Dare to Trust - Mary's Story
Join Nicole and Sharon as they explore living faithfully in a fear-filled world. It's hard to imagine the emotions swirling through Mary, probably still in her teens, when an angel appeared and told her she was to be the mother of the longed-for Messiah. She had to trust God in some really hard situations. There were plenty of reasons to be fear-filled. Yet we see in Mary perfect trust in the midst of difficulties and changes. Let's learn from the mother of Jesus, today, as we finalize our preparations for Christmas Day. Thanks for listening to Season Four. See you next February 15, 2022. Please DO go back through our archives and enjoy older episodes while you wait.
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Speaker 1 (00:00):[music]
Speaker 2 (00:04):
Christmas, a beautiful time of year to remember the gift of Jesus. Come sit for a moment friend, as we share from God’s word, how to live faithfully in a fear-filled world, just like Mary and Joseph and others did in their own frightening times. This Sweet Selah Moments Podcast is brought to you by Sweet Selah Ministries and Word Radio.
Welcome to the Sweet Selah Moments Podcast. This is episode 64, Faith-filled Living in a Fear-filled World Series, Mary’s Story: Dare to Trust. Sharon, do you find it hard to trust God?
Yes and no. How’s that straight answer? It’s easy for me to trust God for the big picture. I really do believe he wins. I believe I’ll spend eternity with him and that every wrong will be made right and every crooked thing straightened. I believe my tears will be dried by the Lord Jesus and I will someday get to see the place he is preparing just for me. And that fills me with such joy, but what’s hard to trust is the journey that gets me there sometimes Nicole. I know that the journey ahead might be hard. God never promised us easy in this life. So I have to trust that even in the hard spots, when I feel I can’t go on and just taking the next step is an effort that God will help me through those times. You know, that’s the hard trusting because quite frankly, suffering is not my favorite. (Nicole: Nope.) I hate pain. So that’s where it gets hard for me to trust, even when it hurts. How about you? How are you at trusting?
Yeah, I’d say about the same thing, Sharon. I absolutely believe that he is sovereign over everything and that everything will be made right in the end, but in the day-to-day messes and the trials that can be so heartbreaking and painful sometimes it’s really hard to trust that something really awful could be used for good someday.
Yeah, yeah, it is. Well, today we will look at a beautiful young woman’s trust in God and be in awe. Mary was most likely a teenager when she was first approached by Gabriel, the angel who stands in the presence of the living God. She thought she knew how life would go in a general sense. I mean, she’d get married and have babies and hope her husband could pay the Roman taxes and that she’d lived long enough to see her grandchildren, right?
Yeah. Good life.
Yeah, exactly. And all that forever shifted the day the angel came to see her. Man, talk about a life altering event. An angel sent from the presence of God with stunning news of seismic changes on the horizon, kind of altered her life forever. So let’s read back and forth. The account Luke writes down for us, most likely as Luke was meticulous and looked for eyewitness accounts, most likely this account was actually initially told to him by Mary, (Nicole: That’s super cool, wow!) which is so fun to think about. So, why don’t you start with verse 26 of chapter one.
All right. “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth a village in Galilee.”
“To a Virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David.”
“Gabriel appeared to her and said, ‘Greetings favored woman. The Lord is with you’.”
“Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.”
“Don’t be afraid Mary, the angel told her, for you have found favor with God.”
“You will conceive and give birth to a son and you will name him Jesus.”
“He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor, David.”
“And he will reign over Israel forever. His kingdom will never end.”
“Mary asked the angel, but how can this happen? I am a Virgin.”
“The angel replied, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy. And he will be called the Son of God’.”
“What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age. People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month.”
“For the word of God will never fail.”
“Mary responded, ‘I am the Lord’s servant, may everything you have said about me come true’. And then the angel left her.” Wow.
So Nicole, our overall theme this month is Faith-filled Living in a Fear-filled World. What, in this announcement from Gabriel could have terrified Mary?
