Tested, Flawless, Faithful: The Joy of Mary

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I love Mary’s prophetic song, often called The Magnificat. I love it so much that one day while I was listening to Bach’s setting of her words recorded in the book of Luke I was so overcome with joy I had to stop the car and get out to walk around a park beside the highway and give God my praise.

There’s a story behind this. One day, about ten or eleven years ago, after I decided to pursue a goal of knowing God better, I suddenly felt very drowsy. I took a nap on the sofa. Immediately I was in a dream.

In the dream I was struggling to speak. I felt the pressure of words building up inside me, but my lips were sealed. I could only communicate with my eyes. I looked to people begging for help, but they couldn’t understand me. I went out on the front lawn and collapsed with the effort of trying to speak. It felt like I was in labour.

A man who I know to be very skeptical about spiritual experiences beyond decently and in order pew occupation walked up to me and asked in a taunting tone, “So, do you have a prophetic word for us?”

The words burst out of me.

“In the future we will venerate Mary more.”

I was shocked. Why would I say that? I am fascinated by Reformation history and I was all too aware of the division caused by misdirected worship of Mary that replaced the centrality of Jesus Christ in some places. What an odd thing for me to say.

I was suddenly wide awake. I couldn’t have been asleep for more than a few minutes. I went back to work in my office and heard my daughter playing a podcast in the next room. The speaker asked, “Where are all the Marys? Where are the women who will lay down their lives to carry the Word to the poor in spirit? Where are the women who are willing to labour and give birth to God’s plans for revealing his goodness on earth? Where are the Marys who put Jesus Christ first no matter the cost?”

I had never heard of this speaker before, but the timing was so remarkable I had to pay attention. Like Mary I needed to ponder what this meant.

I looked up the word venerate. It means to honour and very much respect a person. It doesn’t mean turning them into God.

I grew up in a home divided by religion. My mother was disinherited when she married my father who came from a different expression of Christianity than the one that was assigned by her ethnic culture. The pain of that rejection led to defensiveness and I heard all the arguments from the time I was young.

Sometimes reacting to a practise that heads toward the ditch in one direction results in a practise that lands us in the other ditch. In my culture the place of Mary was downplayed. Her name only came up at Christmas. We did not venerate her as an outstanding person full of grace or the most blessed among women. I needed to pay more attention to her.

I realized that many prophets are entrusted with the task of delivering words, but she delivered THE WORD, Jesus Christ himself. She also prophesied when she sang:

My soul is ecstatic, overflowing with praises to God!

My spirit bursts with joy over my life-giving God!

For he set his tender gaze upon me, his lowly servant girl.
And from here on, everyone will know
that I have been favored and blessed.

The Mighty One has worked a mighty miracle for me;
holy is his name!

Mercy kisses all his godly lovers,
from one generation to the next.

Mighty power flows from him
to scatter all those who walk in pride.

Powerful princes he tears from their thrones
and he lifts up the lowly to take their place.

Those who hunger for him will always be filled,
but the smug and self-satisfied he will send away empty.

Because he can never forget to show mercy,
he has helped his chosen servant, Israel,

Keeping his promises to Abraham
and to his descendants forever.”

I studied The Magnificat. Mary, at a young age, had an understanding of God’s plan! She knew about his heart for the poor and humble. He shared his secrets with her and she treasured them. She knew that she was participating with God in the creation of something wonderful and that eventually all generations would call her blessed because of it.

My favourite song is probably Bach’s Quia Respexit. It’s as if I hear Mary saying, “He has noticed and respected little old me. Wow! In the future all generations will honour me by calling me blessed.” (My own extremely loose translation.)

So, I was driving down the road pondering the dream and the podcast as I listened to Et Exultavit Spiritus Meus (my spirit exalts in God my Saviour) and Quia Respexit when it hit me. She got it! She and her relative Elizabeth, two mere women, understood that God was sending his salvation long before anybody else. (It’s makes me wonder what their mutual grandparents were like.) They were the first to recognize that this was the biggest event in the universe since creation.

That’s when I was overwhelmed with Mary’s joy. I felt her aha! moment.

A few days ago I took a photo of a Christmas ornament hanging on a tree. Something about the light caught in the shiny metal caught my attention. Metal is refined by fire. The deer represents the most humble and innocent of forest creatures. To me the photo speaks of the truth of promise, pure, tested, flawless, and ever faithful. It shines in those who humbly give themselves to the Lord so that his will may be done on earth as it is in heaven.

I read this last night:

But the Lord says, “Now I will arise!
I will defend the poor,
those who were plundered, the oppressed,
and the needy who groan for help.
I will arise to rescue and protect them!”

