Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Bent Heart--Day 4

I Samuel 16:7; Luke 1 :38

My mind has been on Mary today. In the last couple of years there has been so much material written concerning the women of Jesus' life. Novels, extra gospels, essays, and movies have attempted to undermine what happened so many years ago in Bethlehem and beyond. Everyone wants to have a say in who Mary was and who she was not. We either make her an untouchable saint or just another unwed, pregnant teenager. We seem to be unable to find the reality of Mary.

I am forever amazed at the wonderfully ridiculous choices of God. There seemed to be so many ridiculous choices during the holy season: a virgin being with child, angels singing to shepherds out on the hills, a stable for a birthing center, wise men coming from the east following a star. God's choices are not determined by the same reasoning as ours.

I think of Samuel going to Jesse's boys to anoint the next king of Israel. Samuel thinks each strapping young man that appears before him must be God's choice. And God shakes his head. Samuel runs out of obvious choices and asks Jesse if there are anymore sons. They send for David. He arrives and stands before Samuel, and God nods his head.

I think Samuel was slightly dumbfounded at God's ridiculous choice. But remember yesterday's thoughts about the wings of the stage. God had been preparing David in the fields, in the unseen wings of the pastures with the sheep. Eventually this ridiculous choice, this young shepherd-poet, would become the greatest and most remembered king of Israel.

David was not chosen because of his ruddy handsomeness. He was not chosen because he was the greatest warrior or the oldest son. He was not chosen for his military prowess or his strength and skill with a sword (though He was and could do many of these things) No, David was chosen because of the condition and tenderness of his heart. His heart was bent toward the Lord.

Many have wondered about God's choice of Mary. Why her? Seems like another ridiculous choice. Why not a princess? Why not a wealthy woman? We must understand God Almighty does not look at the outward circumstantial appearances. His choices are not determined by what humankind can measure and see and comprehend. He does not choose who or what seems obvious. God, in his infinite wisdom, reaches beyond our comprehension and chooses the ordinary so that He can make it extraordinary. He chooses the ordinary so we might understand that he will use the willing vessel. He will choose and use the life that is tender and obedient to him. Doesn't matter how ridiculous this choice might seem to our human reason.

Mary wasn't chosen because she was beautiful, wealthy, or from the right political family. Mary was chosen because of the condition and tenderness of her heart. Mary had been prepared in the wings of Nazareth. And when Gabriel arrives with his astounding revelation we see Mary's heart. She tells Gabriel who she is. She is the Lord's servant, and she wants everything (including her own condition) to be as God has ordained. This is the true reality of Mary.

Mary's reality challenges me. I can follow Mary's example. When I read her words in Luke there is a resonating hum in my heart. Just like me she seems to be quite ordinary. She is God's wonderfully ridiculous choice. Mary gives me great hope. The condition of her heart is attainable.

What seems like a ridiculous choice in your life at this moment? What is God asking you to do that seems way out in the left field? way out in the boondocks of Nazareth? far from the obvious? Remember not everything is as it seems. Appearances are not always the reality.

He is looking for a willing, tender heart bent toward him.

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