in the bible there are four gospels. each gospel tells similar versions of the same collection of stories. some gospels don't have certain stories, some conflict in their respective versions of stories. but they each have stories. i love the gospels because of their narrative. i love the gospels because every time i read it, it's a new story. and every time i read it, it is truly good news.
one of my favorite stories in the gospel is about mary, the mother of jesus. an angel named gabriel comes to mary in the middle of the night and basically shatters her entire world. here's the biblical version, found in luke:
"in the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. the angel went to her and said, 'Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.' Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.' 'How will this be,' Mary asked the angel, 'since I am a virgin?' The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.' 'I am the Lord's servant,' Mary answered. 'May it be to me as you have said.' Then the angel left her.' luke 1:26-38
my initial thought as i read this particular story goes a little bit like this: "um...excuse me. what?" i mean, let's be real. this angel just came and flipped mary's world upside down. her entire frame of reference is doing an about-face and she doesn't have a long list of questions? she doesn't cry? she doesn't freak out? she is betrothed to be married to a man who believes she is a virgin. and she still is, but that one's going to be hard to explain to him, what with the soon-to-be protruding bump. plus, her family will be so confused. virgin birth wasn't exactly a known condition back then, and a baby born out of wedlock was typically looked down upon. she had a reputation to maintain. she had a life plan. God has this awesome tendency to show up and ruin our plans.
then i re-read the story, and i find an entire different meaning. and my new thought is this: i want to live like mary. i want to live like mary. this angel came to her and was like, "look mary. got some news. good and bad. what do you want first? the bad? okay. you're knocked up. no...i know, i know you didn't....yes, i'm sure. and yes, i know it's going to be hard. it's going to be really hard. it's going to be really tough. people won't believe you, and your reputation might be ruined. you might lose friends, you might lose hope. it will be painful, it will be confusing. but mary, get this. here's the good news: you have the future of the world inside of you. he is going to save us all. every time he moves inside of you, remember that his hands are going to bring healing. every time he cries, remember that his word will be lamp to guide our paths. and every time you watch him sleep, remember that he is hope. trust me on this; you do not want to miss this opportunity. it's gonna be awesome." and she nods her head. in humble obedience.
i think that at least one point in our lives, God pulls us aside and whispers in our ear with some news that flips everything out of focus. i think he gently tells us that something big is about to happen. and yes, he knows, he knows we didn't do anything wrong or bad to earn ourselves into our current standing. i think he finds favor in us, his creation. and that's kinda cool. and he knows it's going to be hard, he knows it's going to be tough. but we have the future of the world inside of us. we have the power of jesus tickling our tummies and reminding us to be his hands, be his feet, be his love, to tell everyone about hope. there is nothing we can do to earn his love any more, and there is nothing we can do to lose it. he just asks that we follow. in humble obedience.
yeah, i want to live like mary.