When she, a teenaged girl, unmarried, and of humble circumstance was told she would be the mother of the Christ, Mary responded with the words, Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word. Knowing that she would likely face the harsh gossip of her neighbors and friends, lose their company, her reputation, her stabilty…Mary responds with a song of praise, often referred to as The Magnificat:
My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.
Mary’s heart was full of Scripture, full of the faith, full of vision for God's mercy to her people, of his character and promise. She had invested herself in these things and when she faced likely the largest task, and call to trust in God, any of us can ever begin to imagine, the beauty of her heart was reflected in her response.
This last weekend, I was so privileged to retreat and rest, to learn and study and be challenged all at once during the Leader Intensive Training with Sally Clarkson at her home in Colorado. I can honestly say there has never been a time where I have been with her, where I did not come away wanting to be more like Jesus, longing for more of him and just feeling wholly loved. She loves so well. But, Sally has cultivated this in her life. She has spent time investing in her relationship with Jesus, investing in God s word; and so when she shares with others, this is what you see.
Whatever you invest yourself in, will be reflected in your soul. When I am stressed about the toll living in a post-christian and depraved culture is taking on my family, when I am struck with fear standing on a subway platform, when I am navigating my children into the bus before the doors close with a smack; my family and all around me, will see a clear reflection of my heart, because when I am squeezed, the content of my heart will come out.
There are times when I don t like what I see when my heart flows over, when my defenses are down. There is a voice that is pleading for control, a rushed feeling that carries into the rhythm of my children making it out the door, a sharp word on my tongue. We all have these moments. Deepening my resolve to be a woman of grace is one of the things I love about living in New York. I do not have space to be unintentional here. In a way, the city itself is a big squeeze. How will I respond? What am I the product of?
If I have a barren soul- if my internal life is a barren place- then what do I have to give? This life I have been given, is one of serving and pouring out- there must be water to share. As Sally shared with me this weekend, If I am investing in God’s word, in beauty and art and kindness- this is what will be reflected in my soul and pour into my children.
The Leader Intensive was a time for me to invest in learning how to do this job well, to renew vision, to refresh and restore so that I have something to give. This weekend was about renewal and about a beloved mentor painting a picture of beauty, of servanthood, of nurturing those in her influence with the Corpus of Scripture. It was the small gestures of lighting candles each day for tea time and having space to journal in the woods about the vision God has given to my life. It was about soaking it all in and being loved, and in being loved, being transformed.
I write a lot here about nourishing our hearts as moms, but I am not sure if I have ever shared why I am so passionate about taking opportunities to pour in to our souls- or how. There is a purpose each time I share a book, a piece of art or music, a craft or simply an idea. There is a bit of the Creator behind each of these things, a glimmer of rest for you that can be the beginning of lighting up your life. I am praying for beauty in your life today, praying for God to change and renew your heart, to bring you rest, that when the state of your soul is reflected, it will be full of faith. May we be women who seek to yield our will like Mary and may we grow in grace an truth so that we can invest in the lives of those coming behind us, sharing and pouring out what we have learned.
Please check out Sally s blog, I Take Joy, today to hear what other women at the Intensive learned and were impacted by. I know you will be so blessed! Several of their stories brought tears to my eyes!