I mean, like all of it, right? (both laugh, Sharon: Oh, my word.) Poor Mary. You know, she’s just kind of minding her own business, preparing to get married and there’s an angel. She just wants to be married, but not quite married yet. So to be suddenly found pregnant without a husband was bad news back then. And oh, what would Joseph think?
And then to hear she’s carrying the Messiah, the Son of God, that’s enough to bring anyone to their knees. She could have been terrified thinking about the responsibility of raising God in flesh or terrified for her own life and future when people found out she was pregnant.
Absolutely. I can’t even imagine the, the shifting that had to occur in her mind. Say what? (Nicole: Right.) You know, just bewilderment, uncertainty. You know, I can remember when Ray and I first found out that his assignment to Germany was going to yield the first deployment from Germany to another country ever. We thought, no, if we’re in Germany, we’ve already deployed. No, Ray deployed again, bound for the Persian Gulf War. And I was pretty much terrified at first, you know, cause I’m in a foreign country with two little girls, two dogs and I don’t speak the language. I didn’t have my driver’s license yet and my husband’s going to war. (Nicole: Wow.) Wow. No network, you know, a church I’m just getting to know people at, I’d only been there a month and terrorist threats. So we had soldiers that would walk on the roofs above our apartments and whenever I would let the dogs out to go to the bathroom at night. (Nicole: Yeah.) Nicole from nowhere two soldiers would stand on either side of me with rifles.
Oh my goodness.
I know. It was really, like really weird. (Nicole: Yeah, out of the darkness.) I’m like, okay, so it’s good they’re there. And oh dear, why are they? (Nicole: Why are they there?)They think they need to be here because I’m in a vulnerable position. That’s really scary.
That is terrifying.
So it was pretty terrifying that first fall. And then when Ray left, he left December 15th, right before Christmas.
Oh, that’s so hard.
Oh my goodness. And I never knew, I didn’t know if I’d see him again, ever. Right. So, so, so hard. Very hard time for me. So sometimes you get hit upside the head with something you don’t expect.
How about you? What was the time in your life when you were flat out terrified?
Well, I really connect with Mary in this story because one of my most terrifying times in my life was when I found out I was pregnant with my first child. I feel sad saying this, but this is the truth that Josh and I hadn’t planned on having kiddos for at least another three years or so. So, and honestly, I wasn’t even sure if I could have kiddos at that point, Sharon, because of a few health issues and I was undergoing a bunch of tests for my heart at that time. Then to find out we were, had a surprise pregnancy. It was just all very scary. I didn’t feel prepared at all. I wasn’t in the mindset of preparing to be a mother. You know, you kind of research and prepare and dream and hold little baby clothes. And I was not there. I was not in that stage of life. So, you know, and then I was just worried about carrying the baby full term because of my health issues. So it was just a lot to take on at once.
Yeah. To even have to worry about being able to carry a baby and if your body could handle it. That adds another layer.
Right. Yeah. I wasn’t taking vitamins yet. I wasn’t eating well. I was just a mess.
Wow, wow, wow. So hard things happen. And you know, if we asked our listeners, every single one of them could tell us, I suspect of a time in their life where they got sort of blindsided by something they didn’t expect. (Nicole: Yep.)
Well, Mary’s response is one we can learn from. She asks questions and that seems to be okay because she’s asking, so she knows better what’s she supposed to do? Right? I mean, the angel tells her she’s going to carry a baby without a man involved. So she kind of needs to understand how this will happen and what’s her role in it. So, I love the angel’s answer. It’s basically that God will do the work. Nicole. I think that’s the first thing we learn from this passage. Faithful living means trusting that God will care for us and do the work in and through us. We get in trouble when we think we have to step in and be in charge, right? (Nicole: Yeah.)
