The past few days, here in North Carolina, everyone’s been preparing for “a significant winter storm” while at the same time hustling and bustling around to get things checked of the long, Christmas “to-do” list. Our governor stated this past Friday in a press release: “This storm comes at a time of year when North Carolinians are usually hearing carols about snow, not actually seeing it. But this time, the real thing is headed our way and North Carolina is getting prepared,” Governor Cooper said. “A winter storm’s not a Christmas carol snow. It’s serious, and you need to take steps now to get your family ready.”
And he was correct, along with the meteorologists. Today we watched one foot of snow gracefully, yet heavily, fall from the sky on this early December Sunday. We had prepared for it though and had all the ingredients to make homemade beef vegetable soup, grilled cheese sandwiches and muddy buddies.
Prepare. That can be a descriptive word for predicted snow storms but especially the month of December every year. Prepare the list of gifts to purchase. Prepare food to include at a get together you’re attending and/or your child’s school holiday party. Prepare the gifts you’ve gotten for others by wrapping them. Prepare the menu for Christmas dinner and then the grocery list. Prepare your attitude to be kind when traffic will be a nightmare and long lines are inevitable.
While I experience each of those things the month of December, I also prepare my heart for the day we celebrate the priceless and best gift ever – God’s Son, Jesus, who entered this world as a newborn baby through a teenage girl whom was favored by God to deliver His Son. As many of you know, her name was Mary.
The difference though is that she had no idea that she was about to prepare to be a mother, much less become pregnant while still a virgin. In the Bible in Luke 1:26-33 he wrote, “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’ Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.’”
Umm, yeah. I’d be troubled like Mary too. But God, with His plan and power, favored and chose Mary to be the earthly mom of Jesus, to nurse him, change his diapers, teach him how to talk, take care of his boo-boos when he was playing with his siblings and scratches his knee on a rock. God chose Mary to teach him about the God who created the world, who made a promise to Abraham that he’d have a huge family, and freed the slaves in Egypt and gave them the Promised Land 40 years later. God chose Mary to train Jesus to have good manners and how to be polite and kind to others. God also chose Mary to love and love on Jesus as all mothers love to love their children. And probably not even grasping it, still thanked God for choosing her to give birth to His Son, our Savior.
This is the third year I’ve read this Christmas Advent devotional: Come, Lord Jesus: The Weight of Waiting. It still draws me close to Him when I read them. This year, this one has especially captured my attention.
“In Advent as we remember the wild obedience of young Mary, we hear the word, ‘favor’ spoken over her, and are reminded that through God’s choosing of her, by the inception of Jesus, the word, favor is spoken to us also. Through Jesus, God chooses us – He grafts us into the beautifully gnarled bark of His family tree. Through the flesh and blood of His Son He chooses us, His creation, for salvation. When we remember our own standing as one favored by God, aren’t we that much more willing to say ‘yes’ to what God has invited us into – even when it appears unconventional and dangerous?”
This question is given to us: What does it mean to you to know that God chose you, that He chooses you still? I want you to really think about that question too.
I think that’s a question good for us, as believers, to ask ourselves on a regular basis. Living in this world we are today, we can easily be distracted, lied to, give into peer pressure, and stay busy just to name a few. But if and when I remind myself, or when God reminds me, that HE CHOSE ME, I’m awestruck and sometimes overwhelmed. He chose little ‘ole me who’s a sinner and broken and not worthy of being anywhere near Him? Yet He did because of His ENORMOUS GRACE and LOVE. And that goes for you, friend too. HE didn’t choose you and me just once, but each and every day and second. HE chooses YOU as His bride, His daughter, His disciple, His friend. He has CHOSEN YOU and He STILL CHOOSES YOU, and HE will CONTINUE to CHOOSE YOU for the rest of your life – which is eternity – and that’s a LONG time!!!
Chew on that as you munch on some of your favorite Christmas treats, friend.