Friday, August 29, 2014

Mary: the Mother of God

Wonder what sort of woman Mary was?

Did God select her as the earthly mother of his son because she was so holy? So gracious? So maternal? So wise beyond her years?

Was Jesus' mother a competent and worthy young woman? Was she masterful and talented at the things she tried to do? Was she accomplished? Well spoken? Smart? Graceful? Resourceful? Admired? Wise?

Was Mary a good cook? An excellent housekeeper? An able teacher and disciplinarian?

Was Mary a good wife and did she make Joseph happy and proud?

Was she pretty? Beautiful? Saintly?

I wonder? Was Mary sometimes a bewildered young mother uncertain of what her real role was and what God expected of her? Did the load ever feel just too too heavy? Certainly, there must have been times when she felt misunderstood and persecuted... the ridicule about Jesus being illegitimate was still happening decades after his birth.

Did Mary enjoy living in Nazareth -- a place derided by the more important folk of her day -- or did she long for something more exciting and fun? Did she ever wish for more than Joseph's humble means could provide? Did she bear patiently with her workload and the heat of the summer and cold of the winter seasons or did she sometimes complain and grumble and feel impatient and put upon?

Mary was chosen among all women of all time to be Jesus' mother. God could have chosen any of us -- any of us at all -- to be his mother. It's not anything Mary asked for or hoped for or longed for. It was just something that, well, for lack of a better word -- HAPPENED to her. It just one day, out of the complete blue, happened to her.

If we had been choosing Jesus' mother, would we have chosen a young, poor, uneducated, simple woman to be his mother? More likely,we would have given him every advantage to ensure a prosperous and successful  homelife and upbringing and it would have included not only a stable and well-to-do home, but also a stable and well-to-do community in which to live and learn.

The way God does things so often seems counterproductive. He makes the wise foolish and the foolish wise. He makes the strong weak and the weak strong. He makes the proud humble and the humble proud and the first last and the last first.

Wonder what sort of woman Mary was? Young. Naive. Foolish. Weak. Humble. Poor. Unimportant. Overwhelmed. Confused. Last.

Why choose her?

Why Mary? Why? Why why why? What qualified her for such an honor?

I believe it was because of one thing: Mary was obedient.

She was humbly, confidently, foolishly, naively, dependently, patiently, decidedly obedient.

Obedience is something that, as Americans, we don't take too seriously. We like a rebel and an independent thinker who doesn't mind to stir it up. Obedience seems bland and boring and unintellectual. You don't have to be too bright to be obedient. You don't really have to be too good at anything. We don't really hold obedience in high regard. We even think it's sort of trite. We teach our children to question authority! We think respect has to always be earned (not given until lost) and we sometimes think obedience indicates weakness.

But to God, obedience is an honorable and important part of who he created us to be. The Israelites failed to attain all the blessings God had planned for them because they were disobedient. Does the same thing happen to us?

Wonder what sort of woman Mary was? Sometimes I think she understood a concept that is completely foreign to me. She was obedient.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord.  "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. Isaiah 1:18-20

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Lydia's Boa

Our two-year-old granddaughter, Lydia, is positioned to set this world on fire.A diamond set between two hard-as-rock boys, this fearless little girl is as delicate and ladylike as an old fashioned Snow White (NOT the Snow White portrayed by that sulking vampire-lover) but also holds her own in every category.

One day when the kids were at work with us, my daughter Alicia and I struggled to put a giant air conditioner into a back window. While the boys watched Bambi on the DVD player, Lydia quietly observed her mother and me for quite a time before deciding the coast was clear. She stealthily swiped a screw driver and a screw from our little pile of tools and commenced to patiently installing the screws into a metal part laying on a shelf.

Lydia is a problem-solver. She accesses situations and determines how best to proceed. She arranges her toys to suit her even if it takes great effort. She pushes her baby carriages and shopping cart through mazes of toys and furniture and, if needed, lifts them over any and all obstacles. She almost always has a baby doll in tow -- she's an excellent mother, an excellent mother -- but still manages to handle all the other domestic issues that present themselves to her all while looking stylish and behaving like a lady.

She's bold. She's fearless. She funny. She's loving. She's spunky. She's ornery. She's bright. She's quick. She's sweet. She's bigger than life.

A couple weeks ago our church hosted a family reunion and had various small animals and reptiles brought in from a reptile farm somewhere around St. Louis. Lydia petted the alligators and iguanas and stroked the hedge hog and exclaimed about the tarantulas. Then, in her fluffy-cotton-candy dress, she tried on the boa, happily engaged with the handler and Princess the Python for about ten minutes.

How do we become who we are? Are we born a certain way or do the sum of our experiences -- and how we interpret them -- make us into the people we are?

Who will Lydia be in ten years? In twenty? In fifty?

She'll be the girl with the hat and the dress and the shoes and the boa, that's who.

And she will be magnificent.