A Few Days Later, Mary Hurried.
These words lit up on the page today. I love when I see something I've never seen,
especially in the story of the birth of Jesus.
That sentence holds a palpable tension.
She waited a few days,
but also, she hurried.
Here's the context.
In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph. Gabriel appeared to her and said, "Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!"
Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.
"Don't be afraid, Mary," the angel told her, "for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High."
Mary replied, "But how can this happen? I am a virgin."
The angel replied, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most high will overshadow you.
(I read that overshadow also means "envelop you with brilliance.")
So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.
What's more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God."
Mary responded, "I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true."
And the angel left her.
A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea,
to the town where Zechariah and Elizabeth lived.
I wonder what those few days were like for you, Mary.
You were so young… did you need permission to visit Elizabeth?
Google tells me that the walk from Nazareth to the hill country of Judea was 33 hours so probably three to four days.
But I imagine you made the trip in probably three days, since we read that Mary hurried.
Did your body feel different to you? Tender breasts? Nausea in the morning?
It had only been a few days. No baby bump to show, no lines on a stick.
Did you tell anyone about Gabriel? His visit and his words?
What happened in those few days before you could get to your relatives' home?
"She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary's greeting, Elizabeth's child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit."
What did that feel like for you, Elizabeth?
For the baby to leap?
I've felt a baby inside with hiccups, and I've felt a baby kick underneath my ribs.
But to feel a baby leap, that's a different word entirely.
What did it feel like to be suddenly filled with the Spirit?
I guess I thought you already were filled with the Spirit, to be the holy woman you were, receiving the miracle that lived in your body. But this was a new level of filling, one that brought presence and knowing.
You felt it, and you knew.
Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, "God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said."
You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.
In those few days between her visits with Gabriel and then Elizabeth, Mary had time.
Time to question, to wonder, to think she had misunderstood, to think this couldn't possibly be.
And yet, she believed the Lord would do what he said.
It was a choice.
In a season of waiting, it seems that all we have is time.
Time to question, to wonder, to think we've misunderstood, to think this couldn't possibly be.
And yet, I can believe that the Lord will do what he said.
It is a choice.
We are in the waiting.
In the waiting, there is blessing in believing.
~ ~ ~
Waiting Well has become a theme for me, and I wrote a book about it: Just. You. Wait.
I wish I could tell you that this piece is part of that book, because that would make sense, but this discovery came to me in my Morning Pages, just this very morning. Which just goes to show what happens when you believe and wait: beautiful things show up even after the book is written.