Have you ever struggled with doing something you knew you had to do but you just didn't want to do it? Maybe it was something as annoying as paying taxes, or as touchy as being honest in a tough situation, or as simple as following the speed limit. As we quickly approach the wonderful season of Christmas, I determined my first blog would be about Mary, our female counterpart, who was faced with doing something that could cost her everything. I believe there's an amazing lesson we can learn from her and her journey in giving birth to a miracle bigger that she could imagine!
Can you envision being a young woman, possibly as young as fifteen, and suddenly encountering an angel with a message about you having a baby? What an overwhelming idea it must have been, and what an internal struggle it must have created. God was asking her to surrender her hopes, her dreams and even her womb for the sake of giving birth to a miracle! This "miracle" meant disappointing family and friends, and possibly a fiance', who might choose to divorce her and put her away silently. Despite the negative possibilities, she knew God had chosen a destiny for her that was much more important than her future aspirations. It was about a child that held the hope of the world in his hands.
As Mary embraced her calling, her nine month pregnancy began. Interestingly enough, God designed us to carry our babies for nine months. In the scripture, whenever God used the number nine it was referred to as "the end of a matter as far as God was concerned; an end to God's judgement." Mary was carrying the end of God's judgement on man and the beginning of his amazing grace. Scientifically this period of nine months is broken into three trimesters. Each period of time representing a different part of development required for the future delivery to occur, and in Mary's case each held something relevant in her preparation for one of the most important births in history.
The first trimester was all about surrender. God had huge plans for Mary that were nothing like the plans she had for herself. But whenever God calls us to give birth to something new, whether it be a baby, an idea, a new career, etc. it requires us to completely yield our will. It means laying down what you are holding on to and taking hold of what he has to offer. I can personally relate to Mary's story. Almost nine years ago, God called me to birth something new. Turned out it wasn't just one thing but two, at a time when I had other plans.
It all started in January during the annual "Fast" 07' at our church. I can remember it like it was yesterday. Our pastor stood on the stage that morning in the midst of his sermon and said, "When we get to heaven we won't answer for all the good things we've done, we'll answer for how well we did the one thing we were called to do." Then he said, "What if there's a woman in the audience today that's been in ministry reaching hundreds or maybe thousands of lives, but what if God is calling her to have a baby that can reach more lives than she can?" I was challenged by the thought of making sure I was doing the one thing I was called to do, especially since we had just moved to town, having left behind all we knew, including our dreams.The part about "having a baby" didn't apply to me since I was no longer physically able to give birth. That afternoon I became very ill. After three days of being sick, I was fearful about what could be wrong so I prayed and God replied. He said, "You are having a baby." I was in shock and miraculously pregnant at the same time. God was calling me to surrender. I had just caught a glimpse of retirement and it was just over the hill, but God was taking me on a detour. He was asking me to let go of that place of rest I was longing for and embrace diapers and sleep deprivation at age 42. He was calling me to embrace homeschooling all over again when I had just reached the "independent learning" years with my other children. As vain as this may sound, he was also calling me to surrender my figure I had worked so hard to gain at my age. Lastly, it would mean surrendering some of my friendships since most of my friends were headed toward mid-life and I was headed toward play groups and field trips, oh my!
I'm sure Mary probably struggled just as we all do. Surrendering our dreams, letting them die, giving birth to new reality is one of the hardest things we ever have to do. When we surrender, we do it without the birds eye view of God, but it's always worth it in the end. Mary had reached a cross roads where she had to determine that her surrender was going to be worth it. Despite her unknown future, she embraced it. After all, being chosen to birth the son of God had never happened before and it would never happen again. She spoke to the angel who had brought her the news saying, "Let it be to me as you have said."
The second trimester is about growth and preparation. During this time, the thing inside us is beginning to grow and show. I remember the second trimester as a season of physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional growth in order to prepare for what was coming. It was a time for gathering information and the things needed to be prepped and ready. During Mary's second trimester, she traveled to her relative's house. Elizabeth had wanted to have children for many years. In the culture, it was expected and if it didn't happen a woman was disgraced. God had visited Elizabeth and given her a miracle. She was going to have a son and his name would be called John. He was destined to prepare the way for the Messiah Mary would soon deliver. What Elizabeth had thought hopeless was really about perfect timing.
The Bible doesn't tell us what all went on while Mary was with Elizabeth, but I believe she was being prepared. Titus 2:4-5 says, "The older women can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be respectful to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God." I believe Mary was growing in her understanding of how to carry out God's plan through Elizabeth's example. When God calls us to give birth to something new, many times we don't feel prepared, but if we draw close to him he provides what or who we need in order to move us into our third trimester. Mary stayed with Elizabeth until she delivered and then she went home.
I imagine that when Mary left Elizabeth's house, she felt prepared and she was showing and glowing. She had accepted the journey she was on, and she was ready to face her responsibility. She had probably helped during the birth of John, as was the custom. She knew what to expect and she understood what was at stake. We too can prepare to give birth to God's dreams for us by watching others around us give birth to their own dreams. We learn from their example and we gather the information we need to birth whatever God calls us to.
The third and final trimester is about completing the journey for the sake of new life no matter how hard. Many times when women are getting close to giving birth, the doctor will recommend walking to speed up the process. For Mary and Joseph, completing their journey required a long walk to Bethlehem as they traveled there to pay taxes. It was actually around a seventy mile or five day journey by foot from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Walking toward their destiny, speeding along the process of the wonder that was on the way, they took their steps of faith. We too have to walk out our faith and walk toward what God has planned, no matter how long or hard the journey may seem. We have to keep moving toward our divine purpose, because it's only in moving forward that things begin to happen in pregnancy or in our faith. This is the time that the path seems hardest. It's the time when the most energy is required and seems to be the most lacking. It's when the enemy will come to tell us to give up. It's the time when you start to feel impatient and you just want the flood gates to open and the water to break.
When the water breaks life comes forth! God's amazing design in pregnancy and delivery is symbolic. It wasn't just that Mary's water had broken and labor had begun. As her water came forth, it was the beginning of the living water flowing toward us. She wasn't just birthing a new life through her son's birth. She was pushing forth a new beginning for all of mankind. It was in Bethlehem in that tiny, musty, damp stable our life became full of opportunity for tidings of great joy! She was delivering our deliverer. Just like her, when we embrace a relationship with Christ the way she embraced her son, we aren't that far removed from Bethlehem. When we hold out our arms and embrace Jesus, we are taking hold of the baby she birthed right in the middle of the stable..
I hope during this Christmas season you embrace the son Mary brought forth. I also hope as you walk into the new year, you'll take the time to ask the Lord what it is he wants to birth through you. I am so grateful God chose me to carry our son because God was not only birthing a beautiful baby but he was birthing a book in the dark hours of the night while he had my attention. He had a double purpose. Having a baby in the midst of what seemed like poor timing, was God's perfect plan. He was birthing a new message. As we enter this special time of year, "Chaos in the Castle or Peace in the Palace?" is my gift to you. I believe it can set you free by shedding light about who you really are and who you were created to be as a woman, a wife, and mother. It's about unraveling the mystery of your design and embracing the power you have in your role. Understanding who we really are empowers us to give birth to miraculous things! It's up to us to choose to surrender, prepare, and walk. No matter what trimester you are in, God will meet you where you are and carry you to where he wants you to go, if you'll embrace peace over chaos, choosing a palace over a castle. You are a daughter of a King! Just like Mary, you then receive the greatest gift of all, the miraculous joy of giving birth!
Do you want to live in a war-torn castle or a peaceful palace?
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