And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord.”
Luke 1.46 (New King James)
When we speak of magnifying the Lord, we ordinarily mean praising Him. In fact, most contemporary renderings of Mary’s song substitute “magnifies” with a “praise” synonym. But something gets lost in translation by downgrading Mary’s adulation to common praise. Her song comes at the biggest moment of her life—indeed, the biggest moment in human history. It demands big praise.
Having just learned she will give birth to God’s Son, Mary visits her cousin, Elizabeth, who prophetically confirms the angel’s news. The Bible leaves Mary’s age unnoted, but let’s assume she was a teenager, given the customs of her day. The awesome responsibility she faced would cause anyone twice her years to faint with fear. Not Mary—she breaks into song! “God has never felt greater, His favor never more real, and His power never so evident in my life.” Her soul rises in faith and magnifies the Lord.
As we listen to Mary, we see God in His fullest glory as our Creator, Redeemer, and Champion. His work in her reveals His potential in us. Unique though Mary’s situation was, we are like her in this respect: our souls are God’s windows. It’s through them that others observe Who He is and what He does. How He’s seen, though, depends on us. Our ability—and willingness—to magnify Him directly affects His portrayal in our lives.
The soul is a mysterious thing. It exists without a trace of physical evidence. We know it’s there because Genesis says God breathed into us and we became “living souls.” They’re His expressive presence in us and to the world. Jesus told us to love God with all of our heart, mind, and soul. We might think of this as three rooms in one house. Motives reside in the heart. Thoughts occupy the mind. Emotions live in the soul. Motives and thoughts reveal us. But the faith revealed in our emotions decides the size and clarity of the God we display.
The Size Issue
Risking metaphorical overkill, emotions work like a zoom control. The happier we are to trust God, the bigger, clearer He looks. If despair and uncertainty color our feelings, we enlarge ourselves; He grows smaller, dimmer. The size issue comes down to who’s zooming who? “He must be greater; I must be less,” Jesus said, echoing Job: “Remember, you magnify His work for men to see.” Finally, David found that when emotional transparency enlarges God’s presence, the results are too wonderful not be shared. “Magnify the Lord with me!” he wrote. It’s an offer we can’t refuse.
Originally posted September 10, 2008.
My Soul Doth Magnify the Lord (Barbara L. Desrosiers: 2000)
(Tomorrow: Rugged Places)
Flight delays and missed connections have Walt and me stuck overnight in Madrid--not a bad place to be by any stretch of the imagination, but not where I need to be to deliver tomorrow's post in a timely fashion. Barring any other unforeseen challenges, I hope to get things back on schedule no later than 8 PM CST tomorrow.
In the meantime, here's the Scripture the post will focus on. Isaiah 40.4: Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, and the rugged places a plain.
If it inspires any thoughts, by all means, share them here. (I've been praying to find a way to draw on the wisdom and inspiration of all of us in developing specific posts--what's been such a hassle today could very well be a veiled answer to that prayer!)