SIMPLE TRUTH: The simple faith of MaryBy Staff Reports Published 10:42am Friday, December 27, 2013
By Charles Christmas
Immediately after the Miraculous Conception, Mary journeyed quickly to the house of her cousin, Elizabeth, located in the Judean hill country.
Elizabeth was six months pregnant with the child we know as John the Baptizer. Upon the salutation by Mary, Elizabeth’s unborn child leaped within her womb. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed in a loud voice to Mary: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”
And then Elizabeth continued and said to Mary, “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, discerned that “the simple faith” of Mary was an important element in the miraculous Virgin Birth. It was a true venture of faith with God, and as such, has some information, encouragement and challenge for believers.
A review of the encounter of the God-sent angel, Gabriel, with Mary at the beginning of her faith journey reveals a few simple facts. Mary was chosen by the Lord and her faith journey was initiated by the Lord through the sent angel. Her faith journey would not relate to her worthiness, but totally to the grace, the undeserved favor of God, toward her.
What she was called upon to be and become was beyond her ability, but she was assured, “The Lord is with you.” She was afraid and she had doubts, but the Lord was patient and encouraging. She received a word and a promise from God of what he was able to do and would do. The Lord encouraged Mary toward her simple faith in two special ways. First, he told her of a lesser miracle in her family. Her elderly cousin Elizabeth, barren in her old age, was beyond child bearing. But God had shown grace and power upon her and Zachariah, and she was six months with child. And then, he gave her the greatest of all truth: “For nothing is impossible with God.”
Mary’s simple response in faith and obedience to the encounter with God’s messenger was: “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” This was the decision of faith, stepping out on faith, only in response to the initiative, the call, the plan, the promise and the word of God.
Next we see God’s confirmation of Mary’s simple faith and obedience by Elizabeth when Mary made her hurried visit. John, the unborn forerunner of Jesus, leaped with joy in Elizabeth’s womb. And filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth declared that Mary was the mother of the soon-to-be-born, God in human flesh, “my Lord!”
Here in the closing days of this year and as we turn our attention toward another, I believe that God calls upon his people to experience a faith and obedience somewhat similar to “the simple faith of Mary.”
Let me explain. Elizabeth described it in these words: “She who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” God is still choosing and calling and initiating faith journeys in the privacy of times alone with his people.
Thankfully, God is not looking for someone worthy, but someone upon whom he can pour his undeserved grace for a grace journey. In any of our doubts and fears the Lord also assures us, “Although this is beyond your ability, you will not be alone; I am with you.” He will also be patient and encouraging to us. God’s voice still speaks, giving us his word about what he is calling upon us to do and what he is able to do and will do. And he will remind us of some miraculous things he has already done for us and for others.
And finally, God will remind us: “For nothing is impossible with God.” And as we abandon ourselves in faith and obedience to God, then, in the journey he will also encourage and assure us as he confirms what he is doing in us, with us and through us.
Is God seeking to appeal to you personally about a faith journey which would have something of the same elements of “the simple faith of Mary?” Her submissive words are suitable for us: “I am your servant, Lord. May it come to pass according to your word.”
—Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Thursday.