We’re coming up on the end of the third week of Advent. This week our devotional book has been focusing on Mary. Of all the things the chapters have talked about, last night’s devotion struck me the most. It was about how Mary spent her whole life waiting.
Mary, like all other devout Jewish folks, was waiting and waiting for the Messiah to deliver her people from the Romans. Then out of the blue a messenger appears to her and turns her world upside down. How she must have waited in apprehension to see what would happen after she told Joseph the news. Then off she goes to see her cousin Elizabeth who is also expecting and Mary spends the better part of six months waiting with her for the birth of Elizabeth’s son John (the Baptist). The long trip back home afterwards finds Mary waiting now for the birth of her own son.
I can’t imagine how she must have felt, nine months pregnant, to find out she had to ride a donkey the 90 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. What could she do but wait while riding along that steep and dangerous road. Then she waited through the labor, and waited through the visits of the shepherds and Magi — wondering at the strange gifts they had chosen to give to the baby.
And then she waited 40 days after the birth until she and Joseph could take the baby to the temple to be circumcised where the old man Simeon (whose name meant “God-receiver”) told her:
And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34 ESV)
It makes me wonder if after that Mary waited and waited for the other shoe to drop? Did she WONDER ALL THAT TIME about who her son was destined to be? Yet all those waitings were of the passive verb. There was nothing else she could do. But Mary was strong and not one to sit around full of anxiety. While she was waiting for the fulfillment of Simeon’s prophecy, she was also waiting on those around her. Caring for the baby, Joseph, possibly her other children; and as kind as she seemed, her life was likely full of others on whom she waited, for you see waiting is also an active verb.
As I read the devotion last night I was struck by how I TOTALLY suck at waiting — the passive kind of waiting. I do a lot of waiting on other people, but to put my own expectations on the back burner and get on with my life doesn’t sit well with me. I’m hung up on the active verb. So I guess I still have a lot to learn about waiting from Mary this Advent season.