Some years ago, I shared about a ½ page advert that featured in the broadsheet newspapers. It featured 3 pictures in a row. Let me see if I can describe these pictures to you. The first picture featured 2 key people. One was a businessman wearing a bowler hat and carrying a briefcase who walking down the street. The second was a punk wearing leather and chains, sporting a magnificent Mohican hair style. The punk was looking at the businessman and grimacing and was clearly poised to run at him; there was palpable tension in the picture. The second picture showed the same 2 people, but in this picture the punk had reached the businessman and was reaching out towards him. The businessman looked absolutely terrified, clearly worried about being mugged or having his briefcase stolen. If you were that businessman, quite likely you would have been terrified too. It isn’t until the third picture that the context becomes clear. The businessman had been walking down the pavement beside some scaffolding, and the scaffolding had started to collapse and was about to fall on him and crush him. The punk had seen this and had run towards him to push him out of the way and quite likely save his life.
We should never assume that we know everything there is to know about any given situation or person because we often don’t see or even fully understand the bigger picture. That lack of understanding can manifest itself in both our behaviours and our prayers – both in terms of how we act or pray and what we might pray for. That is why it is so important for us as believers to try and see the world through God’s eyes and not our own and allow the Bible to speak into and shape our life, and to inform our understanding. We may do this through Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit. God sees the full picture, God knows the full context, and it might be that in the here and now we wonder why certain things happen, but the truth is God is always in control and God has a plan. That is a plan that began at the creation of the world, which will be realised in the fullness of time. There really is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.
A key part of God’s plan was, of course, the sending of himself – Jesus is fully man and fully God – God incarnate, in the flesh. It is incredible that God would go to such an extraordinary lengths to redeem us and restore our relationship with him. Through Jesus, born of a woman, born under the law, we have received “sonship” and been adopted as God’s children. It never ceases to amaze me what a privilege that is. We are no longer slaves, but God’s children, and since we are his children, he has made us also his heirs. Just take a moment to think about that.
The truth is that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. God chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus. There was nothing special about Mary’s background or position. But we see from her response that she truly was full of grace and humility. When Mary said, “From now on all generations will call me blessed,” she wasn’t being proud. She was recognizing and accepting the incredible gift God had given her. If Mary had denied such a privileged position, she would have been throwing God’s blessing back at him. Pride is refusing to accept God’s gifts or taking credit for what God has done; humility is accepting the gifts and using them to praise and serve God. We often don’t realise what a gift we can be to one another and we can be that gift because of the blessings God has given us – our gifts, our talents, our resources.
Mary’s song is inspiring – a powerful declaration of faith which invites us to look at things from God’s perspective because what is seen is not always all that it seems. God takes the world’s values and expectations and turns them upside down. God himself would come to earth and face rejection by the proud, the powerful, and the rich. He would lift the lowly and fill the hungry. And God continues to do that today. God is mighty and merciful, ruthless against pride and injustice but sensitive to individual needs. God knows humanity’s sinful, stubborn nature, and he sent his Son to redeem sinful human beings.
Mary’s song echoes all the great Old Testament themes of redemption, freedom, and justice, and demonstrates incredible wisdom and her understanding of God’s plan and purpose. She captured a vision and understanding of God that would sustain her through Jesus’ earthly life, his ministry, his death and his resurrection. Mary’s life and testimony invites us to trust in God, to capture that vision too and to see things from God’s perspective, quietly confident that God’s will will be done. Her example invites us to embrace Jesus’ salvation that brings deliverance from the oppressions of sin, sickness, and materialism. Lord, help us to have faith like Mary and open our eyes that we might recognise you at work in our lives as your plan unfolds. Thank you that you have a plan to prosper us and not to harm us. Help us to trust in you and see the world through your eyes. Through your Holy Spirit, may you give us understanding of your Holy Word that we can write it on the tablets of our hearts and apply it in our lives. Amen