It’s a great journey even thought it doesn’t always feel great. Don’t give up!
Obviously, growing up as a church kid I’m not stranger to the Christmas stories, songs, traditions and over all “holy bling” of the holiday that was established to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I still remember several tunes from “365 Days of Christmas” – a children’s Christmas program that I participated in when my age was in the single digits. It wasn’t until decades later that I really took a real look at Mary, the mother of Jesus. It seems silly now to think that I would focus on a new born baby without giving any thought to the mother that birthed him.
What a fascinating character Mary is. Looking at what she herself says, what is said about her and the fact that she was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus, quite a resume indeed! I heard an excellent sermon in church this week about taking a closer look at Mary and seeing her as more of a “mover and shaker” than we typically think. Of all the things about Mary that I’ve heard, read or thought, my mind comes back to one verse that just challenges me no matter where my life is when I read it.
“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” (Luke 1.45 NRSV)
This was spoken of Mary to Mary by Elizabeth. Elizabeth was certainly no slouch either. She was chosen to give birth to and raise the strong willed John the Baptist who would grow to be a force to be reckoned with in his own right. (Can you imagine those bed time battles?) First of all, this is not an impressive statement at first glance. It’s basically saying, “You go girl! The Lord told you something and you believed it.” It’s a simple statement. But like many simple statements, it’s not easy to live out.
- “Trust God,”
- “God will supply all your needs,”
- “The Lord will be with you always,”
- “Don’t worry, God is going to take care of you.”
- “The Lord loves you.”
These are not complex ideas. They’re quite simple to memorize and recite. They are not so simple to believe. Sometimes your brain knows things before your heart believes those things, and vice versa. I’ve had very few times when my heart and brain were on the same page at the same time. I think that’s part of our human struggle as we “work out our salvation.” It’s our daily task and privilege. Some preachers and church people like to throw out those simple spiritual statements to sound holy (in my opinion), without ever wanting to admit to the fact that belief is a struggle for them too. (And if they say that belief is not a struggle for them at least occasionally, I think being self aware and honest most certainly is.) I heard an elderly women once admit that temptation was more of a struggle for her as a senior adult than it had been earlier in her life. (Imagine my disappointment. I had hoped that once you joined the gray haired committee that you would graduate from those spiritual battles.)
It seems like everyday of my life I’m trying to train or nurture my heart to believe a truth that my head knows about God. I have to practice believing those things. That means I have to be honest about where I am emotionally and spiritually, but I need to work and create an environment in my inner world that fosters belief. How do I do that? I make my voice say things like, “God is going to be with me on this hard day,” (even when my insides are all in knots), I need to sing spiritual songs about promises and faithfulness (even when I’m not quite convinced). I need to think about scriptures where people who were struggling saw God fulfill promises. Finally, and sometimes most difficult for me, I have to put myself with and talk with people who are struggling and seeking God, people who want to grow in faith along with me.
Disbelief is not a sin or something to be ashamed of. It’s a part of being human. God is not nearly as uncomfortable with our humanity as we sometimes are. What’s a simple spiritual truth that is on your mind? Do you believe that truth in your heart? If not, admit it, own it, work it out and……………..be blessed! It’s a great journey even thought it doesn’t always feel great. Don’t give up!