Mary: Remembering the Call
Have you ever used the past to remind you why you're doing what you're doing? Sometimes looking backward reminds us of our calling, it reminds us of what we were thinking when we made the choice to follow the path that we find ourselves on, and it usually reminds us of how every effort, pain, and frustration is worth it. At least it does in parenting!
I'm going to get real with you. There are times when I don't like my kids. Oh, I still love them. I just have these moments when I don't like them. I'd be willing to bet I'm not alone in this struggle. My oldest child, while adorable and funny and compassionate, can be the most frustrating pain in my side. He humbles me regularly as I find myself feeling completely incapable of parenting him. Sometimes I even question if I'm compatible with parenting at all. He's the opposite of what I imagined my children to be like. While I desired and active kid, I have constant moments where I think "maybe I should have been more specific about this." Being his parent is a lot like when I was 5 and my mom had me take our German Shepherd outside to go to the bathroom. I still remember hanging onto that leash for dear life as our dog bolted across the yard!
More often than not, I find myself at the end of my rope with this kid. (Pun intended? ha!) I'm hanging on by a single strand unsure if I'm going to survive this season! I crumple down into a heap of tears and helplessness and this is when I turn to the past. I think about when I so longed to be a mother. I think about that intense desire to create a little life that when I looked into that sweet face, I saw a reflection of myself. I imagined a relationship with my kids that was happy. While pregnant with him, I remember the constant fears of whether or not he'd live to birth. I remembered the intense need to protect this little life as I prayed for God to let him bake a little longer. I remember when they laid him on my stomach and seeing this lump of limbs WITH HAIR! (I was amazingly bald as a baby and of my parent's four kids, only one of us had hair at birth.)
More than anything, I remember that this impossible child was my miracle baby who made me a mom. He was my dream come true.
This realization makes me stand up, dust the dirt off myself, wipe my face, and get back in the game. No matter how impossible he might be, he still needs me to be his mom.
Read Luke 2:41-52
Now here's sort of how I imagine this scene (from a mom's perspective). I think that 12 years of Jesus depending on Mary and Joseph, growing up like any other normal kid, caused his parents to relax and treat him like He truly was like any other normal kid. Except that He wasn't any other normal kid, He was God's Son. His only Son who had been sent to the earth to later die on a cross for our salvation.
But 12 years.... That's a lot of time to live an ordinary life and as a parent, it would be SO EASY to lose sight of the call, mission, and purpose of being Jesus' earthly parents. It would be so easy to even explain away all the miraculous hype that surrounded His conception and birth. It would be easy to even agree that it had all been a dream.
I wonder if this whole scene of Jesus in the Temple played out in front of Mary and Joseph's eyes as a simple reminder of who Jesus was. With those simple words, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" He reminded them of His identity. And in reminding them of His identity, He would have reminded them of the details that surrounded His conception, pregnancy, and birth.
Mary would have remembered her encounter with Gabriel. She would have remembered her willingness to submit to God's plan for her life. She would have remembered the miracle of Elizabeth and Zechariah's John (John the Baptist). She would have remembered what had been foretold about both boys. She would have remembered the Holy Spirit's involvement in the conception, but also when John heard Mary's voice for the first time. She would have remembered Jesus' birth, the shepherds, the wise men, the gifts with great meaning, and when Jesus was presented in the Temple. All the excitement, all the foreknowledge of her suffering, all the words spoken over Jesus, all the things she stored up in her heart and had thought about at that time would have all come rushing back.
She'd be left, standing there, and remembering her place in this great story. She'd remember her beautiful place as God's servant.
Remembering the Call
Remembering the call reminds us of WHO we belong to (and who our children belong to). When Jesus talks about being in His Father's house, it's such a weighty statement. It carries weight and it carries the expectation that God has a role in our lives, just like He has a role in Jesus' life. That weight and expectation reminds of the intention to follow God's plan and purpose for our lives.
Remembering the call reminds us of our place in God's master plan. Are we stepping in God's way or are we allowing Him to lead us and lead our children? Like Mary, I choose to believe that my place in God's master plan is as a servant. I'm not the grand ruler over my kids, I'm a servant playing a small role in story of humanity. I don't have the authority to dictate the paths my children should be on, the best I can do is point them to Him and encourage them to follow His lead.
Remembering the call reminds us of the past and focuses our minds on the future. It reminds us to make purposeful choices accordingly. I look at the past that reminds me of the journey of how I got here today, and then I look at the future as I, once again, choose to step up and be the mom they need me to be. I'm challenged to be the mom who submits to God's plan for my life and to model that for my children.
Are you noticing those subtle invitations around you to remember why you are here in this season and stage in your life? Are you accepting the invitation to glance at the road behind you to see how far you've come and to refocus you on where you're going? Let's be like Mary and take a moment to remember the call.