Rachel Cobleigh (reveilles) wrote,
Rachel Cobleigh

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Mary and me

I have never before been so happy to get my period. It came this morning, four days after I was accustomed to it coming. To know that I am not pregnant is a HUGE relief. Yesterday was a low-grade concern; jcobleigh knew, but it was not until this morning, when I still had not a single feeling of bloat, cramp/nausea, or weight-gain, never mind a single reddish-brown spot, that I started to really worry. I found myself contemplating how unprepared we are financially for a child, how it would take some of the wind out of my younger sister's sails for her recent engagement announcement. I SO MUCH did not want to have to announce it. The idea of telling my doctoral advisor was the most dreaded of all. ("Against all of our best attempts to the contrary...I'm...pregnant," I would stutter, and then receive the anticipated look of disapproval.) I faced the very possible reality that God wasn't going to let me finish my Ph.D...

Part of me wanted to whine, "But I don't want to have a baby!" whilst jcobleigh's emphatic, "I'm not ready for a baby," rang in my ears (and was heartily seconded by myself!) I was reminded, however, that I really do trust that His plan for my life is better than my plan for my life, so I set aside the whining and acknowledged Him. I am His obedient servant, and His will provide. He has never failed to do a kick-butt job of providing for me before. Still, I quaked inside at the idea of such new territory and necessary changes and the reality that I would be even more constrained. After less than five months of marriage! No time at all to really adjust to married life before children arrive! No time for preparation! Would jcobleigh be forced to get a job? Would we have to move? Images of my aunt and uncle flowed past, along with their three children, the fourth on the way, and their tales of the total ineffectiveness of the pill...

I understood, for the first time, something of what it is like for someone unprepared for a pregnancy to find herself pregnant. What must it be like for someone who isn't married, doesn't have the love and support of her family around her, and can't support herself and a child financially?

And then I thought: Mary. All this and the terrible censure of her community as well! A fiancee who would reject her. Her chances of future marriage would be shot entirely, and her child would be a bastard. No opportunity for a good marriage for him, either. She would be an outcast her entire life. No wonder, when the angel cheerily appeared and said, "Greetings, favored one, the Lord is with you!" she was suspicious. When does God choose a little nobody woman like herself? The feeling of dread is obvious and real. When the cheery angel tried to comfort her with the news that she was pregnant, I'm sure that the last thing she wanted to do was jump for joy. The old funny/sad/angry Jewish question to God, "We're Your chosen people, yes. Couldn't You choose someone else?" must have been her thoughts at that moment. It's a dubious honor, and all the while, there's a cheery angel booming out what sounds like the worst thing that you could possibly imagine. You're quaking in your sandals.

Well, you might as well swallow your horror at this proclamation, straighten your back, and decide to honor God, because it is a miracle, after all. An angel has appeared in the room and is saying that your child will be greatly honored--and has reminded you that nothing is impossible with God: your barren cousin (who is well past child-bearing years) is pregnant! God will provide for you, you know this. You acknowledge the angel's message with the only words possible, and after the angel has gone, all you can do is sit for a moment and try to quiet the quaking in your soul. You have not heard any news of Elizabeth for some months, now. You must visit her! She has always been sensitive and encouraging to you. You can tell her of this whole frightening experience. Will she truly be pregnant? Are you really pregnant? How can it be? Of course God can do impossible things, but...would you really be the mother of--what did the angel say?--a holy child, a son, with such a common name as 'Jesus'? Would he really be the king of the Jews? The "Son of God"? What would that mean? How could God be his father? Oh no! Joseph!

Your family is poor and you are lucky to have contracted a fiancee at all. He will refuse to marry you! Oh no oh no oh no...you must go and ask your parents at once for permission to visit Elizabeth...she will know what to do...

So different an experience than the serene picture of a Mary in immaculate blue-and-white robes, holding a water jug, talking to an angel and accepting the angel's words with joy and otherwordly calm. I think she went to Elizabeth's home agitated, and at Elizabeth's miraculous greeting, found that all of the angel's words were confirmed and that it was going to be more than okay--it was going to be amazing! Mary chose to obey God and accept His plan for her, even though it frightened her greatly. Not only does this picture seem more human and real, it makes her acquiesence worth more.

I can't claim anything quite as showy or noteworthy in my own experience, but I am grateful for a new appreciation of Mary's obedience and God's provision.

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. The angel came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled by his words and began to wonder about the meaning of this greeting. So the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God! Listen: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.” Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I have not had sexual relations with a man?” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called the Son of God.

“And look, your relative Elizabeth has also become pregnant with a son in her old age—although she was called barren, she is now in her sixth month! For nothing will be impossible with God.” So Mary said, “Yes, I am a servant of the Lord; let this happen to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

In those days Mary got up and went hurriedly into the hill country, to a town of Judah, and entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She exclaimed with a loud voice, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child in your womb! And who am I that the mother of my Lord should come and visit me? For the instant the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that that which was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

-- Luke 1:26-45


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