(Photo by Bela DeLeon)
The Christmas Journey
By Michelle Ochen
Have you ever heard whispers and felt in your stomach a sick feeling that the quiet rustlings were directed at you? Have you ever been misunderstood and accused of something you did not do? If you have ever experienced one of these things then you know the awful feeling, and the loneliness you instantly feel.
There was a young girl like yourself. She loved to study, sing, dance, and spend time with her friends. Like you, she attended school, had favorite hobbies, insecurities, and passions. She attended weekly religious services and devoted herself to the standards of God. She was engaged to a godly man and dreaming about her wedding day. In the midst of her youth and approaching maturity into a wife, she entered into motherhood.
It is hard to find someone who does not know about this young girl and her story, and how she gave birth to the Son of God. Yes, you guessed it, we are speaking about Mary. Certainly we are familiar with her story but have we ever taken the time to consider the journey from her point of view?
Imagine explaining to your fiancé and friends that you are pregnant but that you were still pure in bodily form. Imagine the comments, whispers, and gossips that flew around Mary between school, church, and community.
Misunderstood, judged, alone.
God soon intervened and gave Joseph understanding that what Mary spoke was true and gave wisdom in how to handle the situation. Nevertheless, no one else understood or believed her tale.
How many times must Mary have wanted to give up? How many times she must have felt that she would break under the pressure of others. How many times she must have wondered why the Lord had chosen her? She could have given up, she could have given into the rumors to silence them, but she did not. She patiently endured the mockery, the slander, and the abandonment of friendships, all for the sake of God’s will.
You may feel that you cannot relate to Mary, that she is simply a character that we read of in Scripture, history, and at Christmas time; but oh the lessons we will miss if we only identify her in such ways! She was a young lady just as you, with every emotion, expectation, and struggle you and I face. She was willing to be used by God and He chose her to accomplish His will. When she said “yes” she did not know what it would cost her. The ruined reputation, the loss of friends, the pain of being forsaken; yet she endured it knowing it was the will of God. She persevered so that the world could have the promised Savior, so that Jesus would come to us, dwell among us, and save us. She raised the Son of God so that He could raise us up to life through His sacrifice and forgiveness of sins.
If Mary had given up, would the story of your life be the same? Mary was willing to lay down her life so that many would have life in the name of Jesus.
How far are you willing to go to be used by the Lord? How much are you willing to lay down or give up in order to bring Him glory? How valuable is the will of God to your life? To Mary the will of God superseded any will of her own.
This Christmas let us look at the classic story from a different perspective. Let us see Mary’s journey and allow her obedience to challenge our hearts. May we too be willing to lay ourselves down that others may draw nearer to the Lord. At school, in community, let us lay down selfish desires so that we may shine the light of Christ and live set apart for His plans and purposes for our lives. If you are willing, who knows? Maybe God will use you, as He did Mary, to change the world.