“ Do you think you could paint a life-sized, pregnant Mary?”
Came the text from my friend who helps operate our local care pregnancy center. Our little town hosts an “open house” Christmas event every year and the Center was offered a space on the main strip. Mary, the world’s most honored “unwed and pregnant teenaged mother” needed to be there. My friend had some funds set aside for the project and I was the “first person who came to mind.”
“Can you do this?” she asked.
Honestly, I was “greatly troubled” trying to discern what sort of greeting— or project— this might be. I’d never attempted anything like this before; I’m not “that kind” of artist. Seriously, there are people I greatly admire who do this sort of thing with a level of realism and depth that I can only dream of. When they paint a person, it actually looks like a person. Me? I’m a folk artist. I work with the “essence” of things and basically take “sow’s ears” and turn them into a reasonable level of “silk purse”. I call it “redemptive art”— taking what others ignore or throw away and craft it into something beautiful, worthy and useful. It’s what God did in me.
Could I do this?
I wasn’t sure.
However, I was certain of two things: this “starving” artist could certainly use the extra cash. Also, I’ve come to realize in my middle ages, that these types of opportunities and challenges have the potential to draw me into newer and deeper territories in my walk with God. I’ve learned that even, and maybe especially, in the things I do not know or understand, that to lean in past the fear and embrace the challenge before me often means the difference between growing or going stagnant in what I (think) I already know.
So, I said yes.
Then God did two truly remarkable things. Just one short week before, He split open my heart and mind during one of our annual performance jobs with the liturgical dance company, Praise In Motion. They had reworked their Christmas offering and this year, one of the opening scenes depicted the moment of visitation through Mary’s point of view. The angel Gabriel appeared and the girl from Nazareth danced, working out her salvation with fear and trembling before God. It was a song I’d never heard before: “Be Born In Me”
the sentiment…this Season.
I was overwhelmed.
Then I knew what God was showing me. I could see what He was asking me… asking you..again. Anew.
If that wasn’t enough, God performed a virtual “miracle” at this busy time of the year; He cleared my calendar. I had two full, wide-open days to fully explore and experience this encounter with God through Mary’s eyes.
It was an invitation to dance with Him and my imagination through Luke chapter one. There I read and re-read every word. Mary; visited by the angel, embraced by the Spirit, overshadowed by God and enfleshed with the Child; our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Then, with the allowed perspective of a 21st century Christian, I dove deeper beneath the surface to the Spirit-filled space in between and amongst each recorded word to soak in the emotion, the danger and fear, then the promise, the recognition and finally, the resolve.
The powerful, life-giving resolve of a submitted servant entrusted to the perfect will of God: “Behold, I am the maidservant of the Lord. May it be to me according to your Word.” (Luke 1:38a)
I believe, at that very moment in Mary’s story she, overcome by the Spirit and overshadowed by the Word of the Lord— as terrified as she could be, submitted and obeyed and thus, conceived Jesus. It was in the very moment of submission and obedience that the promise and salvation of God was conceived.
Sit with that for a moment.
I was stunned.
Because it’s no different today.
Even now, as we go about our “business and busyness”, God presents His great gift of
salvation to us. Through the Spirit, by His Word, God offers that Jesus be born in us again, now… in all these daily moments.
Today. Watching and waiting, He’s making a way for us to also say, “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be to me according to your Word.”
Life-long Christian or brand-new Believer.
The Seeker. The Confused. The Hopeless and the Lost.
It was from this perspective and with the smallest hint of Mary-like courage that I picked up my brush and got to work. The song became my sound track, playing over and over while the Spirit of Christmas permeated and revived my soul.
I worked, inviting, at times begging. Jesus to once again this Christmas, be born in and through me . Deeply, the words recorded in Scripture mingled with the song…
“I am not brave. I’ll never be.
The only thing my heart can offer is a vacancy.
I’m just a girl. Nothing more.
But I am willing. I am yours…… Be born in me.”
There it is: resolve.
My friend… I truly hope that in whatever circumstances may be bearing down hard on you or if maybe you feel carried along on the wave of this “modern day” celebration, barely able to keep your head above waters… somehow, you can slip away to that quiet place with Jesus this Christmas — expecting— and find that if you will simply submit, He’ll be born.. anew.. in you too.
Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; may it be to me according to your Word. Amen.
Linked today at Tell His Story