Thursday, May 09, 2013

Role Model for Moms

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38)

If we’re truly honest, few of us would step into Mary’s shoes in real life. Being an unwed mother is no easy task in our society; in Mary’s culture, it could merit the death penalty. Yet when Gabriel burst into Mary’s home and announced the risky role God had chosen her for, she not only accepted—she sang, proclaiming herself blessed among women.

Perhaps this is why, when we think of Mary, we struggle to see her as anything other than the mother of Jesus. As we watch her unflinchingly scrap her own hopes and aspirations in service to God, we subconsciously elevate her as someone whose selflessness and grace are so far beyond our own experience that she can’t serve as a realistic role model.

But the Gospels tell a different story. They portray a young woman who sacrificed everything to become God’s servant, yet struggled in ways that feel strikingly familiar. Here are three reasons Mary is someone I want to emulate, and why she is a great role model for every mother:

1. She made mistakes.
Any parent who has accidentally “lost” their child can take comfort, knowing they’re in good company. Imagine what Mary must have felt when she realized that she and Joseph had left Jesus—God’s Son—behind in Jerusalem after the Passover celebrations. It took her three days of frantic searching to locate Him. (Sit in that! I freak out when I misplace my wallet…but misplacing God’s Son for three days!) When they finally found Him in the temple, Jesus’ calm response showed that Mary had no need to worry: “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49). She probably began to realize that she didn’t fully understand God’s plan for her son. We can all relate to Mary’s dismay at understanding God’s will. And we can all take a cue from Mary’s humble response: rather than pleading for insight, she simply “treasured up all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51), marveling at the mystery of God.

2. She struggled with change.
Mary’s graceful acceptance of her role in God’s plan may mislead us into thinking that she was never fazed by change. Yes, she certainly was a super-mom who endured parenting nightmares with unwavering faith (e.g., giving birth in a stable, fleeing the country to protect her toddler). But when it came time to step back and let her child become the man God intended him to be, Mary struggled to find her new identity. She didn’t fully grasp God’s plans for Jesus, but she knew His path would lead Him through pain and conflict. At times, she yielded to her son, stepping back and waiting for Him to act (see John 2:1-5). Other times Mary overstepped as she tried to protect Jesus from dangerous accusations (Mark 3:20, 31-35), not understanding the ultimate nature of His mission. Yet in time, Mary learned that God’s will for her involved surrendering her son and learning to walk in His steps. In doing so, she became a model for discipleship.

3. She kept her faith in God through trials.
Our eyes are often so focused on the sight of Jesus hanging on the cross that we fail to notice His mom weeping at His feet. The anguish that Mary must have felt as she watched her innocent son die a humiliating, dehumanizing criminal’s death is beyond comprehension. She had faithfully followed God’s plan since her teenage years, and this was the reward? It would be enough to shake anybody’s faith. In following God’s will, Mary experienced sacrifice, hardship, and indescribable pain, yet despite it all, we see Mary working along with Jesus’ disciples after His ascension (Acts 1:13-14).

The Bible is filled with amazing examples of incredible mothers (and some not-so-incredible mothers too!). This weekend, we will look at another, a woman named Hannah.  You can read about her in 1 Samuel 1.  Janet Miclean, an incredible mom in her own right, will come with an amazing perspective for us all.  I have combed through her manuscript and this content is God-anointed and incredibly relevant for us at this time. 

I look forward to being together this Sunday.  I love being your pastor!