God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” Luke 1:26-32
These days, most of us are busy preparing to celebrate Christmas.
But are we prepared to relate to it?
Years ago, our pastor invited us to deepen our personal connection to the Christmas story by viewing it through the eyes of a specific character. For instance, some might identify with the innkeeper. We don’t mean to miss the miracle, but we’re too blinded by everyday busyness to see the extraordinary taking place right outside our door.
I knew instantly which character I would pick. Almost nine months pregnant with our fourth child, I sympathized with Mary. I couldn’t imagine having to travel anywhere in that condition—I could barely make it across the room, let alone across the country!
However, the connection ran deeper than coincidental due dates. Like Mary, my world had been rocked by shocking news and life-altering plans.
You see, we were actually expecting two children that year: the child I was about to deliver, and a child I would soon collect. Once my son was born, I was leaving for China to claim my daughter.
Our decision to adopt internationally had come as a surprise to everyone—me most of all. It had been a kind of “Divine conception” that left me just as astonished as Mary. I had a few “how can this be?” questions of my own. On one occasion, “greatly troubled” after a day marked by epic mommy-failures, I cried out to God: “I can barely parent the two kids I already have—how can you ask me to take on another one?”
Like Mary, I received a paradigm-shifting answer:
“I’m not asking you to do it. I’m asking you to let me do it through you.”
Such a powerful revelation enabled me to model Mary’s trust and obedience: “May it be to me as you have said.”
God’s assurances continued to sustain me all the way through the bureaucratic tedium of international adoption. (Yes, Mary, I do know what it’s like to contend with faceless and arbitrary government officials!)
Just as the end of our journey was almost in sight, we received even more astounding news. We were expecting another child, due to arrive at the very same time as our daughter.
“How can this be?” Not only, “How could this happen despite reliable birth control?” But more importantly, “How can we possibly manage such a thing? Two babies? At the same time? A world apart? How?”
Time and again I returned to those words that first emboldened Mary so many years ago, and still hold true for us today:
Nothing is impossible with God. Luke 1:37
Impossible for us—sure. But miraculously possible for God to accomplish through us . . . so long as we say “yes.”
This miracle is not limited to Mary, motherhood or even Christmastime. It can happen whenever God breaks into ordinary life with startling news or unforeseen plans—and we respond with trust and acceptance. It is the wonder we experience as we permit the Holy Spirit to overtake us completely. And it is the privileged joy of partnering with God in order to create something remarkable.
The miracle is ours when we relate to God as Mary did:
“I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Luke 1:38