Embraced and Free

Hello again, fellow pilgrim.  Ready for our next Pilgrim Song?

For those of you who are part of our church family or our Abba’s House adventure, this Advent reflection may have added meaning.  My heart is leaping with thanksgiving as I read our two scripture passages for today…our next Psalm of Ascent and our continuation of the Christmas story in Luke.  Whether you have been part of our journey or not, I am pretty certain you will find your personal story connected with these Biblical narratives.  Because ultimately God’s story is all of our stories.

If God hadn’t been for us
—all together now, Israel, sing out!—
If God hadn’t been for us
when everyone went against us,
We would have been swallowed alive
by their violent anger,
Swept away by the flood of rage,
drowned in the torrent;
We would have lost our lives
in the wild, raging water.

Oh, blessed be God!
He didn’t go off and leave us.
He didn’t abandon us defenseless,
helpless as a rabbit in a pack of snarling dogs.

We’ve flown free from their fangs,
free of their traps, free as a bird.
Their grip is broken;
we’re free as a bird in flight.

God’s strong name is our help,
the same God who made heaven and earth.

-Psalm 124 MSG

For the past three Sundays–all of Advent–I have been at a sister church in our city who was compelled to choose Abba’s House as their Advent Giving Project.  On the journey of developing this ministry to refugee women and their children and building the home in Cypress, TX, we have hit challenge after challenge, particularly with construction.  We have continually looked to God, knowing what He has asked us to do, and wondering how He would provide the means to join Him in what He is doing.  Our King of kings and Lord of lords, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, has overwhelmed us at every turn with His abundant provision.  We truly have a good, good Abba Father.

I can only imagine what Mary must have felt like, the thoughts that must have run through her mind and heart, as Gabriel declared God’s message of the Messiah to come through her very own womb.  In God’s perfect faithfulness to His beloved ones, He shared with Mary the good news of her cousin Elizabeth’s pregnancy.  Provision!  God gift-wrapped for Mary a godly mentor and spiritual companion for her journey into motherhood and into God’s plan of salvation.  No one could have fulfilled that role the way Elizabeth did for precious Mary.

O how He loves His people!

Mary felt it in every fiber of her being when she encountered Elizabeth, and so did Elizabeth.  As a result, each in turn burst forth with their own song of worship and adoration.

pregnant Mary praying

Mary didn’t waste a minute. She got up and traveled to a town in Judah in the hill country, straight to Zachariah’s house, and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb leaped. She was filled with the Holy Spirit, and sang out exuberantly,

You’re so blessed among women,
and the babe in your womb, also blessed!
And why am I so blessed that
the mother of my Lord visits me?
The moment the sound of your
greeting entered my ears,
The babe in my womb
skipped like a lamb for sheer joy.
Blessed woman, who believed what God said,
believed every word would come true!

And Mary said,

I’m bursting with God-news;
I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised,
beginning with Abraham and right up to now.

Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months and then went back to her own home.  (Luke 1:39-56 MSG; emphasis mine)

He embraced… He remembered… He promised.

When I got into my car after the final service this past Sunday and recounted to myself what God had done to provide for His people who will come to stay at Abba’s House by giving far more abundantly that what we had even hoped, the only song I could imagine listening to and singing at the top of my lungs at that moment was “My Soul Magnifies the Lord” by Chris Tomlin…Mary’s Magnificat.

What is the God-sized task in your life right now?

As you spend time listening to God in prayer (listening rather than talking), what do you hear Him saying to you about this task that is bigger than your human capabilities or your physical means?

Sit long enough and quietly enough to hear the One who knows you, calls you, and lives within you.

You may need to do so at a time and in a place where you have sacred space to just be and to listen.

When I go before God to do so regarding what He has invited me to, I keep hearing over and over, “Just trust Me, Julie.  Just trust Me.  Trust Me.  You know you can trust Me.”

I wonder what trust looks like for you?  I wonder what trust looked like for Mary as she found her waistline growing month after month, after John was born and she left her spiritual companion to go prepare for her own childbirth, to become a new family with Joseph.

What is God growing within you, Beloved one?  Where is He inviting you to trust Him?

His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him…

He embraced his chosen child, [your name]
he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised….  (Luke 1:50, 54-55a MSG)


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