After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod’s death. ~ Matthew 2:13-15
I’ve got Mary on the brain this holiday season. After reading my friend Zohary’s wonderful blog post, hearing Libby Vincent’s cool sermon, and now spending a couple of days working on this illustration, I’ve been thinking about her quite a bit.
Here is my take away from all this pondering: Mary was fierce.
Usually, when her name comes up, I picture a serene, porcelain, saintly lady that lights up on people’s lawns. She is always seated, sterile, blank faced, and permanently admiring Christ in the manger in swaddling clothes as if she just bought him at a store instead of pushed him out of her body.
But after spending some time with her story this holiday season I am truly humbled by her warrior-like journey. God bursts into her young life and makes her privy to the most intense, miraculous plan ever and she basically says, “Ok.”
Even Moses argues with God when he asked him to do something! But not Mary. She trusts God. She believes the angel Gabriel who tells her she is highly favored and that God is with her. (Luke 1:28) Amazingly, in all her teenage wisdom, she stays open to whatever God asks.
And he asks her to go through some gnarly stuff!
Birthing Jesus in a barn. Last I checked- ain’t no pinterest boards called “barn birth.” She was essentially alone with only Joseph there to “help”. No doula. No midwife. No women from her family. And she was a virgin… think about that for a minute. Ouch.
Fleeing to Egypt with a newborn. What? As if her labor experience wasn’t enough then God immediately asks her to move to another country for an indefinite amount of time. That’s just what all my new-mom friends talk about doing! “I can’t wait to pack all this nursery stuff up and go live in Guatemala…no jobs… don’t know anyone there…and I don’t speak Spanish but whatevs! See you in a few years… maybe?”
Raising the savior of the world whose kingdom will reign forever. Hello pressure?!! Can you imagine seeing toddler Jesus doing something dangerous? “Jesus put down that saw! Get down from up there!! Spit that out!!!” Or balancing all her other kids that came later who asked, “Why does Jesus get to pray in the fields instead of cleaning up sawdust in the shop?” Awkward! “Sorry honey… you’re special but Jesus is…umm…special special?”
Watching him die in a public execution. Really God? Why ask Mary to live through this? The thought of her having to watch the crucifixion makes me sick to my stomach. I imagine the prophecy of Simeon racing back to the forefront of her mind as she experienced the pain of losing him in such an awful way. “And a sword will pierce your own soul…” I read a bit about whether Mary actually saw the resurrected Christ. Scholars say different things. The odds are good that they shared an interaction at some point. Either way she did everything God asked of her and she still had to endure that horrible day.
I wonder if that was why God chose her to bear the burden of being entrusted with raising Jesus? He knew she weren’t no porcelain lady. He must have made her of strong stuff; creating her with an exceptional ability to trust and rely on His power and strength. She teaches me that having God’s favor does not mean your life will be comfortable or easy.
I illustrated this moment because I wanted to spend some time celebrating her for the courageous, faithful, warrior mother she was; facing down one of her many crazy challenges.