Mary wasn’t trying to be in charge. She’s just like, teach me what I should do. (Nicole: Yes.) She let God be in charge. And when we yield to him like that life goes better. When I speak, you know, when I go to a retreat or conference or whatever, the most important thing I actually do is yield. It’s not prepare, it’s not practice my notes. It’s not checking out my wardrobe which sometimes takes more time than it ought to. Ahem. It’s yielding. It’s absolutely the yielding. I need to simply pray and remind myself as I ask God for help, that if he does not show up, my words will mean nothing. That’s what I say to him every single time. Lord, if you do not show up, it’s just words. Nothing gets accomplished at all. It’s your Holy Spirit that speaks through me that makes the difference. And that’s, that’s the key right there. (Nicole: Absolutely.) So anyways, I have to totally rely on him to speak through me. Nicole, as a mother how does that play out in your own mothering?
I can’t think of a better place in my life to practice yielding to God than in mothering. And you’re absolutely right, when I plan or prepare, you know, speeches or lectures to give to the girls when they sin or just me reacting out of my own flesh and saying whatever comes into my mind, it’s never good. It’s just, it’s not, it’s either an angry response, you know, back from my kids, they’ll just be angry back or a glazed-over bored look. (Sharon: Yep.) But in those moments, when I stop and close my eyes real quick, send up a prayer for help. And then just listen to what the Holy Spirit prompts me to say, the words that come out are definitely not my own. And I see the effect they have on my kids. It’s like night and day compared with my frustrated words or my prepared words or whatever. And the words and verses that come from God help to change their hearts. And it’s not just me making them do what I want them to do, you know?
Yeah. There’s a difference. Yeah. You can force obedience, but you really want their heart.
Right, and it makes all the difference when I yield and God does the work.
It does, yeah, yeah. So we need God. (Nicole: Absolutely.) In conclusion, we need God. Well, he makes all the difference when we stop and ask. Well, after Mary gets her questions answered, and you know, it was like, how do I yield to you in this, right?
About how exactly do I get the Son of God inside my womb? (Nicole: Right.) And realizes it’s all about God. Her second, beautiful act of trust teaches us our second lesson about faithful living. And that is that faithful living means yielding to God’s will and receiving what happens to us from his hands. We’ve got to receive it. She could have rejected it, I suppose. I don’t know, like, wait, no, I don’t want that. (Nicole: Yeah.) But Mary’s simple response to this huge upheaval in her life that potentially could cost her, her life, her marriage, her future, was this: I am the Lord’s servant. Right there, let’s just stop there for a minute. I’m your servant. I mean, I’m not my own. She’s already a yielded servant. She knows that about herself. I’m the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true. Mary received what God said. She didn’t protest that she had other things planned. Like, I was making a wedding dress, you know? (Nicole: Oh yeah.) I already have this wedding planned. I was really hoping to start life with Joseph without having a baby right at the beginning. At this point, she doesn’t even know that she’ll be delivering that baby in a strange town and shortly after be running for her life to a foreign country as an immigrant.
So more’s even coming, but she had a calm about her. Nicole, how did she manage this kind of, of kind of like, okay, I’m your servant, whatever you say?
Only with God. You know, Gabriel said she found favor with God and that God was with her. So I think trusting and obeying God was not new to her. It was something she probably practiced most of her life. So obeying and trusting now when things got hard and crazy and, you know unplanned, was much easier for her because it’s what she’d always done.
You know what, that’s right. It’s what you said in the last episode about just do the small things. (Nicole: Yes.) And the small yieldings, the small saying, I’m your servant, I’m your servant, that’s something we should probably say every day too.
Yeah. It’s good way to start the day, isn’t it?
I’m your servant. Right. I’m not my own.
So that’s so cool.
So we’re going to read the third act of trust in the next verses Luke 1:39-45: “A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judah to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting Elizabeth’s child leaped within her and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, God has blessed you above all women and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting my baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believe that the Lord would do what he said.”
