[ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chelsa Budd spent a good chunk of her childhood at the Glen Elm Church of Christ. Recently married, she continues to call Regina home and spends her days serving in ministry with Athletes in Action.]
There are so many things that we can’t explain. But I think God designed it to be that way. Sometimes we think he leaves us alone in the mystery… but he knows that, that is where faith, trust, and growth intersect and lead us into light. I think about the crux of our faith, that is, the perfect life, the death, and then the resurrection of Jesus. This amazing mystery has the potential to frame every aspect of our lives. Grace is the only thing we can stand on – that which we’ve never been able to do ourselves! We can’t be perfect, but then, God has known that from the start. He’s created mystery as this precious place where we meet him and begin to find restoration from our brokenness.
Try explaining the mystery of how Jesus was raised from the dead. Physiologically. How? Right. You can’t. I can’t. No one can! But it’s not a cruel or unkind mystery that God leaves us with in that. In fact, would he be worthy of our worship if we could explain him away, put him in a box, set him on a shelf, where we have all the answers?
As we ruminate on our waiting, and ponder advent, we’re brushed, over and over again, with mystery in the story of Jesus. In Luke 1 we read the following:
41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
There are obvious mysteries here… why here? Why now? How did a leaping baby lead to such proclamation?
But I think about Mary, and the reaction she likely received from many in her community as they found out she was pregnant, being betrothed, but not yet married. I’m sure it can’t have been pretty.
43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
God used Elizabeth’s affirmation to bring hope into Mary’s life. This hope leads Mary to pour out her heart to God, proclaiming his goodness (47-55).
Mary is in a difficult place. But God leads her into community, where she is cloaked in grace and seen through God’s eyes. Elizabeth could have scolded, judged, pushed to the side; instead, the Spirit filled her, and she saw what God saw. I can only imagine the tears that must have fallen from Mary’s eyes at such a greeting from her loved one. It’s a small picture of the restoration God wants to do in each of us. It’s his mystery… that restoration. How does it happen? And when?
Advent calls us to wait… to sit in the mystery of our returning Savior, but to revel in his grace, to grow, to trust while we wait.
God blessed these women with the mystery of his presence and his plan. He blessed them with each other, in community, awash with grace, aware of the one Lord of their lives. This intersection of mystery and love lead to light, where we find grace.
How is God leading you to bring light into the lives of those around you this Christmas? How is he calling you to wait? To trust? To know his mystery for you is ultimately for good?
His heart for us is love… and the greatest light we have is found in the mystery of just that!