Monday, December 21, 2009

Highly Favored

Highly Favored

by Jo Huddleston

Mary walked a short distance from the back of her family’s house toward a stand of trees. She stopped and stood in the shade of a sycamore fig tree, reflecting on her obscure village in the hills of Galilee. Mary was content to help her family all she could around their lowly home, but she always wondered about other people in distant places.

She plucked a pear-shaped fig from the sycamore tree and sat, leaning back against the tree trunk. A light breeze fanned across her face as she bit into the sweet fruit. Mary savored it slight fragrance and gave in to her daydreaming. Like many young girls, she longed for things and places she’d never seen.

Nothing exciting ever happens here in Nazareth. We live in such a sleepy village. I’m sure it’s not this dull in Jerusalem or Bethlehem.

In her gentle meditation, Mary’s imagination drifted to all the things she wanted to do, things she would never get to do. But she knew her life would never change. She would become the wife of Joseph, a common carpenter, and remain in Nazareth the reset of her days.

Lulled into her dreary reverie, Mary could never have suspected just how wrong she was. She didn’t know God intended her life for something greater than the world had ever known.

Suddenly an angel named Gabriel stood before Mary.

“Mary, God has sent me to you. He favors you above all others. The Lord is with you.”

Mary glanced all around, believing that Gabriel spoke to someone else. Why is he greeting me such a way? She was troubled at Gabriel’s words and wondered why he said these flattering words to her.

“You surely aren’t speaking to me, are you?”

“Mary don’t be afraid. God has chosen you for a special honor. You will have a son and you are to name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father God, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end.”

She looked around her again, then back at Gabriel. “Jewish mothers through the ages have longed for this honor, to be the one to bear the Messiah. Why has God given me this privilege?”

“God favors you above all others. You will give birth to the Son of God.”

“But how will this be, since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “You will be under the influence of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Even your relative Elizabeth is going to have a baby in her old age. You know she was said to be barren and now she is in her sixth month. Nothing is impossible with God.”

Mary’s heart thrilled at this angelic message that God chose her to impart and mold the human nature of His Son.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary said to Gabriel. “May it happen as you have said. I will let the Word of God guide my desires.”

* * *

“Joseph, Elizabeth is having a baby!”

“That can’t be true. She’s old and barren. How could this happen?”

“It’s a blessing from God in her old age.”

“It would have to be so, because it’s a miracle,” Joseph said.

“Joseph, speaking of miracles, I have something to tell you.”

Joseph gave Mary his devoted attention.

“Joseph, an angel visited me and spoke a message from God to me.”

A slight smile crept across Joseph’s face.

“What?” Mary said. “What are you smiling about?”

“Did this angel give you a message about a baby?”

“Yes . . .”

“Mary, an angel came to me also. I know you’re with child. And I know the child is sent from God.”

“And we’re to name Him Jesus?” Mary said.

“Yes, Jesus! Mary, you are highly favored to be the mother of the Messiah,” He took her hands in his.

“You can still marry me, then?”

“Yes, we will not question the Word of God. This, too, is a divine act from the Lord. We will be a part of the miraculous birth of the promised Savior!”

* * *

Months later, Joseph and Mary journeyed to Bethlehem to register for the ordered census of the entire Roman Empire. The crowds, who came to the city for the same reason, filled all the places to stay overnight. Finally, Joseph found an innkeeper who allowed them to stay in his stable. Joseph situated Mary in their humble quarters just in time, for that night she delivered her baby boy.

On the hillsides outside of Bethlehem, a host of angels heralded the birth of Jesus to shepherds. The shepherds came to where the angel said Jesus and His earthly parents would be found. Knowing a Savior had been born, they could do nothing less than tell such good news to everyone they met.

Mary marveled at this holy child from God. I am the mother of the Divine King of the Ages. She watched and listened as the word of her child’s birth spread among the people. Mary treasured up all these happenings and pondered them in her heart. I will forever be entwined with the One Who is the hope of the world; the promises Messiah, Jesus, forever the infinite heart of Christmas.

Read the previous story, "The True Twelve Days of Christmas" by Kathy Ide.

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