Oh, I love how even Elizabeth is rejoicing at Mary’s trust and belief. She believed that the Lord would do what he said. So, so sweet. Mary literally rushed to see Elizabeth so she could rejoice in her cousin’s incredible miracle baby too. She trusted that what the angel said was true. What? Elizabeth’s pregnant, I’m on my way! Those two women just have to have had so much to share with each other (Nicole: Oh, yeah.) because both of their pregnancies were totally weird.
Yeah. Oh yeah, totally unexpected and very special babies, both. Really neat. It’s, it’s really special when God brings someone into your life that’s going through similar things at the same time. I actually met a dear friend of mine in my last trimester of pregnancy, which was the one we were unexpected and terrified about. And she was due the same time as me. And she was such a blessing to me, Sharon. I was working full time then and she had just moved here. She was in the military and she was working part-time from home and she was able to help me plan all these fun things to do with our baby girls. She helped me make homemade baby food and she’d split it up and give me some, cause she knew I was working and didn’t have time to do it.
That’s so sweet.
So my child ate really well because of her. And then she signed us up for this baby group. And we’d go on my one day off and go to this new mom’s group and a playgroup. And I never would have done all these things on my own. And she got me out of the house and connected with other women. And she just was such a blessing, you know? It’s really special the bond that can form with other moms in the same season of life. We really need each other. Even if we have babies during completely normal and perfectly happy circumstances, motherhood is still scary and exhausting (Sharon: It is) and we really need the support and wisdom of other moms.
I agree. I so agree. And I’m glad you had her.
Oh, I loved her.
That’s so sweet.
She moved far away and I miss her so much.
I’ll bet you do. Yeah, you’ll never forget her.
She was wonderful. No, I won’t.
Well after Mary and Elizabeth greeted each other, Mary bursts into a song of praise that we now call The Magnificat, it’s glorious. She out loud, worships God acting on her faith. And that’s our third faithful lesson. Faithful living means acting on our belief in our daily lives. For Mary, that meant hurrying to Elizabeth. She acted on her belief that the angel was right, Elizabeth was pregnant, and rejoicing with her. It meant that right in the middle of an incredibly scary time for her and a most uncertain future, Mary praised God anyway, right in the midst. You know, for us acting out our faith in daily lives might mean going to church each Sunday, even when other events call our names. Or, stopping to pray when everyone is arguing in the car, and asking God for his help, to soothe sore and angry spirits. Or, maybe holding our tongues so that our answers are gentle and not harsh, we need to act out our faith. We need to live out our trust that God’s Word is true and do what he says even when it’s tough. Like Mary, we need to sing songs of praise in trust, even when it’s scary, like it was for her. Mary acted on what she believed and that’s why she thrived in a fear-filled world. I love that.
I do too.
It’s so neat. Nicole, there’s so many lessons we can learn from Mary, but let’s look at the last Christmas lesson found in Luke 2:18-19. Why don’t you share that one with us?
Sure. “All who heard the Shepherd’s story were astonished, but Mary kept all of these things in her heart and thought about them often.” I love how Mary thought about all these things that had happened often. I think in order not to be frightened with all the scary happenings, we need to think about the good things that God is and does. So our last lesson would be faithful living means keeping our minds and thoughts focused on things that are true and right and godly. It reminds me Sharon, of Philippians 4:8 – “And now dear brothers and sisters, one final thing, fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right, and pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
So beautiful. And she did that often. I love that word ‘often’ and that’s where our mind, we have to keep our minds stayed on him. That’s old old-fashioned language from King James Version again. But if they stay on him, we are okay in fear-filled times because our minds aren’t on the fearful stuff.
Yeah. Our minds like we talked about in our first episode are prone to go to worry and anxiety and we need God’s help to corral the thoughts and not allow worry to drain us of all our joy. We have got to turn every anxious thought into a prayer so God will help us focus on all we do have in him, no matter what the current world looks like. So here’s some of the thoughts I think. Would you like to know the thoughts I think?
