What is it like to carry promise? To remember, to remember, places and faces the Lord has etched into your heart and have grabbed at your affections. To surrender, to surrender, that this dream was his to give and to him alone it belongs. To wonder, to wonder, where the breakthrough he declared would be and when it would come. To suffer, to suffer, the grief of dreams not yet achieved.
A month ago I was fascinated by this line in the Bible, when I was writing my paper and studying Luke for it: “Mary kept these things in her heart.”
Luke 2:19 “But Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.”
Luke 2:51 “And his mother stored all these things in her heart.”
In the midst of a dense narrative where each line carries so much passing time condensed, these words catch my eye and snag at my heart. The author wrote in such a way that the reader would pause to listen in, for a few melancholy moments, to the inner thoughts and emotions of Mary, mother of Jesus.
She carried the Promised son of God in her womb for nine months. And when the child was born and grew up, she carried the promise that God spoke of Jesus: he would be very great and be called the son of the Most High, heir to the throne of David, reign over Israel forever and whose kingdom will never end. What a promise to carry, and to wait upon as she must have wondered in amazement how this would unfold upon this tumbling toddler, this temple-roaming pre-teenager, this thirty year old man fresh into ministry, this very human son of hers. It would all become clear only much later, when he in his most human moment was laid upon stone in Joseph’s tomb, and three days later rose again. And still, clear would be seen but through a tainted glass, for who knows how His great kingdom lasts when there are rulers of earth and rulers under wreaking havoc everywhere there is to rest one’s eye on?
She has my sympathies. I carry promise too, and more than one or two. The Lord said, this is going to be a year of breakthrough. The Lord said, you will send and lead teams from here, you will write songs of healing to the nations and with words set captives free. The Lord said, this is where I have called you, serve this house, I will use you. In his unfolding of time, I find my faith often folding inside. It is not clear now, but I will see, sooner and later. But seeing does not always lead to believing, and believing is going to require more than my sense of sight.
She has my admiration. It is no simple feat to carry, to labour, to ponder, to store hope in her heart, to treasure the words of God. It is no small thing, that over her lifetime, her days were lived to remember, to surrender, to wonder, to suffer.
But we will always have hope. An anchor steady and sure for our souls. Though the victory is not yet felt, the victory is already won. His kingdom is forever established over the earth while kings and rulers yet enact their plans.
What is it like to carry promise? It is to remember, to surrender, to wonder, to suffer, and all this is eternal gain as I stand under the shadow of the Cross, at which even my richest earthly gain would be counted as loss.
Happy Good Friday dear Jesus, You made the worst day in human history the best day in all eternity.