“My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Luke 1:46
I wrote earlier of Mary’s incredible response to the angel Gabriel’s proclamation that God has chosen her to give birth to the world’s savior. Not only did she willingly abandon her dreams, and surrender her expectation of how life should go, she actually broke out in song of God’s goodness!
It’s funny how most of my prayers seem to center around asking God to change my circumstances. I want God to conform to my cherished plans for my life but Mary would have none of that. Mary understood, as Eugene Peterson writes, “Joy always involved delight in what God is doing.” She embraced a deeper reality of God’s purposes and ways which were creatively higher than her own and responded with abandon to the activity of God in her life.
Joy happens, not when all is well, but when we experience ourselves drawn into the whirlwind of God’s creative activity in the world. Mary’s life is swept up in the great movement of God’s love in the world and ecstatic joy pours from her: “My soul glorifies the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of her servant” (Luke 1:46-47).
Once we realize God’s is constantly at work orchestrating our lives that we might find meaning, value, purpose and identity (Acts 17:26-28) do we quit obsessing for control and come to God with open hands and are able to receive the life Jesus came to give us. Once we view the spiritual life, as Mary did, as a pilgrimage of deepening responsiveness to God’s control of our life do we let go of our white-knuckled grip on our carefully constructed plans and allow him define our lives.
Only then, will we learn what it means to embrace a God whose ways are higher than our ways; who loves us deeply and invites us to work and walk with him. We will then learn to trust him and that he knows what he is doing and join him on an adventure filled with mystery, and messiness, joy and hardship, beauty and disappointments. This faithful pilgrimage of deepening responsiveness to God’s ways in our lives invites us to abandon what we thought the journey should look like and trust that something will happen in us that is far beyond our wildest imaginations.
Once we learn to keep in step with a dance in which we are not leading, a deep-rooted joy is available that is not dependant on circumstances. And who knows? You may even break forth in song.
Questions for Reflection:
What “treasured” ideal are you holding on to with “white knuckles?”
What keeps you from releasing it to God?