Overshadowed… December 24, 2011


Jonathan in Miami

You probably have heard the traditional, well-traveled joke:

Question: “Why couldn’t Jesus be born in Alabama?”

Answer: “Because they couldn’t find three wise men and a virgin.” (My apologies to the good folks of Alabama. Actually, you can insert the name of any region you’d like to poke in the nose.)

As humorous as that may seem, finding a virgin–and even wise men–is always plausible. It is not the impossible quest nor even the pearl of great price. The part of the Christmas story that is most astounding and nearly beyond our present human comprehension, given our society’s climate, is the conception itself.

A girl being about thirteen years old and a virgin is not a rarity. A young lady possessing a fervor for God is even within the realm of possibility. But a thirteen-year-old girl who was able to understand the importance of a mission, while relegating herself to a lesser function for a greater good, while simultaneously ignoring her own personal reputation and needs? That is truly remarkable. Where would such a lass be found today? The preoccupation we have with American adolescence, allowing our offspring to not only be self-indulgent in their teens, but now also deep into their twenties and thirties, inhibits the foundation for pursuing the common good.

A young girl named Mary from Nazareth, was told she was going to have a baby. At least half of the American damsels would split out of there just with THAT revelation. She was told she would be a virgin–but become pregnant. You’re going to lose another 25% with that one. And then she was informed of an astounding fact: the Holy Spirit would overshadow her to bring it into being.

Overshadowed: being willing to set aside ego, cause, agenda and dreams for a season, to allow something of significance happen, benefitting others. How would you ever talk a thirteen-year-old girl into such a magnanimous choice? Where would you find a person willing to be overshadowed by the spirit–to allow God to birth something of eternal quality through her life?

This is the amazing part of the story. Yes–the truly marvelous proportion of the Christmas tale lies in the fact that God chose a woman as the implementation of salvation–and that woman had to counteract the rebellion of Eve by being willing to be overshadowed by spirit instead of overcome by her own desires. It is amazing.

It gets me thinking–am I willing, at any point in my life, to be overshadowed by the greater spiritual requirements of my time, to temporarily set aside my own wishes, to see something of significance transpire? And how would I do it without becoming self-righteous or appearing to be the martyr for the cause? Could I achieve any level of joy? Could I even become excited with the notion that something was going to happen and my hands and body were going to be the conduit? Do I possess the ability to abandon my own self-awareness long enough to let the Spirit of God overshadow me with a greater vision?

Most of the time the answer would be no. Not because I’m particularly resistant, but mostly due to the fact that I’m dull–especially if you caught me by surprise in the middle of the night, awakening me from sleep with some apparition from heaven trying to impress me with an idea. I would just attribute it to bad bologna or tainted lasagna.

Not Mary. Now, I don’t think Mary is worthy of worship–but I do think Mary demonstrates God’s resolute belief that Eden does not need to be lost just because Eve was trapped in a weaker moment. No. Along Comes Mary–a woman who allowed herself to be overshadowed by the spirit, to birth the hope of the world. She didn’t know what “Christ” meant in all of its intricacies. She just knew the world needed something more–and therefore, someone who would make herself available.

Overshadowedallowing ourselves to sit back and let God show us the greater capabilities of all of our faculties.


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