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“Behold the Handmaid of the Lord”

I like to consider myself as being a thoughtful person. I try to listen to both sides of an argument when my children are fighting. (Usually, I end up screaming more than thinking…but I’m working on it!) I honestly try to think of how my husband may be viewing a problem before I approach him with my point of view—which is always right…so why bother. 😉 It is important to be thoughtful.

But how about being thoughtfully obedient? Does this even exist? Some people think that obedience is based on blind faith; but I don’t believe that’s so. I feel like obedience needs to be thoughtfully executed, so it must be based on “informed faith.” Mary, the mother of Christ, is a perfect example of one who was thoughtfully obedient.

We find a few hints about Mary’s personality in Luke 2:19. After hearing what the shepherds had been taught about Christ, many people marveled at their sayings, but “Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” Again in Luke 2:51, after being told by Christ, her 12 year old son, that He would be about His Father’s business, she “kept all these sayings in her heart.”

Mary’s a thinker!

I’ve always loved reading how Mary was thoughtful because, even though I try, I know that I’m not a woman who keeps things in my heart. I tend to blab. I’m Italian. I yell a little bit, then talk loudly, and finish it off with “heated discussion.” Mary, however, is introspective. I’m not suggesting we become silent (although it may help me with my “foot-in-mouth-disease”), but I think we can learn from her example. She took the time to think.

And not only did she think, but she obeyed. This pattern leads me to believe that she was acting on “informed faith” when she chose to be obedient.

In Luke 1 Mary receives the revelation that she will be the mother of the Savior. When Gabriel announces her divine role, she wonders how it is even possible. (There she goes, thinking again…)

We need to recognize that when Mary asked, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” she didn’t ask out of doubt or pride. Mary was introspective, and the idea of her having a child while being a virgin simply wasn’t computing. It had never, in the history of the world, happened before. She had to think about her choice before committing to anything.

The Lord didn’t expect her to obey blindly. After Mary asked for more information, Gabriel explained the way that she would conceive. I can only imagine that this explanation was also a little…hard to follow. Gabriel doesn’t leave the discussion at that explanation. He also lets Mary know that Elisabeth is miraculously pregnant, and he reminds Mary that, “with God, nothing shall be impossible.” Mary receives His testimony with faith, and then makes the informed decision to obey by saying, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” Mary, mindful of the responsibility she was about to bear, chose to be the Mother of the Savior.

I’m not expecting to be the mother of the Savior any time soon. But I think that we all can learn from Mary’s example. We can choose to be informed, faithful, and obedient. There are times we’ll be asked to obey — even when it is difficult, hard to understand, or seemingly impossible. What will your response to such a situation be? What has it been in the past? I hope to become more like Mary, able to respond, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord…”

Have you ever had an experience where you knew you needed to faithfully obey? Have you ever handed yourself over to the Lord in a way similar to Mary? What do you do to increase your “informed faith” so that you are better able to be thoughtfully obedient?

{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Vennesa March 2, 2011, 8:47 pm

    I like the insight you’ve shared on Mary. I haven’t had any similar experience, but you’ve given me something to think about. There are so few women mentioned in the scriptures that I appreciate any little thing we can learn about them.
    Vennesa recently posted…Vote for Pedro – or VennesaMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith March 2, 2011, 11:39 pm

    I honestly try to think of how my husband may be viewing a problem before I approach him with my point of view

    I think my husband would think he’d died and gone to heaven. I just might try that, Catania!

    What a lovely first post!
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Bargain Shopping in the RecessionMy Profile

  • Catania Larson March 3, 2011, 8:32 am

    Thanks Venessa,
    I’m planning on writing several posts on women in the New Testament. 🙂

  • Catania Larson March 3, 2011, 8:33 am

    I think that the key word in the sentence is that I try… 😉

  • Michelle D March 3, 2011, 11:14 am

    What a thoughtful post. 🙂

    I think the last big time I had to turn my will over to the Lord’s was when we moved nearly 20 months ago. I knew that we needed to go and that the Lord had provided a way, but I was figuratively kicking and screaming as I went… However, as difficult as the transition was, I have discovered some amazing blessings here and I have learned to be more grateful for the journey.

