Thursday, December 17, 2009
Bearing the Fruit of God's Promises
I love Christmastime. I even like most everything about the hustle and bustle of the season. But what I love most is pondering the story of Christmas. It seems like every year there is a different aspect of Jesus' birth that stands out to me.
Last night my daughter and I were watching The Nativity Story on DVD. As I watched it this time, I was impacted by Mary and Joseph's willing hearts to do whatever God asked of them. Often I have focused on what an honor it would have been to be chosen by God to bear His Son. But this time the thing that stood out was the heaviness and cost of that task. Mary was a virgin promised to marry. As her belly grew big and round with the life inside of her, those around her most likely judged her character in a negative way, figuring that she had broken her vow to be chaste until marriage. Even her parents must have wondered if she was spinning a story about carrying the Son of God! Such a thing was never heard of before. I'm sure Mary herself often wondered what was happening to her.
Joseph obeyed God through the message in a dream and took Mary as his wife, even though the baby she carried was not his. In doing so, his character was probably also judged in a negative manner. People could have assumed that he had broken his vows to remain pure until marriage, or perhaps he was covering up for a sinful fiance'. Yet he bore this burden for God's sake. Even after Jesus was born, I am sure Mary and Joseph had little idea how this "Son of God" thing was going to unfold. They could only raise him as they would any son--day by day. Every other direction would have to come from God in His time.
I desire to be used powerfully by God--to be chosen by him to bear great fruit for His kingdom. What I often fail to recognize is the incredible cost there might be in that assignment. There could be negative judgments from others about the credibility of what I carry inside of me. I may have to navigate through seasons of self doubt as well. Can I really believe that God has spoken to me even when it costs me a great deal? Even as some of these promises are born, can I walk through the process of trusting God to show me how to steward the fruit He gives to me?
The Christmas story assures me that God looks compassionately on my human frailty. He went out of His way to reveal Himself to all mankind in a way they could understand--whether they were blue collar shepherds or upper class wise men. All He asked for was obedience--to follow Him at His word. So, in light of that revelation, my prayer this Christmas season is that my heart will respond as Mary's did--"Be it done to me according to Your Word."