This post concludes a short series that includes the following posts:
The future is a scary place. Some people love the unknown. I don’t. I can admit it. It frightens me terribly.
However, the past is not a safe place either. Certainly it’s familiar. But not safe.
I’ve never seen the Mona Lisa, but I’ve heard the bulletproof glass protecting this treasure also distorts it. When you gaze upon the famous portrait with the enigmatic smile, you also see your face and everyone else’s reflected in the glass.
Nostalgia is like that glass. It distorts the past with phantom reflections of ourselves. It twists old photos and journal entries into a fake reality of the “good ole days.” And when faced with the frightening unknown future, it’s tempting to lose oneself chasing this will-o’-the-wisp.
I mentioned in a previous post about Debbie’s comment to me, “Everything’s changing.” Those two words haunt me.
So perhaps it’s serendipitous that the Dormition Fast, in which we honor Mary, the birth-giver of God, overlaps with the writing of this series on “Waxing Nostalgic.”
Imagine the moment Mary heard Gabriel’s proclamation that she would carry and give birth to the Son of God. I know this sounds melodramatic, but time must have stopped in the silent moment before Mary responds. You can almost hear creation drawing and holding a collective breath in excited anticipation. God’s entire plan from Adam onward lay on the shoulders of this young maiden.
In that silence, what was going through Mary’s head? Although only a teenager, she knows what happens to unwed mothers — the gossip, the rumors, the spurning and the potential death.
But from a young age, her parents, Joachim and Anna, told her that she was a promise from God. She had lived in the Temple most of her life, dedicated to God. But she hadn’t expected her devotion to escort her into the disgrace and stigma of an unwed mother.
Then she breaks the silence. Facing an unknown and frightening future, she whispers. “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Time restarts and the angels and creation let out their breath knowing God’s mysterious plan moves forward.
Imagine how thrilled and delighted God’s heart was at that moment?
Mary said “Yes” to God and became a home for Christ. She’s not an incubator, randomly chosen from Israel’s women. No. She’s a person in whom God finds favor. She has learned to say “Yes” to God all her life.
And God finds favor in each of us. He calls us to a similar destiny in his kingdom. Saying “Yes” to God, we become a home for Christ and “birth” him into our world as we embody him, becoming like him by grace.
“Waxing nostalgic” the last several weeks has been a wonderful experience. I have a life filled with fantastic memories and precious relationships. I know I am a rich man. And I am a tremendously thankful man.
The experience has also been fruitful. I’m learning that we prepare for our future by reflecting on and learning from our past. Too often, I’ve said “No” to God. I want to understand why. I want to grow in grace so that I naturally say “Yes” to God. I want Christ to live in me and through me.
I’m choosing to end this series on my fiftieth birthday. While this series ends, the process won’t. I’m sure there will be more posts reflecting on the past to prepare for the future.
The terrifying unknown future looms before us. God is next to us encouraging us to step forward. And he’s in the midst of the unknown calling us to him. His destiny, to bear Christ in the world, awaits us.
“I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”