“And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.” Luke 1:38
The life of Mary, the mother of our Lord has always deeply intrigued me. Here is a woman, engaged to be married when out of nowhere an angel appears before her in the night informing her that she would become pregnant and bear the Son of God.
I can only imagine what my response would be – something of complete awe and shock – even panic.
Can you fathom trying to explain that to your fiancee? Thankfully the angel visited Joseph as well and allayed all of the natural reservations and fears that would have arisen from the fact that his bride-to-be was with child.
What amazes me is how quickly and completely she submitted to the will of the Lord. In just a few moments her life was radically changed forever; yet she was able to say “be it unto me according to thy word.”
The definition of the word “handmaid” in Strong’s is “a slave, literally or figuratively, frequently therefore in a qualified sense of subjection or subserviency: bond, servant.”
Mary willingly submitted herself as a servant to the Lord. Knowing she could lose her beloved Joseph, and become an outcast among her friends and family, she yields herself as a servant to the design of the Almighty God.
I have to ask myself – can I even come close to that degree of servanthood?
When we are asked to endure difficult things, do we bare up under them with a servant’s heart, or with the heart of a rebel The women that I look up to in the scriptures were thoroughly feminine yet incredibly strong. These qualities need not be mutually exclusive. They endured much heartache and trial, yet they willingly submitted themselves to everything the Lord saw fit to inflict upon them.
Do we look at submitting to the Lord’s plan for our life as a feminine virtue? Obviously both male and female are required to submit to whatever the Lord expects of us; but I’m speaking of uniquely feminine qualities and callings – what is our response? Do we embrace these callings, or take up arms against them? There is no doubt that the roles of wife and mother are under assault today – are we defending the honor which is attached to these roles or are we aiding and abetting the enemy either directly or by way of a complacent attitude?
Gazing at the two lines on the pregnancy test, is the response of our heart joy or dismay? A mixture of the two? Pregnancy is a uniquely feminine calling, but it can also be one of the most difficult things we have to go through as women. Are we quick to say “be it unto me according to thy will” when we have several little ones and the test shows up an unplanned positive?
When we are at home all day long with our little ones, and the house is falling apart, the children are bickering back and forth, and you just want to curl up in bed and take a nap because you were up all night nursing the baby is the meditation of your heart “be it unto me according to thy will?”
Our husband calls us right when we are in the middle of a project, and asks us to drop everything and go run an errand for him. We know it will throw the rest of our day off. Do we want to be a servant and cheerfully submit, or grumble about having to be a helpmeet for our husband?
Believe me ladies, I’m talking to myself here. Trying to cultivate a truly feminine attitude at all times in my life is hard, hard work. Keeping a servant’s heart like Mary had does not come easy for me. But I long for the Lord to look upon me as His handmaiden, so I continue to wake up each day and try again, even when I go to bed feeling like I totally failed that day. And yes, we all fail. But the Lord is quick to forgive and give strength for the new day if only we will press on towards the prize that is His alone to give. To wash us clean and make us white as snow.
I like to remind myself of this quote from one of my favorite movies. Particularly at the end of a disappointing day!
As we go about our day, let’s look for ways to submit as a servant to our Lord, just as Mary did. Remember ladies, feminine virtues are much, much more than the sum of its parts. If you add modesty, tea parties, and flowers all together, it might not equal femininity. It requires godly virtues, and a heart that desires to serve the Lord. And above all, we must have his spirit to be with us so that we might be renewed day by day.
The feminine virtues and attributes are coming later in this series; I certainly do not want to diminish their importance, but if we do not develop a heart that longs to please the Lord, all of our feminine looks and tastes will fail us and in the end we be but an empty form.