Mary’s Pregnancy Journal—Fifth Entry
Continuing a series of entries in an imaginary journal, as we think about what might have been in the mind of Mary.
“God’s mercy is for those who fear God from generation to generation.”
I have been afraid of a lot of things lately: I’ve been afraid of what my neighbors will say about my pregnancy. I’ve been afraid of what Joseph will say. I’ve been afraid of what this pregnancy might do to my parents.
And, yeah, I’ve been afraid of God, at least a little bit.
I know that when people talk about “fearing” God, like when it is the beginning of wisdom, like in the psalms and proverbs, they are talking about respect, they are talking about awe and wonder, they are talking about appreciating God as God. I know that.
But there are times when we really fear God. Well, I do, at least. There are times when responding in faith, saying “yes, God,” to whatever comes along, puts a person in a pretty scary position. My parents told me the story of Sarah and Abraham leaving behind everything they knew to just follow God with no idea of a destination. They told me about Ruth giving up her life to look after her mother-in-law. They taught me about Rahab risking her life to help the Israelites take Jericho. All of those brave people, generation after generation, trusting God and following in faith, but still, they had to be terrified, at least sometimes.
I said “yes” to the message from God that Gabriel brought to me. I was so sure I couldn’t be pregnant, but I said yes, I would be if God wanted it. Yet, I was nervous when I said it, and I got truly scared after the messenger left. And, try as I might, I go back and forth between being absolutely confident in God and God’s promise and God’s plan that I don’t entirely understand and being scared out of my mind about this pregnancy and what it means. And what comes after the pregnancy? I don’t know a thing about giving birth! I have no idea if I’m ready to be a mother to a regular, mortal baby—well, I have an idea, and it’s that I’m not ready at all—but the son of God? Seriously? How am I supposed to do this?
And it isn’t only fear of what God wants me to do. I find myself being afraid of God sometimes. Not in some I’d-better-do-what-God-wants-or-I’ll-get-struck-by-lightning kind of way. Frankly, God would be less scary sometimes if it worked that way. Instead, God makes me want to do God’s will, to go out on these big limbs, and then it feels like I’m left out there on my own. My fear of God is the fear of God forgetting that I’m not immortal, that I don’t know everything, don’t see everything, and getting me to do something I can’t get out of.
Yet God has mercy on me. God sent me to my wise cousin, the cousin I could tell anything, and she accepted my story without question. God found a way for me to travel to Jerusalem, no questions asked. God finds ways to reassure me and to help me be okay. God has gotten all of these people through, even when they were unsure and afraid—and I am pretty sure they must have been . . . a lot. God is finding ways to help Elizabeth and Zechariah past their fears, and I kind of hope I am part of that. God has used them to help me.
Somehow, I don’t think this is the last time I’ll need God’s mercy, God’s help to get past my fears. None of this is ending any time soon.