Article: TO BE THE SERVANT OF GOD: FROM THE LIFE OF MARY | Anu Susan Shalom
One of the most respected and appreciated characters in the Bible is Mary, the mother of Jesus. The reason behind this is her sacrificial life, which is challenging. This article tries to explain to young girls how to live a holy life that is pleasing to God. We are living in a wicked and perverse generation and let the word of God guide us on how we should live as a Godly child. I would like to highlight Mary as a role model for girls. Jesus chose her to be his earthly mother. If we live a life like her, Jesus will definitely use us for His glory.
1.The age of Mary
According to scholars, Mary was a teenager most probably in her early teens. As we know teenage is characterised by rapid physical development. Numerous changes happen in a girl’s body preparing her for the ‘womanhood’. These changes seem to be stressful for some girls, but it is to be understood that these changes are normal. It would always be helpful to discuss any matter of concern regarding the physical development with your mother or motherly figure whom you respect. Also, teenagers should take special care in their food habits. Always remember to have a healthy and balanced diet. It is not at all advisable to do dieting (if the growth is in a normal and proper pace) and maintain your body at this stage as your body needs lots of nutrients for its growth and at the same time during these years there is lot of academic expectations which can be fulfilled only if the brain functions properly, and which needs proper nourishment.
From the passage of our meditation, we can see that Mary was engaged to Joseph. There is no harm in thinking that Mary was physically strong and matured and was preparing herself for a married life with Joseph.
Teenagers usually gets easily disturbed emotionally when they compare themselves with others. The thought that ‘I am not as tall as her’ or ‘I am not as fair as her’ or I can’t sing like her’ brings down one’s self esteem. We need to understand that everyone around us is different and that no two human beings are alike. Psalms 139: 13 -17 says that all the days ordained for a person is written in His book and God has wonderfully knitted and woven for a special purpose in life. We can understand that each person is ‘Custom made’ with the required specifications and qualities needed for the specific purpose of God in our lives. So it is meaningless to compare with others! Teenage girls are seen to be beauty conscious and seems to be worried for even small things. However, true beauty according to Bible is not our physical appearance. It is the beauty of inner self- unfading beauty of gentle and quiet spirit. (1 Peter.3:3,4). Emotions play it’s extreme role in the teenage. Here, it is written that Mary was greatly troubled. But hearing the voice from above and knowing the will of God made her strong and calm.
Staying emotionally healthy is very important during teenage and for this only trusting in God and His words can help us. Not to forget, teenage is the age when our social development is in its new phase. Small kids most of the time interacts with the society in the presence of their parents. But as kids grow up they get chance to understand and interact with the people around them and they understand the expected rules and norms of a society. Mary knew very well that having a baby before the marriage is not acceptable in the society and that it is punishable. That is why she was afraid and nervous hearing the words of the angel.
Mary replied to angel asking how will she have a baby since she was a virgin. Virgin is a person who has never had a sexual relationship. The biblical principle strictly says that a person should be a virgin before marriage. Free from sexual immorality (1 corinthians.6:18). In 1 corinthians 7, while talking about marriage, Paul says about marrying a virgin is not sinful. But the present situations have differed a lot from the Bible expectations. Surveys show shocking results of the increase in number of premarital sexual experiences and it is observed that the social norms are slowly loosening the bond of marriage. Live in relationships is a trend which vividly discourages the purity of one’s life. Metropolitan cities have already started the culture of providing lodging and hostel facilities for students where boys and girls live together. Even school students are courageous enough to do the ‘experiments’ and ‘test drives’ shamelessly. As a young Christian, it is our responsibility to obey the word of God in its complete reverence. Young girls should learn to say NO to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and Godly lives in the present age (Titus.2:12). As Mary had the assurance and submission that ‘ I am the Lord’s servant’, young Christian girls should be firm in the belief that they are Lord’s servants in schools, colleges or workplaces and that they will submit themselves only for the Lord’s will and not to ungodliness.
3.Time for God
Mary spent time with the angel of God conversing about the promise and her fear/doubt. Angel’s answer about the will of God and the knowledge about the work of God made her stay strong and happy in the situation which was really critical as it was against the norms. In our life also, teenage is considered as a critical time when decision making is really difficult. May it be decisions related to studies especially selection of a subject to be majored or selection of a course/ career/ college, selection of good friends or any similar situation. Spending time with God and His word to know the will of God for your life will make you strong enough to overcome the difficulties. Isn’t it really amazing to know that we can have an intimate relationship with the living God in such a way that we can share all our worries even the silliest and the smallest thought and God answers and guides you in His ways!!
4.Response to the will of God
Once Mary understood the plan of God for her, she was submissive. She did not think about her future and her comfort. But was totally willing to be a part of the huge plan of God. God will reveal His will to the one who spends time with Him. The success lies in yielding to God’s plan. We may have different plans and wishes for our life. But having a submissive attitude towards the will of God will definitely be a great blessing.
Adolescence or teenage is characterised by problems such as Identity crisis. But for a true Christian, the identity is ‘I am Lord’s servant’. If you truly have this attitude, Jesus gives the assurance in Mathew 28: 20 “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Let us keep our identity as a servant of God in all the spheres of our life and experience the presence and power of the living father in all the walks of our life.
– Anu Susan Shalom