Mary: Resting In God's Favor
Not too long ago, the Reaching Her gals and I had a planning meeting at a local Starbucks.
It was before Thanksgiving, but that matters little to our Christmas-obsessed society. The pumpkin spice lattes had been replaced by the peppermint mochas, the holiday giftcards abounded, and we spent a good ten minutes comparing the new red cups and picking our favorites.
Christmasy atmosphere aside, our conversation ebbed and flowed over many topics. Bible Study. Marketing. The Election. Paint Colors. Kid Stories. Summer Plans. The list goes on and on...
One topic stuck with us a little bit longer. The past few weeks there had been a surge of interviews and articles and opinion pieces being posted and passed around on social media about women’s ministry. Specifically, these posts focused on the ever gaining popularity of Christian women leaders and the infatuation of us as Christian women with them.
Some went as far as to point out an issue that we had never talked about before -- the idea that Christian women like you and me have become too focused on these women, these prominent figures of Christianity, and the words they say or write. That the appeal of a cool quote on Instagram or a convicting blog or the latest video series or new book has taken the place of true discipleship of women in the church.
And the more we talked, the more we began to see how dangerous and tempting it is to consider “women’s ministry” to be about a popular face instead of a personal pursuit of Jesus and His Word.
It was a sobering thought that night in Starbucks. As we sipped our coffees, we recalled the great work of the Moores and Arthurs and Caines and Connellys and Wilkins and Hatmakers out there, and how much these leaders of our faith had spurred so many towards Jesus. The work of these women is a mark of our generation.
There’s nothing wrong with the words of a woman, to find a life to pattern one’s after. In fact, one could argue, that having a generation of Christian women whose words and actions are publicly adored has been a long time coming.
But, I wonder if we’ve made the servants greater than The Master. And by making the servants greater in our hearts and minds, by seeking the easy and tangible and popular, we’ve met only a temporary need in our hearts. And we’ve told ourselves that someone else’s experience of God is far better than one we can get on our own.
So we feel good for a moment, until we put up our phones or put down that book or stop watching that video clip.
And a deeper, more lasting, need still calls.
So, what of it?
I found my answer looking at the life of another woman, a woman that’s easily skipped over during the holiday season.
Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Surrounded by my Christmas lights and wearing my Santa socks, I was struck anew by Mary’s life while reading through Luke.
Let’s look at how she is described in Luke chapter 1:
“And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” Luke 1:28-30
The angel Gabriel, God’s own messenger, said Mary was favored by God and that God was with her. Elizabeth, her cousin, takes it a step further by calling her “blessed” among women in verses 42 and 45.
God had set her apart, found favor with her, and chose her for the specific task of bearing His one and only Son. But why Mary? She describes herself as just a humble servant in verse 48.
We don’t know much about Mary, but I believe His favor found her because He knew her heart. We see her incredible response to God’s plan in verse 38.
“And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.”
Mary knowing only the information revealed in verses 31-37, chooses to take the Lord at His Word. She doesn’t hesitate or seek counsel or mull on it for weeks. She follows. She accepts God’s will wholeheartedly.
This choice, this step of faith, is why we see Elizabeth further describe Mary in this way.
“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1:45 (NIV)
I love this verse because I believe it shows a connection between belief, obedience, and favor.
Belief is one of the things that is a resounding theme throughout the Gospels. When Jesus heals or ministers, He points out the belief of those He encounters. He says it’s their belief that truly saves them. Therefore, belief becomes the foundation of faith in the Gospel. It’s not just an acknowledgement of fact. It’s a conviction of confidence.
Mary believed the Lord would fulfill His promises to her, and then it became easy for her to walk into His plan for her life. A plan that made no sense on any day, but was her plan all the same. A plan she was chosen to live out.
What we see Mary choose to do, we can easily apply to ourselves. When I believe God is who He says He is and does what He says He will do, then obedience becomes easy. I trust His character, and my faith moves me forward after Him, in what He has asked me to do.
And that is what gives us God’s favor. Following Him into what He has asked us to do. That’s why Mary was labeled “blessed.” She took God at His word, and she immediately surrendered to His will for her life. I believe Mary is a prime example of someone who went to God for fulfillment first. She didn’t waver. She didn’t seek temporary help. She rested in who God said she was.
I think that’s what fills the emptiness we feel - that need we try to meet on our own. It’s that greater need that needs something bigger than anything the words of a woman could ever offer.
It’s knowing our God. It’s choosing to believe. It’s moving forward in faith like Mary.
It’s resting in His favor.
That right there will eclipse the new book we open up or the pretty verse pic we Instagram or the convicting quote we pull from our favorite woman of faith. It will make those things purely supplementary, lovely additions to our life, like ornaments on the Christmas tree instead of the tree itself.
So, like Mary, let’s believe first. Let’s rest in His favor. And, let’s take some time to ponder it all over this Christmas season.
But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Luke 2:19
Amy Bufkin has loved Jesus for as long as she can remember. Even though she basically lived at her local church growing up, her faith and relationship with The Lord was incredibly shallow until her early twenties. It was then Amy learned how to study her Bible, began to truly commune with God, and her shallow faith began to deepen as she got to know her Lord and Savior. Now her passion is to communicate the same truths that changed her life to young women in as many ways as possible. You can find her on Instagram | Facebook