Sometimes you hear people say “Oh God loves you” and “God sees you as precious” but you’ve never actually seen it said in the Bible, or never really looked it up. It’s so odd that it’s an established fact that God loves humanity (yes, established fact)…that God loves me more than anything else, but when you read it in God’s word, it’s suddenly very real, shockingly real.
Every once in a while, I get caught up in the way the world looks at God. While there’s acknowledgement of a ‘higher power’ and hope for a purpose in life, God is seen as a distant creator of the world who has no ties with His creation.
“You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you,” (Isaiah 43:4,5). There you go, planet earth. Sometimes I just have to read that to remind myself that God loves me and that it’s not just what people say. I’m so glad God has given me His word, that I can experience Him directly via the Holy Spirit instead of depending on a priest. Jesus is my High Priest, my advocate, and I can know Him because of what He did for me so many years ago.
This morning I re-read Isaiah 43 once or twice, letting the words imprint themselves on my heart and remind me that I am loved beyond all imagination.
Another thing I did this morning was contemplate the Catholic worship of the Virgin Mary; you know, typical first-thing-in-the-morning contemplations concerning denominational doctrine…the usual 🙂 The other day, Bree and I were discussing the difference between Episcopalian and Catholic worship. She said, “we don’t worship Mary, we just pray to her…she’s the only person other than Jesus who never sinned.”
The reason I thought about this today was because along with my study in Isaiah I also began reading the book of Luke. Luke is the only gospel (save Matthew) that lays out the specific beginnings of Christ and John the Baptist. It starts off by introducing John’s parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth. Now, it specifies that “they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord,” (1:6). Jump back with me to Job in the Old Testament and look at the description of his character: “that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1). Go back even further to Noah, who was described as “a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walking faithfully with God” (Genesis 6:9). These are only some of the people in the Bible who were described as being blameless before God, yet they merit no worship by humanity. I’m not saying they should be worshiped, after all they’re human, flawed, and temporary, while God is perfect and eternal. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Anyway, when Mary is introduced, she is introduced as “a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph.” She’s not immediately described as someone who seems to merit God’s favor (even though in the next verse or so she’s told she has “found favor with God”). Andy Stanley in The Grace of God, takes Abraham, who is similar to Mary in the way that he was chosen by God for a divine purpose. He says,
“The Lord would initiate this covenant (the Abrahamic covenant) as an expression of His grace, not in response to any merit of theirs…God selected Abram. He plucked from the cradle of ancient civilization an ordinary, unknown member of an idol-worshiping society…And then, for no reason other than He just wanted to, God made Abram a threefold promise…” (covenant found in Genesis 12).
What’s my point? Well, while Mary was not part of an ordinary idol-worshiping society, she hadn’t really done anything to merit God’s favor, at least the Bible doesn’t tell us so. Similar to Abram, God extended His grace, His favor, to a sinner (for all men are born sinners), Mary. While Mary was chosen to give birth to the Son of God, she was not chosen to be glorified or exalted as if she were equal with God, but rather she was chosen to glorify and exalt the one to whom she gave birth.
Also, throughout the gospels, while “Mary the Mother of Jesus,” and then post-crucifixion, “Mary the mother of James and of Joses and Salome,” is certainly mentioned, her role suddenly dulls in the light of Jesus Christ, who reminds humanity just how powerful their God is, that salvation can not be found through princes or works or possessions, but rather through the One who is the way, the truth, and the light. Nobody can get to the Father except through Jesus.
It can be easy to think of Mary as some supernatural being, some mystical chosen one, since she WAS the one to give birth to the Son of God, but the thing is, she’s still human. While her role was incredibly important, she was still created by God and in need of her Savior Son.
After talking to God about everything—what I was thinking, what I want, what I’m thankful for, what I feel stupid about, everything—I went and worked out for TWO HOURS. I’m on week something of Spartan Training, and my body is feeling it. I really have to wonder if I’m going to be able to do this…I mean, it’s TWELVE MILES and TWENTY-FIVE PLUS OBSTACLES…but then I remember I have God, and that I love running, and that I enjoy doing absolutely insane things, like a Spartan Race…and I figure it’ll be okay 🙂
I skyped with Mom and was reminded that Jimmy has braces, Gracie looks like a little woman, and everything is changing. I’m not sure how I feel about all of it…I mean, my siblings are growing up. The munchkins are becoming more than munchkins; they’re becoming *shiver* teenagers. I guess it’s just a matter of remembering that, even though everything around me is changing, God is still the same. We’ll see how this goes.
I headed over to Maria’s house around five and made cookies n’ cream rice Krispie treats…they came out pretty messy but pretty good all the same 🙂 There were only five of us tonight, so we had some really in-depth, over-analyzing, discussions about Galatians and God’s love for us and how absolutely ridiculous His grace is. He understands completely just how disgustingly unfaithful and selfish we are but He still blesses us and doles out His love on us. We discussed Hosea, how marrying a prostitute and being faithful to her was a model of God’s relationship with us. We’re constantly chasing everything except God, as if anything in the world could possibly compare to Him. We’re such silly and fickle creatures, but He desperately, passionately, inconceivably, incomprehensibly, cosmically loves us.
Tomorrow is homework day (another homework day, that is). God has just been….God is so….I don’t even know how to explain it. I feel like my vocabulary is pathetic when it comes to describing my God and His character and His love. Even when I do describe Him, I just don’t feel like my words ever do Him justice. Some words come to mind, like sublime, amazing, awesome, ridiculous, nonsensical, unconventional, illogical, beautiful, forgiving, understanding, omnipotent, omniscient, and a few others…but all of these dull in comparison to who God actually is….and to think I’m on scratching the surface.
“How great is God–beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out.” —Job 36:26