One of the challenges of parenthood is admitting your child is growing up. We want to keep them cute, sweet and innocent, protecting them from trouble and pain as long as we are able, but try as we might to keep them little, they grow up. Before you know it they are teenagers, learning to stand on their own, accepting new levels of responsibility as they mature right before our eyes!
I remember when our oldest daughter was learning to drive. I was riding in the passenger’s seat and she was driving. I remember thinking, “Those telephone poles are really flying by aren’t they? How fast are we going? 55? 60? ” In fact we were only going about 35 or 40 miles per hour. What was frightening to me was that this child, my baby girl was operating a motor vehicle and I was riding in it! I was putting my life in the hands of this child that I had raised! How could I trust my child with such a huge responsibility?
I suppose we all struggle with trusting our children with more and more responsibility. Are they really ready for making major decisions – moving off to college, living on their own, marriage, career? We still see them as our little boy or girl don’t we? Which brings us to our Advent reading today.
Imagine the trust that the Heavenly Father placed in a young Israeli girl in the little town of Nazareth. (Church tradition suggests Mary was perhaps only a teenager.) I wonder if the other angels in heaven were shocked as they watched Gabriel speaking to Mary. “What is God thinking? Why, she’s only a child! How can the Almighty trust the plan of redemption to a simple peasant girl? How can an inexperienced teenager be trusted with caring for the Son of God? Surely there is someone with more experience that could be entrusted with raising the Holy One of God?”
But Gabriel knew what the Almighty must have told him as he started on his mission to Nazareth. “This isn’t about experience or age, this is about obedience. This is about My favor and a young girl’s willing and surrendered heart.
“Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
“The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’”
The salvation of the world rests first in the response and then in the womb of a young Israeli girl. “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.”
Take a moment to consider the extraordinary trust the Father placed in this young girl, that she would give birth to the Son of God, that she would love and nurture and care for and teach the Holy One. What a responsibility.
Then take a moment to consider the trust He has placed in you, that you would carry his presence, his love and his message to a broken and hurting world. It’s still not about experience or age, it’s about obedience and a willing, surrendered heart. May we respond as Mary, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”