Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mary's Song

Have you ever really thought about what it would have been like to be Mary?  Can you even imagine actually having God-incarnate inside of your womb?  Could you dare to comprehend raising and caring for the one who would redeem the world with His very life and resurrection?  The weight of this concept is so enormous, yet its practical implications yield an equal burden.  From the time that she held the infant boy in her arms to the days when he accompanied her throughout town as a grown man, she received sideward scowls and judgmental glances from the townspeople.  No one else prior to or after Mary had ever been "divinely impregnated," so adultery was the only logical conclusion.  She received the news directly from an angel; the others had not.  Joseph probably received similar treatment.  His character was tainted in the eyes of his friends and family because he refused to divorce his unfaithful wife.  And eventually this family would have to flee the country to escape the murderous King Herod.  Was the task of raising Emmanuel so glorious after all?  

This couple was certainly endowed a privilege and responsibility of the greatest proportions.  They were hand-picked by the God of the universe to care for His only son.  But this was no walk in the park.  Mary and Joseph encountered angels, yet they were helpless to make the others believe their story.  It was illogical in every way.  They were thrust into a circumstance that they had no power to change... yet Mary's response is captivating: 

And Mary said:

"My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed, 
For the Mighty One has done great things for me- holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.  
He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, 
Remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, 
Even as he said to our fathers."

(Luke 1:46-55)

No hint of remorse.  No complaints.  No questions of "Why me?" or "Couldn't you have picked someone else?"  Instead, Mary's heart is, at its core, a worshipping one.  She uses this situation to bring about the glory of the One who had chosen her to be a part of His grand story.  She speaks of a God of mercy, might, and goodness.  Mary and Joseph were selected to be a part of this scene in God's masterfully composed redemption story.  He did not need them, yet He chose them.  Their response is of the utmost importance to us.

Mary and Joseph's involvement with the life of our Savior was not necessarily a case of suffering, but it was not easy by any means.  Even still, they portray the same faith in the big picture that men like Job and the Apostle Paul did.  They model for us the great reminder that we are not in control of what happens to us; we are responsible for how we react, with the end goal being Christ's glory.  Imagine how different the world would look if we were like-minded with Mary and Joseph in our approach to life's twists and turns.

Submission to the Father's story at the expense of your own comfort (or even safety) is no small thing.  But if I could ask Mary if it was all worth it, I have a sneaking suspicion she'd say "yes."

So grateful for her example,


Saturday, December 3, 2011


When the whistle blows at the beginning of a wrestling match, both competitors know that they will walk off the mat with one victorious and one defeated.  No matter how long the match, no matter how great the struggle, there are no "ties" in wrestling.  Whether you barely broke a sweat or you leave with fresh battle scars, it all boils down to getting your hand raised.  It is the motivation for getting up at 6am for a sprint workout.  It is the driving force behind the desire to endure the most grueling practices you can imagine.  It is the essence of victory.      

And here we are.  I've been looking forward to "getting my hand raised" for 8 grueling months.  They were some of the longest, most taxing months of my life, yet as sit here in retrospect, it all seems like it took place in the blink of an eye.  Here at the end of treatment, it is easy to feel like I just gutted it out.  It is tempting to feel that things like perspective and attitude were fruits of my own efforts.  It's true... I did defeat cancer, but I cannot claim glory for myself.

Cancer is such a unique opponent.  It is not selective in it's choosing.  It takes any and all challengers regardless of age, physical fitness, wealth, or social status.  But we can be honest.  My particular diagnosis was not so life-threatening.  This scenario made it easy for me to put my hope in doctors, in chemotherapy, and in radiation.  But such a hope was falsely placed.  Clearly, the Lord was capable of healing me right from the get-go, but He chose not to do that.  He allowed the sickness to run its course, but then heal me through the use of those doctors and treatments.  He had a plan for this situation to serve its purpose and enlarge my view (and the view of those around me) of His steadfast love and faithfulness.  He instilled in me the peace that I would get my hand raised at the end of this; it was just a matter of time.  He was the one  who conquered.

But the mere fact that treatment is over and I am healthy doesn't mean that the battle has been won, for this struggle was against something greater than just cancer.  There is victory because my story (as a part of the big picture) ends well.  There is victory because Satan's efforts to bring despair and fear have failed miserably.  There is victory because this circumstance brought about the glory of the one who allowed it to happen.  I am not so ignorant to think that I will never have to endure suffering again and that there are still many battles to be fought.  But I am encouraged because we will never be put to shame and hope is never out of reach because we serve the Almighty God who never allows His love and faithfulness to leave us:

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:37-39)  

These are words to live your life by.  Scripture tells us that there is absolutely nothing in all of God's creation that can separate us from Him.  Not one single thing!  That alone is motivation enough to fight the good fight.  

I must thank each and every one of you for your prayer and support since Day 1.  You all have been the most tangible example of the Body of Christ that I have ever experienced and I just don't have the words to express my gratitude!  There is so much of the story that is yet untold, so I will do my best to spread some hope as it unfolds.  I encourage you to do likewise.


Victorious through HIM,