It was a good service. I think. I have to admit I was more than a little distracted. It’s almost Christmas and deadlines are pressing. I have orders to fill and it will take working every day this week to get them done on time, even working this afternoon. Focus is easier as we lift voices and hands in praise but once my body is still the after effects of a rushed-because-my-alarm-didn’t-go-off-morning set in and my eyes long to close for just a few more minutes of sleep.
All is completed in the order of service except for the final act of passing the offering plates. It was in the stillness of waiting our turn that I saw them. Just a few rows in front of me I could see a father holding his young son. The boy looked into his father’s face as he quietly stroked his beard and patted his cheeks. It was a precious moment, one that caught me off-guard as sorrow engulfed me without warning and I began to weep. It would not be stopped and it took every measure of self-control I had not to give it full reign and wail loudly as I imagine our forefathers did when they ripped their garments and donned sackcloth and ashes. My mind quickly assesses how this must look, a very odd time to be overcome with emotion, but the heart would have its way whether understood or not. It would be hard to explain how in that moment I felt small hands on my face. I suppose it’s something a mother never forgets.
She was just a young girl when the angel came and proclaimed to her and over her that she was one blessed and highly favored. It must have been wonderful in that moment to know that God’s plan for her life was so important that He sent an angel to announce it. I wonder if she expected that to happen again. I wonder as she walked down the streets where her friends and neighbors turned away, embarrassed at her shame, did she look for another word from God? I wonder as she and Joseph struggled with the newness of married life complicated by her “situation” if she spent time alone waiting for another angel to tell her they would make it through the learning how to love each other? I wonder as she waved goodbye to her mother, climbed upon a donkey, and journeyed farther from home than she had ever been, was she watching the sky for a sign as the homesickness quickly set in? I wonder as she cried from the pain of childbirth and fear of the unknown, did she beg Him to speak, to reassure her that this is exactly where He had planned for her to be? I wonder if the angel’s words rang in her ears as she wept at the foot of the cross? Sometimes this is what blessed and highly favored looks like. Do you see?
Sometimes blessed and highly favored looks like the one who sacrifices time with her children and grandchildren, friends and activities, as she tenderly cares for her elderly mother, wondering where she will find the energy for tomorrow.
Sometimes blessed and highly favored looks like the one who rises every day with new resolve to stay clean, determined to rebuild what was torn down, resisting the constant temptation to give up, wondering when God will bring complete deliverance.
Sometimes blessed and highly favored looks like the one with no new goals or plans as she sits in the discomfort of the stillness, wondering why God is silent.
Sometimes blessed and highly favored looks like the young mother with toddlers at her feet, another baby on the way, trying not to be completely overwhelmed in this life she dearly loves and wondering how she will get it all done.
Sometimes blessed and highly favored looks like a woman crying as she touches her own cheeks, enveloped in memories that overwhelm with both joy and pain, wondering what it will be like to see him again.
Sometimes blessed and highly favored looks more like dark, thunderous, lightning-filled skies than sunshine and rainbows.
It’s tempting to believe the message that to be blessed and highly favored is evidenced by our positions, our promotions, and our pocketbooks. To proclaim it often to ourselves and over ourselves in hopes that our lives will be easier and more secure through our loud and upbeat proclamations of faith. And as that may happen to some, it is still the least of it. As I consider Mary and what it meant that she was blessed and highly favored above all women, I believe we have trivialized it and made it something it is not.
It’s been a year of getting real with God. It’s been a year of examining faith and finding again the simplicity of the solid foundation and ridding myself of self-imposed boundaries and unrealistic expectations and mechanical worship. I am not blessed and highly favored because all has gone well and my life has been spared the dark nights and the weeping and the difficulties and the pain. I am blessed and highly favored because I have loved deeply enough for my heart to be broken. I am blessed and highly favored because I have risked my heart and given my energies and failed miserably. I am blessed and highly favored because He has noticed my sorrow and saved my tears. I am blessed and highly favored because He lowered Himself to be housed in me, never to leave me or forsake me, especially in the dark moments. I am blessed and highly favored because I am no longer dependent on outward circumstances, people, or events to determine if I am blessed and highly favored.
Do you see what I see?
“Do you see what I see?” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com