What do you think of when you hear the phrase “Woman of God?” If you’re anything like me, you probably imagine some unattainable, perfect superhuman, who’s hair is always set in place, and whose children are all on the dean’s honor roll. (I know that lady and she is intimidating!)
We are going to spend the next several weeks studying ladies of the Bible. I think it’s easy to read about them and feel like they had grand, divine abilities that we don’t and can’t possess. The truth is that these ladies were just normal gals, like you and me. We can learn so much from their faith and from their struggles. I’ll bet that a 12-year-old pregnant girl probably doesn’t register on your Woman-of-God radar. But today, we are going to dig into Mary’s, story and learn how she Lived Loved.
I gave my heart to the Lord when I was 14. It was around Christmas so every message in youth group was about this young girl named Mary, her fiancé Joseph, and their miraculous son, Jesus. Obviously, the star of the story is Christ! But I couldn’t get Mary out of my focus.
No one knows for sure how old Mary was when she delivered our Savior. Most theologians say that she was very young – between 12 and 15 years old. I was the same age as her when I learned about the Christmas story. I’m not sure that I would have responded the way she did, if the Holy Spirit suddenly delivered a tiny package to me that could cost me everything.
So, let’s take a look at the conversation Mary had with the angel Gabriel concerning her future Son. I am going to be quoting bits and pieces of Luke 1:26-56 (MSG) throughout our time together. This text reveals some of the characteristics that shows how Mary Lived Loved. I believe you’re going to see that she was a lot like you and me.
1. Mary was afraid. Verse 29 tells us that, “She was thoroughly shaken.” Then, Gabriel told her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear.” He said that because she was afraid! Can you imagine what your reaction would be if an angel suddenly showed up in your bedroom and was talking to you?! I think we have this broken idea that we have to feel brave and strong to be used by God. I’m not sure that any powerful, life-changing events have ever occurred without someone having to push through a little fear.
“Elisabeth Elliot, whose husband was killed along with four other missionaries in Ecuador, says that her life was completely controlled by fear…. Every time she started to step out to minister, fear stopped her. Then a friend told her something that set her free. Her friend said, ‘Why don’t you do it afraid?’ Elisabeth listened and took that advice. Together with Rachel Saint, the sister of one of the murdered missionaries, they went on to evangelize the Indian tribes of Ecuador, including the very people who had killed their loved ones.” – Joyce Meyer
2. Mary asked questions. Gabriel told Mary that God wanted her to carry His Son, as a virgin. In verse 34 Mary asks, “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.” That’s a pretty great question! She knew how things worked and needed more information. The angel graciously answered her question, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you.” He didn’t give her every single detail, but told her enough to give her peace. That has been my experience too. I don’t get to know every single step, but God gives me an idea of which direction to head. Can God handle our questions? Of course He can! He is our Father.
3. Mary said yes. I believe that God gave Mary a choice. He told her His plan but didn’t force her to go through with it. She could have decided to live life on her terms, and God would have chosen another girl. But in verse 38, Mary makes her decision: “Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.”
I used to imagine what it would be like to stand in Mary’s shoes…
My purity and reputation were VERY important to me. I identified with Mary and felt connected to her. This young virgin girl was preparing to marry a good man. Because of the society she lived in, she could have lost her fiancé, her financial stability, and could have even been stoned to death. All because God chose her. What she said yes to was no small thing. She was incredibly selfless.
4. Mary didn’t waste time. Luke1:39-40: “Mary didn’t waste a minute. She got up and traveled to a town in Judah in the hill country, straight to Zachariah’s house, and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb leaped. She was filled with the Holy Spirit, and sang out exuberantly.”
Delayed obedience is disobedience. I know that’s true with my kiddos. If I call for them, I want to hear a response from them right away. If I ask them to move their backpacks and shoes, I want them to do it right away, and with a smile on their face. Mary obeyed God right away.
Mary took the words Gabriel gave her, said yes, and acted quickly. She obeyed God and He met her with an immediate confirmation. I mean, it’s one thing for an angel to tell you that you’ve miraculously been impregnated by the Holy Spirit. But it’s so powerful to have other humans believe you. Mary didn’t say anything about the baby she was carrying- she didn’t have to. The Holy Spirit fell all over Elizabeth and John the Baptist (who was in her tummy!), and gave Elizabeth an incredibly powerful word of knowledge about the baby growing inside of her young cousin. How encouraging for Mary?! This is a moment that I want God to replay for me in Heaven.
5. Mary rejoiced. After hearing Elizabeth’s encouragement, Mary broke out in a gorgeous worship song in verses 46-55: “I’m bursting with God-news; I’m dancing the song of my Savior God. God took one good look at me, and look what happened—I’m the most fortunate woman on earth! What God has done for me will never be forgotten, the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others. His mercy flows in wave after wave on those who are in awe before him. He bared his arm and showed his strength, scattered the bluffing braggarts. He knocked tyrants off their high horses, pulled victims out of the mud. The starving poor sat down to a banquet; the callous rich were left out in the cold. He embraced his chosen child, Israel; he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high. It’s exactly what he promised, beginning with Abraham and right up to now.”
Mary could have felt like it was a burden to be chosen. She could have wallowed in self-pity and isolated herself. Or she could have gone to the opposite extreme and been prideful. After all, she was the one selected to carry Christ out of all of the women in all of history! Instead, she saw God’s favor on her life and gave Him the glory for it. She joyfully listed off God’s victories and promises. We can all learn a lot from her response and attitude.
6. Mary Lived Loved. We have gone through this story in order so far. But, for this last point, I want us to go back to the beginning of Luke 1. This is what it says in verse 28, “Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her: Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you.” Gabriel was letting Mary know that she was distinguished among women because of the love of God inside of her.
Living Loved isn’t about being a perfect person. It’s purely and simply, knowing your Source and staying connected to Him. Mary was full of God and God is love (1 John 4:8). At a very young age, she knew that God was good and trustworthy. She loved God and knew that He loved her. Mary was chosen to carry our Savior because she Lived Loved.
I do not worship or pray to Mary, but I do honor her as a Woman of God. Mary was chosen to carry, deliver, and raise Jesus. She was mama to a Member of the God-head and she (like us) was afraid and had questions. Because she Lived Loved, she chose to say “yes” to God anyway, didn’t waste time, and rejoiced at her assignment. She was a girl just like you and me who loved God and believed that He loved her.
“I love each of you with the same love that the Father loves me. You must continually let my love nourish your hearts,” (John 15:9 TPT).
“Look with wonder at the depth of the Father’s marvelous love that he has lavished on us! He has called us and made us his very own beloved children,” (1 John 3:1 TPT).
“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself,” (Jeremiah 31:3 NLT).
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing,” (Zephaniah 3:17 ESV).
There’s no better topic for us to discuss on the week of Valentine’s Day than Living Loved. What would our world look like if we all lived like we knew that we are loved? How many times do we allow ugly assumptions to divide us? Or insecurities to steal our peace? If I know that God is enamored with me, then that’s enough. Yes, I have growing to do and by no means have I arrived. But God loves me. I am complete and whole because of Jesus. That’s enough for me! I believe that I am loved and I am committed to living like it.
You’ll see a link to some homework below. Please feel free to print it off and share with your friends.