Speech of an angel shines in the waters of her thought like diamonds,
Rides like a sunburst on the hillsides of her heart.
And is brought home like harvests,
Hid in her house, and stored
Like the sweet summer’s riches in our peaceful barns. (Thomas Merton)
“Look, even in her old age, your relative Elizabeth has conceived a son. This woman who was labeled ‘unable to conceive’ is now six months pregnant. Nothing is impossible for God.” Then Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.” Then the angel left her. (Luke 1:36-38; context)
Unlike Zechariah, Mary doesn’t ask for evidence of God’s power. She was confused by Gabriel’s greeting. Her question was about the mechanics of pregnancy. But she doesn’t seem to need proof to corroborate what the angel is telling her. However, Gabriel provides some anyway: “Elizabeth wasn’t supposed to be able to have children, and look, she’s starting her third trimester!”
I wonder if this proof of the following statement, “Nothing is impossible for God,” sways Mary. In fact, I wonder at what stage of the conversation she makes her decision. Is it the moment the angel mentions the baby? Is it after hearing of his kingdom? Is it when her cousin’s pregnancy comes up? Part of me says that Mary is just waiting for Gabriel to stop speaking so she can say yes. The other part says that Mary takes a moment when Gabriel is done. Perhaps she asks the angel to pray with her. In the next chapter, we find that Mary “ponders things in her heart,” so perhaps she does that now.
She could never have known what she was signing up for. Not really. My wife and I are thinking about having children, and even the thought of normal babies makes the future so unclear – exciting, yes, but unclear. Imagine being told that your baby is to be the Son of God – that his very name will mean “God saves!” I can’t help but think that Mary finishes pondering with no answers as to what her decision will mean for her life or her family’s lives. All she has is faith. Faith and the courage to trust that nothing is impossible for God, not even the act of sustaining Mary through what will surely be a hard (exciting, yes, but hard) life.
Today, I pray for the faith and the courage to answer God with her words. I invite you to do the same. In whatever God is calling you to do, let go of the need to know the outcome of your decision, and say with Mary: “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.”
Dear God, for you everything is possible for your creative imagination is without limits. Help me to trust that you will guide my feet upon right pathways all the days of my life. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.
I leave this moment with you, God, thankful that I, too, am a player in the continued narrative of the Good News of your Son Jesus Christ.