Stephanie Ehmke, MA, LPC
“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
Luke 1:45 (ESV)
Well, the Christmas season is “officially” upon us!
I personally am one of those people who does not put up the tree or listen to Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving. So, I am finally ok with writing and talking about Christmas now.
In the spirit of things, I went to the Christmas Story found in the book of Luke. There is so much beauty and detail found it the way Luke tells the story. There is no doubt in my mind he had to have spent time with Mary at some point in his life because his account of Jesus’ birth and the details surrounding it feel very intimate in nature. I can’t help but wonder what that conversation would have been like between the two of them.
What must it have been like hearing Mary tell the story of the angel Gabriel coming to visit her? Did she and Luke sit down over a meal and talk or was she busy cooking and doing housework as she retold the story? Was she animated or more nostalgic? However it happened, I’m guessing that Luke, being the analytic, detail-oriented physician he was, soaked up her every word. He probably even had a few questions. I know I would have.
Even now as I read through the story many questions come flooding into my mind. The one I’ve been considering and wondering about the most is, “What was it like for Mary as she waited to find out she was really pregnant?”
Most women don’t find out they are pregnant until they are maybe 2-3 weeks along. For some, depending on how their bodies work, it’s sometimes in the 6-8 week range. Then, depending upon how your body reacts to hormones, or if this is your first or second child, you still may not “feel” pregnant. Even with a positive pregnancy test, some women, especially with their first baby, don’t begin to look pregnant until 4-5 months.
Obviously, with our modern technology giving us confirmation and, well, the fact that we engaged in an act that would produce a baby, we feel confident and excited during those early stages when we may not be able to see or feel that we are actually pregnant. Mary, however, didn’t have these reassurances.
She did, of course, have the very real angel Gabriel who came and spoke to her (which is pretty cool and I’m sure a major determination in her believing what was told to her would happen). But still, even in her willingness, the next day she woke up with no tangible evidence, which takes me back to my question. “What was it like for Mary as she waited to find out she was really pregnant?” Was it days, weeks, or was it a few months? How did she remain expectant as she waited for the fulfillment of what was spoken to her?
I think the question haunts me a bit because I’m terrible at waiting and to be honest, based on conversations, so are most of you. I would LOVE to know how to wait better, how to wait expectantly, especially when there is no tangible evidence in front of me that the waiting (in certain circumstances) will ever end.
I’ve come to notice over the years a profound truth when it comes to trusting God in the waiting. When I think God has spoken to me and is leading me in a direction I want to go, and the pieces fall into place quickly, I absolutely believe it’s him and obey100%. BUT, if I think God is speaking to me, leading me in a direction I may not want to go or is taking longer than I think he should, causing me to wait, I doubt it’s him. I rationalize and make all kinds of excuses for why I must have heard God wrong.
The truth is, I know my Lord’s voice and how he speaks to me. It’s taken years and years of growth and I’m sure there are more years of growth to come, but I know his voice. This intimacy with God is available to all of us as the book of John tell us,“My sheep respond as they hear My voice; I know them intimately, and they follow me.” (John 10:27, The Voice)
So, for those of us who follow Jesus, when we hear his voice, why do we begin to doubt him in seasons of waiting?
I look at Mary and soak in her cousin Elizabeth’s words to her… “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:45, ESV)
Mary believed what was spoken to her and she was blessed for it.
I know some may scoff and think, “Well come on Steph, she had an actual angel standing in front of her!” Yeah, I know. But we who follow Jesus have the Holy Spirit living inside of us. I’m not saying I wouldn’t welcome a visit from an angel, but what we have available to us is so much more personal, powerful and close. From within the depths of our being, the God of the universe, the one who spoke all things into existence, has the ability to communicate with us. It’s extraordinary.
So what would it be like if we began to trust that voice in times of waiting? It may change everything and like Mary, leave us more blessed than we could ever imagine.
For Your Reflection…
Most likely everyone reading this is waiting on God for something. Whatever it may be, talk to him about it. Ask him for strength to remain expectant even when there is no evidence of his movement and for help to trust you’ve heard his voice.