“And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.” Luke 1:56
We join Mary as she calls her Uber and heads home to Nazareth. Just kidding! Wouldn’t that have been convenient? Mary has just spent three months with her cousin, Elizabeth, and I’m sure it was comforting and soothing to Mary’s soul. I can imagine Elizabeth being more than a cousin, but a spiritual momma to young Mary, filling her heart with encouragement for the journey of life ahead, and perhaps giving her a few baby-rearing pointers to boot.
Mary heads home with a full heart and a three-month old baby Jesus growing in her belly. Unfortunately, we don’t hear from her again until she’s riding a donkey into the town of Bethlehem trying to find space to set up a labor and delivery room.
Let’s just pause the obstetrics for a moment, and back up to get a little time-line going. When Mary leaves Elizabeth’s home she is most likely around three months pregnant. When the story picks up again, she’s nine months pregnant. We can safely gather that Mary was back home for about six months before Jesus was born. And I can imagine that those weren’t an easy six months.
How would Joseph respond? How would her community respond? These were probably just a few of the many questions Mary was pondering as she walked home.
Thankfully, we know the end of the story! But, Mary didn’t – the story was playing out one day at a time. All she knew was that she was carrying the promise of the Messiah, told to her by the angel Gabriel, and affirmed by her cousin Mary.
Yet, Mary still had to wait for the promise to be fulfilled. Not only the promise of birthing the “promise” as prophesied by the prophet Isaiah, but also the promise spoken to her by the Lord.
I remember a season that I was waiting on a promise to be birthed.
It was Father’s Day weekend several years ago. I remember finishing the book, Anything, by Jennie Allen as my husband drove us to visit family for the weekend.
I cannot remember every word of my prayer that day in the car, but it would be the first time I would pray, “God, I want anything you have for me, for us.” In a way I surrendered my desires much like Mary did. Nothing felt different at that moment, and God didn’t lay out my life’s plan all at once after I prayed, but that prayer would slowly change everything.
Prayer initiates change in our lives even though we do not necessarily see immediate evidence of the process beginning. Yet, it does begin the birthing process. Although it is not yet tangible nor does it always make sense, the prayer ignites the process that we then we walk out.
The process is how we posture our lives, our attitudes, and our hearts to receive the promises of God. Much like an expectant mother prepares for the birth of her child. We too can begin to prepare for the birth of the promise.
What I have discovered is that although the time between the prayer and the praise is sometimes long and difficult, like pregnancy often is, the power of God is at work in the process. Not a day is wasted, not a day in vain, and God is never a day late.
I find that there is power in declaring God’s mighty acts right smack dab in the middle of the process, walking one day at a time, waiting on the promise. Let’s reflect for a moment on the courtyard scene at Elizabeth’s home when Mary is belting out her song of praise.
Listen to Mary’s holy outpouring which strengthens the confidence of her heart to believe that her God will fulfill what He has promised:
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” (Luke 1:46-55)
Mary’s song encourages us to tell a friend, momma, sister, or neighbor what God has done in our lives. This proclamation magnifies His mighty works and activates what I like to call “the power of praise”
It is the infectious light we shine on a dark and hurting world when we share our stories and declare His faithfulness. We testify that we have just come through the storm, the struggle, the season of waiting, and we are still standing firm on the Word of God.
This, my friends, is the power of praise! And it’s MIGHTY powerful!
The birthing process of the promises within us is a difficult journey to navigate. We wonder if we will be pregnant FOREVER. We get restless; we feel tired of waiting, and we moan, “I just can’t do it anymore.”
Yet, usually this is when we are about to see the fulfillment of the promise; the time of waiting is near completion. The womb stretched to capacity is just about to birth new life but the enemy doesn’t want the promise to be birthed, so he will taunt us with lies, doubts, exhaustion, and hopelessness . . . not to mention swollen ankles, an aching back, and Braxton Hicks contractions that simulate labor for weeks on end!
The liar knows that if he can get us to doubt in the promises of God, we may choose to give up before new life emerges. This is when we need to dig in and tenaciously hold firm to the Word of God, to set our face with steadfast determination to see the process through to fulfillment
So, ladies let us be reminded that….
Our prayers are more than mere words. They align and activate our hearts to come into line with God’s promises when they have been whispered out, cried out, or shouted out. Father hears our prayers and begins the process of birthing the promise.
Our process isn’t merely waiting, but instead we see a mighty God at work orchestrating all the pieces to fit together in just the right timing.
Our praise is more than gratitude to a faithful God. It serves as our greatest testimony, our greatest story.
Each of us bears the identity of a God who created new life out of nothing. He spoke creation into being, formed us with His hands, breathed life into our nostrils, and praised the result. We are fashioned in the image of our Creator, designed to create new life as well.
Our words, therefore, must have tremendous power to speak promises into being. They do! And the most important words we speak are prayers and praises offered up to our God.
Our prayers empower His promises to blossom within our hearts. It is a beautiful, sometimes halting, process to move from prayer to praise, yet it is a process that a powerful and faithful God nurtures within each of us. Mary would go on to birth the promise — the Word spoken to her that became flesh — a promise not only for us, but for herself as well.
Her journey was not easy, and neither is ours, yet she believed in the promise, praised a mighty God, and saw the fulfillment of His Word come forth from her very being. May we too offer ourselves as God’s servants, ready for His promise to grow within us, persevering to the end, only to discover a new beginning.