I would love to.
Sometimes when I’m in a really bad spot, I literally say these and I kind of preach a sermon to myself kind of thing.
So number one, God always loves us and nothing can separate us from that love. So I focus on that. Nothing’s going to separate me from him ever. I am forever loved, for always. That’s a huge thing to focus on. How about God’s with me, even in the hardest times, he says he never leaves or forsakes me. That means that when I’m hurting, he’s hurting. And he, I mean, he wept with Mary and Martha when Lazarus was in the grave, right? He weeps with those who weep and God promises us someday he will make everything right and bring about peace and harmony. Whatever I’m going through is not forever. (Nicole: Right) It will not last. And God takes even the worst of things and manages to teach us from them and bring good from them. And that’s one of the things I’ll say sometimes, would you teach me through this? Teach me, I don’t get it. I hate it, but don’t let me miss the lessons in it, Lord. I know you can teach me through it. And then another wonderful thought to think, God will not let evil win. He has conquered death and is the Victor and the day will come when every knee will bow. I don’t care how powerful the evil person is his knee is gonna bow. Someday it’s going to bow. So things like that, Nicole, those are good thoughts to think. Right?
I like those.
And if we keep those going in the front of our minds, we can survive fearful time.
Yeah, and then worry won’t get a foothold in there. And distract us from doing what God wants us to do.
Exactly. It’s gotta be often.
Yeah, Oh yes, constantly even.
Oh my goodness. So can you summarize our faithful living lessons from Mary’s life?
Yes. So number one, faithful living means trusting that God will care for us and do the work in and through us. Number two, faithful living means yielding to God’s will and receiving what happens to us as from his hands. Number three, faithful living means acting on our belief in our daily lives. And number four, faithful living means keeping our minds and thoughts focused on things that are true and right and godly.
They are so good and they’re much easier to say than they are to do.
I know they sound so lovely, if only I could do them.
I know it, it’s so funny, you know, I’ll give a talk or something. I’ll be like, oh wow, must live this out. Can’t just say it.
Yeah, it’s tough.
Yeah. It is. It is. I don’t like walking in surrender all the time. (Nicole: No!) You know, I just don’t. I want to fight against the hard things that come my way. There’s a saying in scripture, he kicked against the goads, you know? And then sometimes I like want to kick down the cement wall that God’s put up for my own good.
You know, and just force something that clearly God doesn’t want to have happen. And it’s just never right to do it that way.
I know. Sometimes I feel like I stomp my foot like a stubborn little toddler and I’m like, seriously, but I don’t want to do this God, but oh!
Right, right. Yeah. Either way. Or, I do want to do this. Why are you shutting this door?
So, so yeah, so walking in surrender is hard. I don’t think it’s wrong to want to go to a doctor if I’m sick. You know, it’s not like, oh, I receive this. I will not get care and treatment. Right.
Right. Absolutely not.
But I do think I need to receive that God at least allowed the sickness or whatever it is for a season. Right? (Nicole: Yeah) So you can still say, Lord, I hope this is temporary,
But I receive what is and teach me, you know, and that’s what I’ve learned with sickness now is to say, teach me through this. I would love to be healed. And I know you can, but while I’m in it, I receive what’s happening today. And I want to learn from it.
Yes. Because he loves us and there’s a reason why he’s not miraculously healing us. (Sharon: Yes) And it’s for our good, even if it feels yucky.
Exactly. And we have to receive it. Yeah, yeah. Or if Ray loses his job or our house burns to the ground in a fire, it’s not like I have to be super happy and go, yay, let’s throw a party. My house burned to the ground and Ray has no job. (Nicole: Where’s the marshmallows?) No. Lament is allowed.
One is allowed to cry. This is not that. But I do need to receive hard things in the sense that God ultimately has everything under his control. God knew Ray was going to lose his job if he did, which he hasn’t.
