Finding Favor

She felt the shock and her speech was stopped. The sights and sounds seemed to lift her above the ground into a cloud of confusion. Was this a dream or was this her reality? The chaos calmed for a moment and the noise in her mind was silenced when her lips spoke what her mind could not fathom... “How will this be... since I am a virgin?”

As the angel explained this unnerving mystery, she felt her pulse slow in beat with the assurance of these final words, “No word from God will ever fail.”

Her gaze made its way to the ground as she bent one knee to the dirt below, followed by the other. She clasped her hands in humility and in one breath made a proclamation of her true identity, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”

Light flashed before her and this one called “Gabriel” was gone in a moment. As she slowly regained her strength, she bounced to her feet. After hearing from this angel that her cousin had conceived, she knew she must hurry to see her. If anyone was to believe what she had just been told, Elizabeth would.

Mary grabbed a few fresh clothes that had been drying outside her back doorway on a limb in the noonday sun. She stuffed them in her linen tote and told her family she was heading to Judea, she had just received news that must reach her cousin immediately.

Her strides were swift at first, but as she reminded herself of the length of the journey, her pace reduced and her rush receded. And then, she remembered... She remembered a story that suddenly resonated with her uncertainties. Her ancestor, grandmother of ages ago, seemed to have once shared a similar destiny.

Sarah... Sarah... Sarah... she recalled. Mary remembered the promise Sarah received, that she would give birth regardless of the impossibility. Though old in age and never having conceived, Mary reflected on the similarities. She too was told that a son would be given. Though Sarah had laughed at first, she also responded with a question. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

Mary realized she was living in the fulfillment of Sarah’s faith. Had it not been for her audacity to believe, Mary knew her own people would have never came to be. So what could it be that would become of her own faith? She did not know completely but she knew if she could do as Sarah had done, her ancestors would one day call her blessed. And with that, she took in a full breath and exhaled with confidence.

“I am not alone. If Sarah considered God faithful, then I can too,” Mary thought.

Her mind stopped there and a smile stretched through her cheeks.

Hours went by as she put one foot in front of the other, pondering many things in her heart.

Upon reaching Judea, Mary shouted at Elizabeth from a distance. Turning to face her younger cousin, Elizabeth echoed her shout while the baby in her womb suddenly kicked and tumbled more vividly than ever before. She paused for a moment to place her hand on her womb, and then ran to wrap her arms around Mary as a tear of joy trickled down her face.

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!,” Elizabeth exclaimed. “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Mary’s heart stopped. Like a hand-wrapped gift from heaven, those words assured her of all the thoughts she had had on the long journey there. What was said of Sarah had just been said of her too.

Mary broke out in a song of praise, thanking the Lord for remembering her and remembering her people. She thanked Him for His mercy to Abraham and Sarah and those of whom she had descended, because the Lord had kept His promise to them. And He would surely keep her promise, too.

In celebration and rejoicing, Mary did not know that just as Sarah would unknowingly surrender her son to sacrifice that day Abraham took him up to the hill country, she herself would watch her own child offer Himself as the ultimate sacrifice on a hill called Calvary. She could never have known that her promise would come with such pain.

But, as she stayed there with Elizabeth in the months that followed, she found the courage to walk steadily in strength. Every question seemed to cease and all her worries were freed with these words of the angel on repeat: “Mary, you have found favor with God.”

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