Our stories of Christmas paint a beautiful picture of Mary riding a donkey, giving birth in a stable surrounded by the glow of candles with the animals looking on. Yet the reality of this wonderful night, is far different from what we normally perceive.
It all began one night, when Mary, a young girl betrothed to Joseph, is visited by Gabriel. All of the sudden her normal Jewish life is changed forever. The angel calls her the favored one, and tells her not to be afraid,though I’m sure the news shared stirred fear and wonder in her heart.
For she is told, that though still a virgin, she will have a child. And not just any child, but the son of God, whose name will be Jesus. For He will save His people from their sins. I always stand amazed at her response, for though her life will never be the same, she says, “Behold the bondslave of the Lord, may it be done to me according to your Word (Luke 1:38).”
Amazing, instead of fearing what others may think, much less what Joseph will say. Her immediate response is to declare she is God’s servant. Mary recognized that her life was not her own. She understood that as a servant of the Lord, she had no say in what the Lord called her to. Mary knew she had no other choice than to trust in God, and to truly present her body as a living sacrifice unto Him.
The days and months that followed could not have been easy. I’m sure Mary’s ears often burned with the gossip that floated around town about her and Joseph. Her family and friends surely questioned if this could really be true.Then in her final days, a decree is issued and now very pregnant, Mary must journey with Joseph all the way to Bethlehem. This was no easy journey and though the pictures often show Mary riding on a donkey, there is no mention of a donkey in the Bible. It could easily be that she like Joseph had to walk all this way as well. Regardless, it was a strenuous hike up and down mountains and through valleys. Difficult for anyone to travel, but especially for Mary.
Mary must have wondered at all of this. Not understanding how she a simple peasant girl had been chosen to bear the son of God. Certainly confused at the events that followed. Wondering at times where God was and why things were so hard.
After the long journey, Mary and Joseph arrive in Bethlehem. They go from inn to inn and yet there is found no room for them. The time has come for Mary to deliver and now she must have her baby, the King of Kings in a stable with only the help of Joseph. This is a far cry from what she most likely envisioned. Nothing that has happened since Gabriel’s visit has been normal. Life hasn’t been easy, but Mary continued to trust in the Lord. Yielding her life to God as His servant.
O to have Mary’s servant heart. To remember that my life is not my own, but belongs to the Lord. To trust God completely even when life is hard. This is my prayer, how about you? Let us then like Mary, daily offer up our lives and bodies as living sacrifices. Yielding to the Father’s plans and trusting that the plans He has for us will be fulfilled as He has planned.