You know, or whatever. My house is not burned to the ground as far as I know, when I left it, it was standing. So, but we do need to receive that things are under his control and he can work through terrible circumstances and situations we don’t like for his good. Nothing stumps. God and makes him scratch his head and worry about what to do next. Right?
Nothing. He is sovereign. It’s all under his control.
Yes. And Sharon, I think our part in all of this is being faithful in the little things with God. So we are ready for these big, terrible things if they need to come, you know? And we talked about this before on the other podcast about forming good habits with Jesus. So if we are faithful and meeting with him daily, reading the Bible, praying always, and just walking with Jesus, even when horrible things come around we’ll be more prepared because we’ll be used to leaning on him, you know, and used to talking to him and asking for help.
And we will have have deeper roots, you know? So we won’t be completely blown over by these trials.
You’re exactly right. And you know, that is what sustained me when Ray was gone in the Persian Gulf War. I had already established that daily quiet time pattern. It was the only thing that hadn’t changed. (Nicole: Wow) Was meeting with God. There was still a couch. There was still a cup of tea. There was still my Bible, you know, I didn’t know where I was living. I had soldiers wandering around with their little rifles, protecting me from terrorists. But meeting with God had not changed. And I’m so glad I had that habit first before this hard time came on me because that was my rhythm, to meet with him and to start the day in trust. So.
And the things God calls us to we can literally do anywhere. We can pray anywhere in any state. We could be youth, lying in a hospital bed on the ventilator and we can still pray if our mind’s awake. We can read our Bibles. We can remember scriptures that we’ve memorized.
Even if we don’t have a Bible with us, we can remember the scriptures. You’re right.
Yes. And we can love him and love others wherever we are. So if we do those things every day, when it’s nice and cushy and going well, we can do them in prison.
Right. Exactly. And when we’re like all flustered, and like I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do, on a hard thing. I go back to, well, what can I do? What can I do? And that’s what Mary did. She, she kept her trust. (Nicole: Mmm, absolutely) No matter what. So, well let’s pray. I want to be more like Mary. Oh Lord God, thank you for this beautiful, beautiful woman who received a complete change to the way her life should go. Received that you were going to use her in an incredible way to carry Messiah in her womb. A woman that hurt when she saw Jesus die on the cross, a woman that lost her husband early in life, who, who went through hard times but with trust, trust in you. Father, it’s what we want. It’s what we need. And we thank you for it. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Amen. It’s hard to believe that this is our very last episode of season four, Sharon.
It is. I can’t believe it either. It seems like just yesterday that the Sweet Selah board was talking to me in the summer telling me I should do a podcast and I didn’t even know what they were. I had never listened to one in my life. And they’re like, we think you should start a podcast. I’m like, a what? (Both laughing) But to think God brought you to the team and off we went with it. I’m so thankful. I have loved studying the Word and sharing life with you too. And we’ve already got plans for season five.
Including a party. I think this is gonna be so much fun for our local podcast followers. So I’m kind of excited about that, Nicole. Why didn’t you share what we’ll be studying next season, as you close us out?
We are so excited about our next Bible study in this podcast, Sharon and I will be digging into the book of Ephesians together. I have been studying it on my own and have just loved the simple and straightforward truth about who Christ is and how we are to live and love as Christians. There is so much encouragement in Ephesians. We will take a break until mid-February and then be back with a brand new season and plans for a podcast party at the end of it. Watch for the first episode February 15th, 2022, God-willing. The party will be planned at the end of the season in May. Until then dear listeners, please do go back and listen to any podcasts you have missed. Please do consider supporting the new season with a gift at SweetSelah.org/donations. And please do have a very Merry Christmas. Live life in faith friends. Don’t be afraid.
Speaker 2 (27:40):
We are so glad you stopped for a while with us. This Sweet Selah Moments Podcast is a co-operative production of Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries. More information about this podcast can be found @SweetSelah.org. Thank you for joining us.
You can print and download the transcript here.