A few weeks ago I had yet another moment where I was in awe of the way God weaves together lessons I am learning through different areas of my life into one beautiful score of music and lyrics so that I have a new song to sing for that season. Sometimes the lessons will be difficult or full of delight, but every time seeing Him work through different people, situations, studies, and more to bring them to me all at once leaves me in awe of His grace and goodness.
The kids and I had just recently changed our fruit of the Spirit focus to joy and had begun to look for it in our lessons, daily Bible reading, and life opportunities. That morning our reading was in Luke 1 as we continued slowly praying, talking, and growing through the New Testament during breakfast. We read a story that I couldn’t even count the number of times I have heard, read, or thought about. And yet, again, that living Word jumped out at me in a brand new way, and there was certainly no difficulty in seeing and hearing true joy in the story.
There was sweet young Mary struggling through everything that her pregnancy meant, particularly in that culture. There weren’t angels appearing every night to keep it constantly fresh that this was all a beautiful gift from God. People weren’t painting halos on her head and addressing her as Madonna, the holy mother of Jesus. Who knows if her own mother and father believed her? Did she wipe away tears and try to put up a few emotional walls before she left her house, to brace for the stares, whispers, or even worse? Did anyone in her life except Joseph understand? Did she feel like she was fleeing for her very life and emotional sanity and stability as she “hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea” to see her cousin, Elizabeth? Or maybe no one knew about her yet. She was headed to visit very righteous, respected relatives in a time of current or coming, undeserved scandal. Did Elizabeth know about the pregnancy or was Mary rehearsing the entire time how she would tell it? “Well, there was this angel…no, God has chosen me to be the mother of the Christ…NOOO, definitely not that, sounds too presumptuous. Oh, how do I say it?!” As slowly as news traveled in those areas and as little as these subjects were discussed, did Mary know of Elizabeth’s pregnancy in her old age? Was she worried about explaining her sudden girlhood gift from God to an older woman who had begged God to open her barren womb for years and years and years?
It’s all told in a very short, familiar, few verses, but when I read these words, I welled up with tears for the first time. “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Can you imagine Mary’s heart in that moment? The sheer relief of being understood by another woman, of someone rejoicing from the depth of her being in YOUR calling and in YOUR joy. The incredible peace of not even having to explain yourself or put into words what is happening but having God reveal to another person how they can bless and minister to you. And the bubbling, downright fun of sharing their miraculous pregnancies and what God had brought into both of their lives. Is it not just gorgeous?! And is it any coincidence that for the next ten verses Mary pours out her heart glorifying God? Because of Elizabeth’s receiving of the Spirit, she was able to bless Mary, who then glorified God. That’s what we were created to do!
I went through that day thinking of how special that short story in Luke had now become to me. Then that evening in my Bible study, Beth Moore talked about the power of rejoicing in the calling of other women and refusing a spirit of competition even in seasons where the Lord moves us aside to use someone else as we go on to a different calling. She talked about the very special connection she has when in prayer for women who also lead Bible studies or teach women. Not an accident that I heard those two messages on the same day, I think. I got chills thinking of what would happen within the Body of Christ if women set aside envy and jealousy. If even in our struggles, we were still able to rejoice in the blessings of another. If we could with grace and love step down when it was time to let another step up to a particular calling. If we could be so in tune with the Holy Spirit that He could speak to us of the struggles, needs, delights, and ministries of another to the point that she didn’t even have to always explain herself to us. I think about the power those kind of women would have and my guess is that Satan shakes in his boots. As the father of lies, deception, miscommunication, and hurt feelings, where would his arsenal go? We would be unloading the women we loved from their burdens so that their hearts were free to rise up in bubbling joy to their Father!
I have always been blessed with beautiful friends and how I love them! Friends who do not compare their children with mine but love them dearly. Friends who do not rate my ministry in comparison to theirs, who do not question my decisions to make major life choices differently for my family than they do for theirs. And I have those one or two women at different seasons that God gives even more of an ability to at times know exactly what I need and to share my walk in a special way only they can. You know the difference – it’s not that you can talk to them so easily or often, it’s that you don’t always have to. I have an Elizabeth. I pray to God that I can and will be someone’s Elizabeth. And if we are all striving to be that in someone’s life, how many choruses of praise to God will be raised to Heaven where there might have been silence? May we be so much more than buddies or someone who brings fun and comfort to our friends, but someone who is a catalyst of the Holy Spirit causing the women in our lives to worship God more fully and joyfully!