  He has helped his servant Israel, 

in remembrance of his mercy, 

55  as he spoke to our fathers, 

to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” 

56 And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home. 

She starts by saying how good God has been to her and continues by forgetting herself completely. Now, it’s nice of NFL players to point a finger up to God, but what’s really going on their hearts? Honestly, what’s going on in my heart when I come down from a clear, emotive, verbose sermon? I’m usually proud of myself.

Yet, how gracious is our God? How good has He been to us? How good is He without even considering His action toward us in particular?

Oh, that my soul would magnify the Lord. My heart is going to need some rewiring, some reprogramming, some regeneration for this, but even that, the Lord will provide. God, clean us up, not that we would walk away independent, but that we would more clearly reflect your glory.

Don’t Be Too Proud to Exclaim

From working with high school students, I’ve learned that it’s rare to find a set of teenage siblings who are audibly proud of their parents. Put to it, many likely are, but usually competition between them drowns out any parental adoration. It would be a striking thing if a family were different. It would be a striking thing if our family, the household of God, were different. Look at the way Elizabeth responds to Mary:

Luke 1:39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

Now, to tell you the truth it’s unclear to me how the Holy Spirit is working in Elizabeth. Does he “take her over” in a way as unique as He helps her conceive John? Does the Spirit fill and influence her in the same way He fills and influences me? Either way, she responds by His power and we can trust that what she says to Mary is an accurate reflection of how God wants His children to respond to His gifts.

Elizabeth isn’t competing with Mary. “Of course,” you may reply, “why would they compete about babies given from God?” For the same reason that we compete over the gifts that God has given us: money, talent, relationships, opportunities. Elizabeth, the older relative, carrying a child of unquestioned legitimacy, respected in the community, exclaims that she is blessed that Mary would even visit her.

Don’t wait for a virgin birth to stand in awe of God’s generosity around us. Don’t wait for the supernatural to marvel at His grace to involve you in it. What have you or I done to be faithful, to be fruitful, to be alive? We’ve done nothing; we simply have an  amazing Heavenly Father.

Exclaim today. Exclaim like Elizabeth. It is no concern to her whether anyone notices how much God is blessing the world through her. Instead, she declares praise to God and lavishes encouragement on Mary (who’s had a tough go of it in her gossip-laden hometown), without self-regard. In your sphere, are there brothers or sisters in Christ who you often compete with? Consider the ways that God is blessing the world through them and how you can respond with the Elizabeth’s humility.

Omnipotence

Omnipotence

A wispy dandelion seed aloft,
Two twirls, a dip, and rising up again,
Now tossed in tempest–at dawn laid down soft’
There placed by hands Divine. The same the rain
And currents writhing, tides, they smother coasts,
While lumb’ring waves of atoms trek
Across the blue. The deeps boast
In vain. Almighty moves them all. A speck
Afloat upon the pet, the sea’s wee flea.
And piloting the pest, a man alone.
The rudder snaps and suddenly he sees
The might of God far dwarfs what has been shown.
No good has come apart from Him and hence
We think in awe on His omnipotence.