The Irish author Colm Toibin created a fictional portrait of St. Mary in his book The Testament of Mary. He presents Mary in her elderly years as a single woman seeking to understand the events that become the narrative of the New Testament and the foundation of the Christian faith.
The back cover relates that Mary lives alone in Ephesus, years after Jesus’ crucifixion. In his version of her life, Mary wants no collaboration with any of the writers of the New Testament, though they are her benefactors providing food and shelter and visiting her regularly. Colm writes that she does not agree that her child is the Son of God or that His death was worth the price He paid or that the “group of misfits he gathered around him, men who could not look a woman in the eye,” were holy disciples.
Colm depicts Mary as a ruthless judge of herself, not even staying at the foot of the cross until her Son died, fleeing to save herself from the officials. Equally as harsh is her judgment of others. “This woman whom we know from centuries of paintings and Scripture as the docile, loving, silent, long-suffering, obedient, worshipful mother of Christ becomes a tragic heroine.”
What he has portrayed of Mary is fiction. What the Bible has portrayed of Mary is truth. We cannot confuse the two. The Scripture from the beginning of Mary’s eventful life gives us hints of what is to come of her life—her real life! Let’s examine some of those truths.
Mary Was in God’s Focus
If one looks at the surface of Mary’s life, no thought would be given to what God had in mind for her. Scholars believe Mary was just a teenager when the angel Gabriel visited her with a message from the Almighty, Holy, Sovereign God. She was a peasant and lived among the lower class of Israel. She was engaged to a carpenter named Joseph and was waiting the concluding rite of marriage, the formal home-taking ceremony. She was primed to fulfill what God had in mind for her and His world!
God had faith in this young woman. She was in His focus. What about us? We definitely are in God’s focus, everyone one of us. We need to be open to Him by giving our lives to Him!
Mary Was in God’s Action Plan
It is one thing to have a focus and thought but another to have an action plan put into process. God knew what He was doing and outlined it for Mary through His angelic messenger Gabriel.
God’s action plan was that though she was a virgin, she would become pregnant through the intervention of the Holy Spirit. The baby she carried would not be merely human but also the Son of God! As Christians, we believe God indwelt Jesus as in no other human being. The theological word is incarnate.
He is ready to put His action plan for your life into gear if you are ready to move forward with His plan. Are you ready for action? Write down what you feel God’s plan is for you, and put it into action!
God Was in Mary’s Focus
Mary focused on what God wanted for her life. “I am the Lord’s servant…May it be as you have said.” Let’s dissect Mary’s response to Gabriel.
1. Mary used a personal pronoun, leaving no question for Gabriel to know she was responding. “I want God to know the person He is asking to do something is me!”
2. “I am” (present tense), indicates a now time, real time.
3. By the phrase “the Lord’s servant,” Gabriel was announcing God’s focus and plan, but God would not force her to respond. He wanted her consent, and she gave it.
Bruce Larson comments on Mary’s statement: “It is surely one of the most courageous statements ever recorded.” God will not force us to follow Him, but He wants us to say, “I am the Lord’s servant.” Is that your answer to His questions in your life? Mary was available. Are you?