    I think obedience is easier when we learn to “be still” and think through what it is the Lord is asking of us and what we might learn from our experiences and make an informed decision to act.

    I, too, can learn from Mary’s example of thoughtful, faithful obedience – and can see that I have indeed been blessed on those occasions when I have succeeded in this endeavor.

  • Kimberly March 3, 2011, 1:34 pm

    I think the last time I had to turn my will over to the Lord’s was when we finally decided to pay our tithing FIRST instead of playing catch up. When we had to choose between paying bills or tithing we paid tithing (previously we’d pay the bills and hope to catch up on tithing later). It was terrifying. We had several over drafts and things did NOT go well financially during the first few weeks/months. My husband went from full time work to 32 hours a week in that time period because work slowed down. There were huge unexpected bills.

    But it was worth it. Our financial situation is now incredibly better-miraculously better. Not only is my husband back to 40 hours a week he also got a raise-but it’s more than that-there just seems to be more money in our accounts, and there’s a sense of peace about our financial situation and future that is just so wonderful. It was HARD though, very hard.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 3, 2011, 6:02 pm

    Kimberly, thank you for that personal story.

  • Catania Larson March 3, 2011, 11:22 pm

    Thanks Michelle.

    Isn’t it funny how sometimes we “kick and scream” at the Lord’s will? I do it all the time, and then foolishly remember (sometime later) that His will is, ultimately, my happiness…silly silly silly.

    Also – I like how you mentioned “be still” that is exactly what Mary did, and it’s what we need to do, too.

  • Catania Larson March 3, 2011, 11:24 pm

    Kimberly, I love your example because it is a classic example of how the Lord works in our lives. Often, we have to do something (like pay tithing when we are financially strapped) that seems counterintuitive to the blessing that we need. However, once we obey – despite seeming lack of logic – we then experience the miracles of the Lord. It is pretty awesome. It is difficult, but awesome.

    Thanks for sharing your example.

  • jennycherie March 4, 2011, 12:29 am

    great food for thought! Thanks for sharing – I really look forward to reading about women in the New Testament! or any testament for that matter! 😉
    jennycherie recently posted…Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words to Each OtherMy Profile

  • jennycherie March 4, 2011, 12:30 am

    okay – now that I’ve seen that I *can* make emoticons, please excuse me while I practice:

    🙂 😉 🙁 ;( 😀

    Just want to see what happens – you may now return to your regularly scheduled programming.
    jennycherie recently posted…Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words to Each OtherMy Profile

  • Hillary Sperry March 4, 2011, 8:39 am

    I love your thought process Catania! Thanks for the awesome post and I’m excited to read your point of view on other New Testament Women!

  • Darcee Yates March 4, 2011, 12:39 pm

    Pauses make all the difference. My daughter-in-law recently posted on facebook about my yet-to-be-born granddaughter dancing in her belly. I wrote back. “Baby dancing in belly. I think I’m jealous!” But facebook shoved the words together. “Baby dancing in belly. I think I’m jealous!” Without the pause, it just doesn’t come across the same.

    Point being is that in the scriptures, the words are all shoved together. Even when minutes, hours, days, etc. may have taken place from one sentence to the next.

    This is the first time I considered that Mary actually had a choice, And that there was a pause as she pondered what becoming the Mother of our Savior would entail. And then, she humbly accepted.

    Thanks for a beautiful post Cantania. And thanks for making me take a pause today to consider my own willingness to obey.

    BTW, I’ve been studying Italian for an upcoming trip to Italy. It will be my first time there and — Io volgio bene la lingua di sua madre.

  • Darcee Yates March 4, 2011, 12:41 pm

    Now I’m laughing. Wish I knew how to make a giggling picture face here. You’ll notice that this write program ALSO shoved my words together!

  • Catania Larson March 4, 2011, 1:45 pm

    I’m jealous about your trip to Italy. I’d like to go, too. 😉

    You’re right, though, it makes a difference for us to pause when reading the scriptures. I feel like pausing is hard to do sometimes, especially in our technological run, run, run world.

    So, thanks for the comment, Darcee!

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