"Let it be done to me ..."
Those were Mary's words in that incredible moment when Heaven came down and kissed earth and the Son of God was conceived in her.
"Let it be done to me ..."
It was the ultimate "Yes, Lord" -- a moment of true and total surrender of a human will to the will of the Almighty. Isn't that what we all as believers should be moving towards?
And yet this: "Let it be done to me ..." does not mark an accomplishment or arrival in Mary's life. This "Yes Lord" was just the beginning and it would come with a great price.
But can a young girl possibly understand the price? Can any of us?
Perhaps she had counted some of the cost. A young woman turning up pregnant while only betrothed? We can rest assure there were whispers, askew glances, silent judgements that proved all too articulate in the dark corners where gossip festers like encroaching mold.
Perhaps her visit to her relative Elizabeth came at an opportune moment for many reasons. It's good to get a break from the accusing glares and raised eyebrows. But Mary had said, "Let it be done to me... " And she meant it.
Wasn't that enough?
Then at time when she needed her family most -- a time when a mother, sisters, aunties consult, confide, and comfort. She had to leave them all and go the Bethlehem with Joseph. Here on the cusp of giving birth for the very first time -- the birth that had resulted from her saying, "Yes, Lord" In the place of her greatest weakness and highest need, she had to leave everything she knew and travel into the unknown.
As they approached the city, she must've felt the first contraction. But having never experienced a contraction before, she couldn't have been sure that that's what it was. How she must have longed for her mother, sister or aunt for guidance. Alone with her betrothed as the pain consumed her, together they had to figure this birth process out -- in a stable.
But this was her lot when she said, "Let it be done to me..."
Was not God in control of all things? Couldn't He have orchestrated this a little better? Why did it have to be so hard?
And still it did not end there.
As the blood of massacred children began to flow in the streets, Mary had to wrap up that precious child and run away to save his life. As this promised child's life hung in the balance, the young family had to leave everything, and race away in the middle of the night from their homeland and culture into a foreign land, into Egypt. They were refugees, people without a home. And as refugees, as strangers in a strange land, they had to figure out how to survive.
Why did have to be so hard? She had said "Let it be done to me..." That's not an easy thing to say in all honesty. Wasn't this enough?
But God would make it still harder.
After those harrowing early years, life may have settled into common routine, for awhile. But Mary's greatest hardship was yet to come. The nightmare that haunts every mother's secret place... the terror that reaches deeper than fear to utter loss ... Mary, who said, "Let it be done to me", had to watch her son, her first born child, be tortured. She had to watch as His blood dripped into the dirt of the ancient street and coagulate into a murky grotesque mud to be trampled underfoot.
She could only double over and cringe at the clank of hammer pounding iron as the nails tore into his flesh.
She could only remain at the foot of the cross and cry as he died. For although He was Savior of the world, and she may have had a glimpse that reality, He was still her baby.
The greatest reality in her mother's heart was that the baby miraculously conceived in her, the one she had nursed in difficult times, carried to Egypt, brought back to Israel and raised -- that precious child now hung dead before her.
"Let it be done to me..."
Those words of total surrender did not represent the culmination of her walk of faith. They were but the first step.
"Why does have to be so hard?" We all ask when we experience only small hiccups on the road of faith.
Why? Because sacrifice cannot exist without pain. Surrender cannot occur without loss.
Because, in the end, discipleship was meant to be costly.
May we embrace the costs this Christmas season and faithfully say, "Let it be done to me."