Saturday, December 4, 2010

Repost: Performance

Blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. (Luke 1.45; KJV)


Of all the coming-out scenarios I know—meaning any significant life turn based on self-disclosure—one has yet to rival Mary’s story. Here is a lovely, small-town girl engaged to a modest tradesman, probably expecting no more from her future than an ordinary life as a wife and mother. Then—WHAM!— an angel appears. In about 10 minutes’ time, Mary learns things about herself she never imagined. For starters, she’ll soon become pregnant. That knocks her into a tailspin and each new bombshell compounds her problems.

We think accepting ourselves and asking family and friends to do likewise is scary? After looking at Mary, let’s think again. At least we gradually discover who we are. Mary’s news hit her like a ton of bricks. It was her job to deal with it—its physical and emotional challenges, explaining it to Joseph and her family, facing inevitable shame in her neighborhood, and worst of all, comprehending the whole thing. If ever someone was entitled to ask, “What have I done to deserve this?” it was Mary. But listen to her response: “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1.38)

Scene Changes

Each of us understandably likes to view his/her life as its own unique drama. We see ourselves in lead roles we were born to play. And this is so. But our story also intersects with the spectacle of creation, in which we’re one in a cast of billions. Now, we’re supporting characters created and called to avail our talent to ensure God’s glory is revealed through us. This is precisely how Mary saw it. With stunning perception, she saw the scene had changed. Although Christ’s story suddenly overshadowed hers, she recognized God chose her for a reason. She set aside her expectations in life to serve God’s purpose.

A God Who Performs

Any time we’re asked to step into God’s sphere, we’re apt to have doubts. It’s hard to envision the full scope of God’s plan and feel comfortable about what we’re supposed to do. This apparently happened to Mary. Luke says she hurried off to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who also was pregnant. Mary barely got through the door before God’s Spirit spoke through Elizabeth, saying because she believed there would be a performance of all she’d been told.

My former pastor repeatedly cited this passage, reminding us we serve a God Who performs. When God says it, God means it—whatever “it” is. Paul said, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 1.20) Yes, it is so, we say, knowing our story nestles inside a far greater one. Each of us plays a part. We all serve a purpose. And God performs.

Originally posted August 22, 2008.

Our story intersects with the spectacle of creation, in which we’re one in a cast of billions. We say "Yes" to God's purpose, and God performs what's promised to us.


Sherry Peyton said...

At least Mary knew exactly what God was asking of her. We often don't and worry that we are discerning wrongly. Time always corrects us. Our first reading today was from Isaiah: "Whether you turn to right or left, your ears will hear these words behind you, 'this is the way, follow it.'

Good words to ponder. Blessings, dear friend.

Tim said...

How right you are, Sherry! That's where the Isaiah passage comes in--as well as so many other assurances that we're not traveling alone.

Your comment reminded me something a friend of mine said earlier this week: "You know how the Gospel writers smooth things over sometimes?" she said. "I wonder what Mary's real response was. I'll bet there was a moment or two of, 'I think you've got the wrong house!'"

Have a wonderful weekend!


Philomena Ewing said...

So many of us live our lives with a script given or hoisted onto us by somebody else that asks us to live an edited version of our true selves. Only God asks us to live from the true self always and we know we don't have to hold anything back. His script may take a lifetime to get hold of and very often we only memorise and mouth the part, or throw it back but when we finally "get it " then we really start to live the part !!
Great post as always Tim- really made me think.

Tim said...

What a beautiful, provocative point you add here, Phil! Indeed, we give up much by allowing our roles to be arbitrarily edited--and let others miscast us in secondary roles, when God creates us and scripts our lives to stand front and center.

One of my favorite, most reassuring texts is Psalm 139, which always stops me in my tracks at verse 16: "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

Yes, there is a script; yes, God has written it; yes, the sooner we shake off fear and compromise to fulfill our true roles in God's world, the richer and healthier our lives will be. May we be modern Marys!

Advent blessings, dear friend,