Thursday, December 16
Once again Luke uses simple words to describe profound circumstances: While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
Nine months earlier Mary broke out in a song of adoration when Elizabeth blessed her. Did you notice that there is no record of Mary singing now?? Her belly is taut, pain has begun and intensified, sweat drips from her brow. A midwife (or Joseph?) stands nearby with dampened cloth to wipe that sweat, tools to cut the umbilical cord, soft cloths to swaddle the infant. No Gabriel here. This is real life down from the mountaintop of angelic announcement.
After a unique mountaintop spiritual experience that produces not only our verbal praise but also a feeling of exultation (which is what I believe Mary experienced in Elizabeth’s presence), comes life in the valley. We are convinced God led us into a particular area of ministry and can hardly wait for “saved souls.” We’re sure that a new neighborhood will warmly welcome us. Engagement to the most wonderful woman or man on earth seems a sure promise of marital bliss. Following hard after God for a lifetime guarantees a pain/disease-free older age.
Mountaintop experiences are important and valuable. Rich blessings are to be treasured and remembered. But valley life is not only the norm but is ordained by the loving Heavenly Father who says, I will never leave you nor forsake you.
Are you living on a mountain or in a valley this Advent? Are you ready to sing for joy? Or is your brow sweaty from disappointment and discouragement? Is there pain from unavoidable and unexpected circumstances? No matter the road, we can travel well with the promised Immanuel, God with us.