Last year, as 2010 was quickly coming to a close, I set aside a specific time to pray for people, their needs, the miracles they were seeking, etc. While praying for them, I felt the Lord give a me a word for my life. That word was preparation (click on the word to check out last year’s blog). I did not know what exactly that was going to look like in my life. I think part of me thought this would be a beautiful thing. You know, fun, dandy – getting ready for an adventure. I am not so sure when that word was given, I thought about how much work, time, tears, effort, energy would go forth from me.
I think of Mary when I think about the word, preparation. God sent an angel to prepare her for what was about to happen.
“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 conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him 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 Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:28-33
I am not sure Mary was prepared for the abrupt arrival of the angel. In all honesty, I am not sure I would be, either. The Bible says Mary was troubled. Yet, she listened t God’s message. She did not run, kick, rebuke or hide from what God had planned for her. Instead, she humbly and honorably replied:
“I am the Lord’s servant, Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.” Luke 1:38
I was not Mary, so my thoughts are merely that, thoughts. But can you honestly imagine being told you would birth the Messiah? Really think about that. The angel came and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored. The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28) Now do not get me wrong, those are words I long to hear when I am in Jesus presence. But, as a mere human being, I can only imagine the surprise, yet elation, of this news. Wonder what she was thinking? ….I am going to be the mother of the Messiah. God chose me. Or was she afraid, terrified of shame and humiliation? Did she feel elated and ashamed? Was she prepared?
Preparation is defined as the action of making ready or being made ready for use; something done in order to get ready for an event.
That was Mary. She was being prepared for the birth of a baby, but not just any baby, the Messiah. I wonder as she birthed him, if she ever thought about the heartache that might one day come. I wonder if as she nursed her baby, his skin pressed on hers and she admired his soft skin, cuddled him close to her heart and met his needs, that one day he would be crucified. I wonder as she watched her toddler playing with a ball and totting to and fro, if she realized one day he would need help carrying a cross to Calvary. I just wonder.
What prepared Mary’s heart, a mom, to witness one of the most horrific acts in history? How did she live each day of her life to prepare her, so that she did not die of a broken heart, watching her son hang from a wooden cross? Unthinkable circumstances, yet an unshakable faith.
As I prayed last year, God gave me the word preparation.
I was elated. I thought of all the good God was preparing for me to set forth and do. It wasn’t until September 2011, that I realized there was a flip side to preparation. The ugly and not so pleasant circumstances in our lives also prepare us. I thought of preparations as fun, thought provoking, list writing and enjoyable. I missed in my small brain the flip side.
This year, God prepared me. He prepared me for new ideas and new adventures. He prepared me for future endeavors. He also prepared me for difficult situations, growth, personal reflection, drive to change and responses to unwelcomed circumstances. He has been at work in me, preparing me for events, making me ready for use. It has not been in all the ways I thought, but it has all been in relation to his ultimate plan and purpose for my life.
Like Mary, a mom who bore a child who she knew was the Messiah and all the great things he would come to be in their lifetime, she thought of her son being the one who set the people free! When Jesus was presented at the temple, a man named Simeon was there. He knew that he would see the Messiah before he died. That day at the temple he did. He held the child, praised God and then spoke to his parents. Do you think Mary was prepared for all she heard?
“The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Luke 2:33-35
Pierce my soul? Pierce my soul? I can only imagine those words ringing in her head and penetrating her heart. Pierce my soul? What do yo mean pierce my soul? I birthed the Messiah! I am highly favored, the angel said so! Pierce my soul? I imagine those words would hang in her mama heart and mind. Words that she may have asked God to explain in her prayers. I can only project my humanness as a mom and how I would feel. Pierce my soul? That is my son! God protect him! He is your son too!
Yet, we all know the ending. As precious and liberating the gift of accepting what Jesus did for us on the cross,and without it, we would be eternally separated from God forever; we cannot dismiss the fact that Mary was human and as another human who is a mother, I can only think about her heart. Her son, the Messiah, the one who came to save. She was the chosen one to carry him. How prepared was her heart to watch him to be beaten, battered, bruised, nailed to a cross to die. My heart breaks to think about moms who lose their children. My heart aches for those who just want to hold them one more time, touch their face and kiss their cheek. I cannot imagine the pain of living out that nightmare.
What are we doing to prepare ourselves for God’s will to be done on this earth? Are we storing up treasures in heaven? Are we hiding his words in our heart? Are we seeking his divine wisdom and knowledge? Are we growing and learning, changing and reflecting from circumstances that cause our hearts to ache, our minds to race and our reactions to pause?
Lord prepare us! Lord help us to make ways in our set minds to change so that we may respond how you would have us to do! Help mold us to be the person YOU NEED to carry out YOUR WORK. May we remember it is all about you and your plan; we are simply the servants, the vessels who illuminate you to the dark world. Let the tough stuff of life not weigh us down, send us to our graves with heavy hearts and bowed heads, but instead, let it propel us to continue your work. Let it prepare us, no matter how tough and hard it is, to carry on.
Prepare my heart God.
May we be a people who embrace each moment, not as a curse, but as a time when God prepares us for something that is yet to come.
“My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is steadfast and confident! I will sing and make melody. Awake, my glory (my inner self); awake, harp and lyre! I will awake right early [I will awaken the dawn]. I will praise and give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to You among the nations. For Your mercy and loving-kindness are great, reaching to the heavens, and Your truth and faithfulness to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be over all the earth.” Psalm 57:7-11