Luke 1:36-38 (the message)
“And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”
And Mary said,
Yes, I see it all now:
I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.
Let it be with me
just as you say.
Then the angel left her.
Last night Leah wanted help doing her mapbook for church. Since I was feeding Leighton I asked Rivers to come into the kitchen and read Luke 1:26-38 for us. As she read the verses above my heart caught on four particular words.
Everyone called her barren.
I began to think about how easily we believe what everyone says about us. Elizabeth, Mary’s older cousin, was called barren. Assigned a label and that was that. Except, that wasn’t that. Everyone called her barren, except God.
What does everyone call you? What labels and impossibilities have been painted across your back? Which scarlett letter are you tempted to accept?
Many images and words flood my mind as I consider labels. Elizabeth’s was barren, and in a time when producing children, especially sons, was all-encompassing I think barren was pretty devastating. She was past her child-bearing years so wasn’t it safe and fair to label her barren? Everyone, after all, did.
This morning will you consider with me that our God delights, I mean I think gets tickled!, with taking the labels we give and receive and busting them to pieces. Will you consider with me that perhaps He allowed Elizabeth’s childless state for so long with the absolute purpose of showing the world one thing:
Nothing is impossible with God.
Words spoken with such ease by others can burrow into our heart and mind, changing our perception of who we are and who we can become. It’s so easy to let what everyone else calls us define us. It’s easy to pass up opportunities or take risks because no one called us smart, capable or creative. It’s easy to pass on love because no one called us worthy, precious or beautiful. It’s easy to put off a fresh start or new direction because no one called us blood-bought. It’s easy to give ourselves permission to stay the same because no one told us there was hope. What happens to us as we grow older, as we realize the bloom of youth is fading? Dreams are forgotten and hope slips away if we continue to believe we are only what they called us.
What if we learn to hear and believe what God calls us? What if we begin to see that our natural talents or lack of, our body type or intellect or natural personality is not the final word on our outcome? Our impossibilities are meant to be fireworks of His glory that shower down into the lives around us. Our weaknesses and labels are meant to break open and shatter in full view of our world, revealing a God who would never be satisfied to call us less than His.
They might have called you dumb, but God says you have the mind of Christ. They might have called you ugly or fat, but God says you are fearfully and wonderfully made. They might have called you a loser, but God says you are the apple of His eye. They might have called you a nobody, but God says death on a cross was worth it just for you. They might have called you a lost cause, but God says He leaves the ninety-nine for the one sheep that wonders off. They might have called you hopeless, but God says He knows the plans He has for you and they are for a future and a hope. They might have called you average, but God says you are His masterpiece. They might have called you broken, but God says He keeps your tears in a bottle and is close to those crushed in spirit. They might have called you old and used up, but God says in Christ you are a new creation, the old is gone and new has come. They might have called you out, over and finished, but your God calls dead things to life.
Yes, I see it all now…
Gabriel appeared to Mary with some hard-to-believe news, right? She even tells the angel, But how? When I’ve never slept with a man! Gabriel tells Mary how the Holy Spirit will come upon her and this child will be the Son of God. At this moment I think Mary needs a dose of God-possibility so before she can speak another word of disbelief, Gabriel stops her with a ‘did you know?’ Did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren…nothing, you see, is impossible with God.
Did you know that my marriage all but fell apart? More than once? But we snuggled on the couch last night because nothing is impossible with God. Did you know I’ve watched for a heartbeat that didn’t come twice? Grieved a child I never knew twice? But I kissed my three beautiful girls last night because nothing is impossible with God. Did you know I never felt smart enough growing up so I wouldn’t ever try new things? But I worked in a Cardiac ICU for a time in my nursing career because nothing is impossible with God. Did you know I come from a “broken home” and experienced some very hard things as a child? But I’ve known healing and wholeness and that will be my legacy because nothing is impossible with God. Did you know I was a worn and weary people pleaser but am learning to set boundaries in my relationships because nothing is impossible with God? Did you know when I was young they called me pretty and that was all I thought I had going for me? But I’m learning fadeless beauty lies within a surrendered heart because nothing is impossible with God. Did you know I was unstable and highly emotional in my twenties as I demanded someone fill my empty places? But I’ve tasted stability and quiet strength in my thirties because nothing is impossible with God. Did you know that for most of my life the words I wrote were hidden on a clipboard for only a few to read? But I discovered a gift can be an offering so I write with abandon because nothing is impossible with God. Did you know I learned to believe Him because of the “did you know” in someone else’s life?
Sometimes I think about this blog and it hits me how much of my heart and soul is smeared across it for anyone to see. Sometimes that feels a little scary and I momentarily fear a label or an opinion or what you might call me. But then a faint smile comes because really I can’t be defined or labeled anymore. I can’t even define or label myself. I just keep waiting to hear what He says, find out what He calls me, and hopefully echo Mary-words from long ago…
Let it be with me just as you say.