Preparing. Tis the season for such things. The Christmas holiday season is so fast and full with lots to think of and the do to list is getting ever longer. Do this, that, and the other thing you almost forgot about. And by the way, when you have time, the best way to prepare is to read the Christmas story.
So I make time. I read Luke 1:26-38. I close the book. Done right? But this time I choose to read slow, slow enough to sit with the story as it unfolds. I absorb something different, something more full. I start to notice the order:
When Gabriel comes to Mary the first word the angel says is “Rejoice,” telling her that amidst the surprise, it’s a time for joy.
Then He reminds her who she is: “Highly favored,” affirming her deep and ultimate worth.
“The Lord is with you”: The One who loves you is close.
“Blessed are you”: You have been given something extraordinary.
“The Holy Spirit will conceive in you a Son.” She was troubled. But He has an answer for this too: Let Me do what only I can do.
It’s not always easy to know the Lord’s specific will, but He does tell us that His presence is priceless amongst the hustle and bustle: to be in the presence of Jesus when time swirls on around us. Precious child, you hold onto so much more than you were meant to, “do more, try harder, control.” Hear again, like Mary, His whisper-promise in the whirl, “Receive joy. You are favored and precious. I am with you. You are blessed. Don’t be troubled. My plan is unfolding. Trust Me to do what only I can do to.”
Is that not also what He asks of us – to hold His presence, to make ourselves a home for Someone else, for him to laden our hearts with the Treasure of Heaven? Will you carry Me? Are you afraid of what my perfect love has in store for you?
I imagine Mary’s head reeling and heart pounding, being reminded “peace, be still.” Give yourself permission to ponder in your heart as Mary did. This is how we prepare. He is beyond our wildest dreams even in the most mundane of moments. These moments hold the weight of His glory and that is wild dream enough, that Jesus would grace us with the opportunity and ability to obey in all moments.
I learn that preparation is the work of waiting well: rejoicing, choosing to see what He sees, bowing in obedience in the smaller moments, and being fully present. I realize that His glory in every moment of anticipation is as important as the anticipated itself. Mary could never have known that she would be visited by an angel or a mother to the Son of God, but God did. He prepared her. She responds, “Let it be to me as you have said,” her highest love proven in obedience. Let Him prepare you for what He only knows is in store. Choose surrender and love obedience in the little moments as you prepare this Christmas. This was Mary’s amen, her “so may it be.” Not my will but Yours, always Yours. Make Jesus your King in the preparation this Christmas. Trust Him. Obey Him, and expect great things from Him.
Father, prepare us. Teach us to believe, even as we so often say, “Amen.”