If you haven't heard the song "Born in Me" as sung by Francesca Battistelli, I highly recommend it. This time of year always takes me back to what it may have felt like to have been Mary carrying baby Jesus. Eight years ago, I was expecting a special baby too, and he was to be born three days after Christmas. Every year at this time I am a little more emotional than usual, a little more cognizant of the birth of Jesus. I can imagine what it may have felt like to have been Mary when the angel came to tell her that even though she was a virgin, she was with child and it was the Messiah - the one they had been waiting for- -- to save them.
We also received startling news that held much fear and trepidation.
I would like to put a disclaimer in here, and clearly state that I am respectfully making this analogy. In no way do I equate Toby to Jesus.
However, I imagine that Mary must
have been feeling some of the very same things that I felt while expecting Toby: fear, anxiety, joy, wonder, questions of why God had chosen her to be the mother. Many times through the story of Jesus' birth you read about angels reassuring Mary, Joseph, Zachariah, and the shepherds to not be afraid - so I know that those involved had fear over the birth of Jesus. It was a few years ago, actually, around this time of year that I felt like God helped me to connect to what Mary may have experienced. Expecting Jesus may have been similar to expecting a child with special needs. There were many things for Mary to fear - stoning because she was found with child before she was married, the census and taxes that took them on a far away journey to Bethlehem right around her time to deliver. She was facing so many unknowns. And then there was Jesus, who was/is perfect and sinless. Mary and Joseph were imperfect and sinful, so imagine trying to raise a child, a perfect child, when in reality every time they may have gone to teach or discipline Jesus - the sin wasn't in Him, but them. You see this in the story of their trip to Jerusalem. On the way home Jesus is no where to be found. They go back to the temple and he's teaching the scribes. It's hard to tell from the scriptures exactly, but I can imagine they were frustrated to find that He wasn't with them, and what does He tell them. "I have to be about My Father's business." Oops - not His mistake, it was theirs.
Mary also knew the reason for His birth, that He was born to die for her own sins. I wonder if every day leading
up to His birth she had to daily trust God for what He was giving
her. I wonder if every day after his birth she had to trust God because each day took her one step closer to His death. The same God that chose Mary and Joseph to be Jesus' earthly parents, chose Bruce and I to be Toby's parents...that's an awe-inspiring thought, isn't it? Just think about that. If you are a parent, God chose your children just for you, just as God chose His plan of redemption from the beginning of time.
At one point in Francesca's song there's a phrase that says, "I am not brave, I'll never be, the only thing my heart can offer is a vacancy." This is also true of each and everyone of us. Pastor Dean (our pastor) often says we are "Undeniably flawed, but unbelievably loved" and it's because of our fallen sinful state that we need Him and our heart/lives to vacant so He can fill us, love us, and redeem us. The only thing I can offer Him is the surrender of my heart and life for Him to use me in any way He sees fit. The same God who entrusted Mary and Joseph to be the Son of God's parents, has also entrusted us with His purposes when we know Him and call Him our Savior.
So, this time of year always holds extra special meaning for me, and I pray because of this post you might find a place for Him in your life too.