mary and elizabethLast night our family watched The Nativity Story over Coke Zero and homemade pizza. We’re a serious movie family; pretty much every Saturday brings “pizza and movie night” to our home.

True, the movie takes sizeable liberties with the biblical narrative to ‘make stuff fit,’ but it does a pretty good job at inviting us into Mary’s personal journey. It struck me that this poor, teenage girl offered a beautifully naive yes to God without having a clue what she’d gotten herself into. Within a few months, her life cartwheeled from normal to painful to devastating to powerful to glorious. That’s a lot to go through for a kid who, in our society, would not have yet graduated from high school. The story arc alone is enough to give a girl morning sickness, never mind the hormones.

Imagine Mary’s self doubt for the first month or two: Did I imagine the whole thing? Am I losing my mind? Who am I to think I can become the mother of God’s son? Do I tell mom and dad? Joseph? This is insane.

Imagine the scorn and judgement that swirled up around her when she started to show: Slut, whore, immoral, tainted, rejected. I can’t believe I trusted you, you’re better than this. Your life is ruined.

Imagine the outrage flung at her when she tried to explain she’d been impregnated by God: Sacrilege, blasphemy, evil. Well I never! The girl has clearly lost it. She’s delusional. She should be stoned, that’s what.

It’s not hard to fathom why Mary packed up her stuff and got out of Dodge for a few months to visit Elizabeth, whom the angel had told her was also miraculously pregnant.

Samers!

From the moment Mary arrived she was welcomed with open arms. Even before the pair smothered each other with hugs and kisses, Elizabeth’s little one leapt in her womb at the presence of Jesus in Mary. John, it seems, was a prophet before birth. He felt the truth before he saw it.

But what a gift. In that moment, Mary knew: I’m not crazy. God is at work all around me. I’m part of a larger story. I’m going to be okay.

In that moment, imagine Elizabeth’s amazement: The long awaited Messiah whom her son would herald was taking shape in the womb of her cousin! How wild is that? Her unborn son’s destiny was already flowing through the delicate veins of Mary’s boy in utero. What God had done for her—this pregnancy—was also for Mary’s sake, was also for the world’s sake. Her miracle anchored Mary, and Mary’s miracle anchored her in return.

They needed each other, these women. God knew they couldn’t go it alone. Not with something this big, this important. So he kept the thing in the family. Powerful!

The encouragement to me, beyond the miraculous planning of God for our Messiah and salvation, is so practical. When God conceives something in me—a dream, a miracle, a mission—I am not alone. The thing God is doing within me is not forming in a vacuum, but within an intricate web of purpose and favour designed by God. And there may just be someone close to me who’s heart would skip a beat to hear about what God is doing with me. It could even be that what God is doing with them needs that visit from me too.

You are a Mary in need of an Elizabeth. But you are also an Elizabeth waiting for your Mary.

Whoah.

I’m going to ask you to take a step of faith here. Maybe it’s time to speak what you’ve been keeping secret. Maybe that crazy thing God has laid on your heart needs a voice. Maybe here is the place to get it in writing. Maybe, just maybe, your Elizabeth will read what you wrote and affirm the whole thing.

What is God forming in you? I dare you to share.