As the dust settled last Saturday night after one of the busiest weeks of my life as Campus Pastor at Blanchard Warrenville, I collapsed on the couch, hauled my laptop out and wearily turned it on to finish my sermon preparation for the next morning. I had been thinking about Mary’s response to Gabriel’s message in Luke Chapter 1 over and over during the busyness of Christmas Sharing frozen turkey runs and multiple sorting sessions — full heart, weary body.
Luke told us that shortly after Gabriel visited Mary to tell her how God had chosen her to bear Jesus, she hurried off to be with Elizabeth in the hill country of Judea. The unmistakable joy of the Holy Spirit dances between Elizabeth, John and Mary as they proclaim God’s mighty presence coming close to bless and save them all.
I’d been moved by Mary’s reaction to Elizabeth’s loud blessing. Her first response? She chooses to praise and glorify God because “he took notice of his lowly servant girl” (NLT). God noticed Mary; he had her in His mind. God remembered her. When I take a moment to really think about what this means, it’s overwhelming–that the God of the universe, the grand Creator and initiator of all things, has Mary and me in mind–that he thinks of me, cares for me and longs to call me his own.
There on the couch last Saturday night, as the laptop got hotter and my eyes got heavier with exhaustion, I remembered Phil Vischer’s beautiful story called A Snoodle’s Tale. A little Snoodle, rejected by his peers and elders for not fitting in, for not being a good enough Snoodle painter, leaves his hurtful home and starts out on a journey–not sure where to go but desperately seeking life’s meaning and real acceptance. While wandering the highways and byways of the Snoodle kingdom, the little lost painter finds the gracious old maker of all the Snoodles who tells him:
Most of the Snoodles,” the old one said sadly,
“Just use their paints to make others feel badly.”
The young Snoodle pondered the things he’d been told.
Then wondering something, grew suddenly bold.
“But sir, if you made this incredible land,
Can’t you make Snoodles obey your command?”
The big one smiled warmly, then said to the small,
“A gift that’s demanded is no gift at all.”
“With that the small Snoodle reached into his pack
and pulled out the picture he’d made ten miles back.
“They’re far-lilies sir, from over the ridge.”
The old one beamed bright and said,
“That’s for my fridge!”
After the small Snoodle’s picture was hung
The old one bent down to the face of the young and said,
“Here’s what you look like; Here’s how I see you.
Keep this in your pack, and you’ll find it will free you
From all of the pictures and all of the lies
That others make up just to cut down your size.”
–excerpt from “A Snoodle’s Tale” by Phil Vischer
Mary could have completely broken down and fallen to pieces under the weight of God’s chosen burden for her, but instead (like the little Snoodle), it’s this simple reality–that He remembered her, that Mary’s picture was on His fridge–that moves her to trust His challenging, life-changing plan.
I’m grateful for God’s work in my life over this last week to consider the enormity of Mary’s choice to trust borne out of her confidence that God remembered her. Now comes the tricky part of applying it in my everyday life this Advent season. A wise friend counseled me to understand that entering fully into the reality that God remembers us takes time and intent over the long haul of life. He’s right–it’s not always easy to believe that God remembers us when life is in turmoil and the next big Christmas event is starting and you’re still tired from the last one.
So, cognizant of whatever is happening in our present, everyday life, what would it look like for each of us to write a song to God like Mary did in Luke 1:46-55? As we remember God’s story, His pursuit of us as dearly loved children that not one should be lost (and in spite of [or in light of?] our circumstances), what would our willful prayers of praise declare today?