A virgin conceiving. An arch angel appearing. God taking on flesh. Parenting the Savior of the world.
What do you do with things too hard to comprehend? What do you do when the ways and purposes of God dismantles your carefully planned life? How do you to take it all in without having a panic attack?
We probably feel a lot like the little boy in his first day of First Grade as he put his coat on after lunch. The teacher asked what he was doing. “I’m going home now,” he replied matter-of-factly.
“Oh, no. You are here all day now.” In which the little boy stomps his foot and demands, “Who signed me up for this?”
Who of us have not felt that same frustration? Who signed me up for this? we want to scream. I have done a lot of foot-stomping in my lifetime sometimes demanding God give an account of himself.
We don’t see any of this in Mary. Not even a hint. She wasn’t side-swiped by a God who doesn’t stay in his box. She had an incredible capacity to absorb a weighty reality and not get freaked out. As Ruth Haley Barton writes, that residing in Mary was “a profound readiness to set aside her own personal concerns in order to participate in the will of God as it unfolded in human history.” How could she respond with such abandon? Scripture gives us a clue:
“Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself” (Luke 2:19) TM.
“His mother held these things dearly, deep within herself” (Luke 2:51) TM.
Other translation use the terms, “treasured” and “pondered” which means “to consider something deeply, thoroughly and thoughtfully.” Long before the angel appeared that day, Mary had developed a reliable pattern of living: there was space in her life to be alone with God, to speak to him, to listen to him, to ponder his words deep in our heart. It was a welcomed and intentional space that gave calm to her chattering and anxious mind. It was a place to hear her own soul speak and to connect with God more deeply. It was a place of renewed perspective; where she could remember who God was and settle into who she was in such a way that she could respond to the angel’s proclamation, instantly and unwaveringly, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”
We need time to be alone with God in silence to be renewed and transformed and honors those things in us that rarely have a chance to surface. Gunilla Norris, in Inviting Silence, wrote, “By making room for silence, we resist the forces of the world which tell us to live an advertised life of surface appearances, instead of a discovered life – a life lived in contact with our senses, our feelings, our deepest thoughts and values.”
Yet almost everything within our world inhibits our ability to embrace such spaciousness in our lives. For the most part, stopping and quieting ourselves, and limiting distractions in the midst of our busy lives is sheer discipline. It’s totally counter-intuitive, but one of the premier disciplines of the soul. In silence we release our own agendas and we open ourselves to what God wants to give. “In it (silence) we are filled with the energy of God himself that makes us do all things with joy” (Mother Teresa).
The Advent season is the perfect time to create space in your life to meet with God because it is all about staying attentive to God’s presence in the hubbub of our busy lives. Don’t miss his coming today to you. Why not create a quiet place to meet with God and give him your undivided attention?