For every word God speaks is sure and every promise pure.
His truth is tested, found to be flawless, and ever faithful.
It’s as pure as silver refined seven times in a crucible of clay.

Lord, you will keep us forever safe,
out of the reach of the wicked.
Even though they strut and prowl,
tolerating and celebrating what is worthless and vile,
you will still lift up those who are yours!

(Psalm 12:5-8 The Passion Translation)

I honour and respect and am in awe of Mary the mother of Jesus.

Mary was the first to carry the Word, but the promise did not end with her. There are more Marys out there. Are you one?

Even While Others Sleep

 

IMG_0497 Dancing on Iinjustice ch.jpgBreak forth with dancing!
Make music and sing God’s praises with the rhythm of drums!

For he enjoys his faithful lovers.
He adorns the humble with his beauty
and he loves to give them the victory.

His godly lovers triumph in the glory of God,
and their joyful praises will rise even while others sleep.

God’s high and holy praises fill their mouths,
for their shouted praises are their weapons of war!

(Psalm 149:3-8 TPT)

In Absolute Stillness

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I needed to get out of the house and especially away from media, social and unsociable. I needed to get away from the noise of protestors and prognosticators and postulators and pretenders drunk on power. (Please, make no assumptions about who that may or may not be.)

I felt tired, overwhelmed and unable to hear anything but the chatter of outrage in my head. It’s been too long. I took my camera and headed for the hills.

The sky has been depressingly dull, and the days discouragingly short all week. I thought I saw the clouds thinning to the west so I headed up there. Departing fog left frost on the trees and I stopped and took a few photos, and then kept driving.

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I haven’t been up to New Lake for a long time. I wasn’t sure if there was enough light left late in the afternoon or if I could find a place to turn around if it turned out to be a bad idea. It looked like the narrow road had been plowed, and the urge to see what was around the next bend kept me going just a little further, encouraged by a bit of blue sky ahead.

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Snow has a way of dampening noise. I stopped by the lake, turned the engine off and soaked in the silence.

Some of the best together times with God involve no words, no thoughts, no agenda, no time pressure. Just standing still. Just being. Just knowing he is still here.

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Then the sun came out and I felt Him smile.

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I am standing in absolute stillness, silent before the one I love,
waiting as long as it takes for him to rescue me.
Only God is my Savior, and he will not fail me.

For he alone is my safe place.
His wrap-around presence always protects me
as my champion defender.
There’s no risk of failure with God!
So why would I let worry paralyze me,
even when troubles multiply around me?

God’s glory is all around me!
His wrap-around presence is all I need,
for the Lord is my Savior, my hero, and my life-giving strength.

(Psalm 62:5-7 The Passion Translation)

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Glories Stream

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Lord, your name is so great and powerful!
People everywhere see your splendor.
Your glorious majesty streams from the heavens,
filling the earth with the fame of your name!

You have built a stronghold by the songs of babies.
Strength rises up with the chorus of singing children.
This kind of praise has the power to shut Satan’s mouth.
Childlike worship will silence
the madness of those who oppose you.

Look at the splendor of your skies,
your creative genius glowing in the heavens.
When I gaze at your moon and your stars,
mounted like jewels in their settings,
I know you are the fascinating artist who fashioned it all!
But when I look up and see
such wonder and workmanship above,
I have to ask you this question:

Compared to all this cosmic glory,
why would you bother with puny, mortal man
or be infatuated with Adam’s sons?

Yet what honor you have given to men,
created only a little lower than Elohim,
crowned like kings and queens with glory and magnificence.

(Psalm 8:1-5 The Passion Translation)

She Said Yes

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Only the humble – those who know and are honest about who they are and who they are not – can be trusted in the presence of great power. The temptation to usurp it for self-aggrandisement is too great otherwise.

This quote came to my attention again today: “It is easier to be an excessive fanatic than it is to be consistently faithful, because God causes an amazing humbling of our religious conceit when we are faithful to Him.”
– Oswald Chambers

Of all the millions of women alive at that time, why did God choose Mary from Nazareth to carry and deliver the most important Word ever given to people – the Word Himself?

The angelic messenger greeted a person on the cusp of adult life with the acknowledgment that God saw her as a woman who was full of grace. In spite of the fact that being pregnant outside of marriage was a demotion reputation-wise and would probably set her up for the heart-breaking loneliness of being misunderstood, she recognized purposes of her Lord. She trusted him.

The most profound expression of faith ever spoken may be found in her response to an angelic encounter:

Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”

There is not a drop of religious conceit in her powerful yes.