My 16 year old recently got her driver’s license. After a few days of excitement, she walked into the kitchen and said, “I don’t want to drive anymore.”
Eyebrows raised, I looked at her with a smile and asked, “Why not?”
She replied, “I just don’t want to stress about finding where I am anymore and figuring out how long it takes to get there. I don’t want to be a grown up!”
(And there might have been an angry man who honked at her mercilessly, but I digress.)
I walked over and hugged her and said, “I’m sorry you don’t want to drive anymore.”
She slumped a bit and sighed, “I think it’s more about not wanting to be a grownup.”
I gently whispered in her ear, “If it makes you feel any better, there are days I don’t want to be a grownup either.”
We looked at each other and she remarked, “You know that one sermon where the pastor said when we get to heaven we will rule there with God? I don’t want that. I just want to be a child. Let someone else figure everything out.”
I wonder if Mary wanted to be a grown up. Sometimes I forget that she was probably around 14 years old when the angel greeted her with the overwhelming announcement that she was going to have God’s son.
I don’t know what the days were like for Mary after the Angel’s visit. I don’t know if she traveled with someone for the 80 mile trip to her cousin Elizabeth’s home or if she spent the long journey alone processing through confusion, doubt and fear. What I do know is that when she arrived in the hill country of Judea, Mary began her prayer with, “My soul magnifies the Lord.”
Magnify. I know it means she praised and glorified the Lord, but “magnify” also means “to make bigger.” As I consider what my soul magnifies, it isn’t always the Lord. I magnify my worries, my fears, my struggles, my longings. They become all that I see. I want to learn how to magnify the Lord more.
I tend to think if I were Mary, my less than magnificent Magnificat might have sounded something like this:
“Why did God pick me? This doesn’t make any sense. No one is going to believe me. Does God even know how hard this going to be for me? I can’t do this. I am so young. I have my whole life ahead of me. What if Joseph leaves me and I am all alone. Is this what I want? I don’t know. I just want to be happy.”
I am not saying Mary didn’t wrestle with the angel’s news, but what we see by the time she greets her cousin is that her soul made God bigger and herself smaller. Mary didn’t use the word, “I” one time in her Magnificat. Her focus was on the Lord.
Listen to what she understood about Him:
He has been mindful…
His mercy extends…
He has performed mighty deeds…
He has scattered those who are proud…
He has brought down rulers and lifted up the humble…
He has filled the hungry…
He has sent the rich away empty…
He has helped….
Remember my daughter’s plea that someone else would figure it all out? God has. That is the good news of Advent, Christmas, and every day.
It doesn’t mean it will be easy. Consider some snapshots of Mary’s life. She delivered her baby away from home, after traveling about 70 miles while pregnant, which must have been slightly uncomfortable even in the best of circumstances. Sometime later, Joseph and Mary took their son and fled in the middle of the night as refugees to Egypt because the evil Herod wanted to kill Jesus. Mary continued to obey God in spite of the uncertainty, in spite of the fear, in spite of the loss of familiar comforts. And more than thirty years later, she stood near the cross and watched her bruised and beaten son die a horrible death. I cannot imagine the depth of her pain.
But her soul still magnified the Lord. She rejoiced in God her Savior. She trusted and believed that “His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.”
When my daughter lamented that she didn’t want to rule in heaven and just wanted to be a child, I know she was speaking from a place of weariness and worry, but when I heard her say those words, I found myself getting teary. Life has felt a little scary lately and trying to figure out how to make things better just gets overwhelming. So in my daughter’s desire to be a child, I heard wisdom. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Can we allow ourselves such rest this Christmas? Can we magnify the Lord and grow in our understanding and trust that He is with us? He figured things out by giving us His son. That is our hope. That is the gift of Christmas. He is with us. Let us continue to encourage one another with this Good News.