#178 "He Before Me Except After Nothing"
December 7, 2010
"I have set the Lord always before me." (Psalm 16:8a)
Because it's the Season, I take a lot of walks through the Gospel of Luke. This time I happened to be strolling by after the shepherds were gone. They took their leave to go tell it on the mountain. The tourists were settling themselves at the "No Room Inn". Night was upon her, and I happened to catch Mary as she ventured outdoors, babe in arms, on this mild Bethlehem night.
I watched her slowly remove the cloths from her new son's little body so carefully, as if she thought He might break. Like any new mother, I saw her smile as she counted His tiny fingers and toes. I watched her brush the back of her hand against His warm, soft skin. She looked at His eyes. She had never seen such dark eyes before. I heard her whisper, "Beautiful"...as tears gently fell from her own. I thought that I might be doing something wrong...trespassing on this very private moment between mother and son...but I couldn't stop looking...couldn't stop thinking.
Nothing would ever be the same for this young girl. By allowing God to interrupt her life, it would be forever changed. When she uttered the words, "Be it unto me according to Thy word", natural met supernatural; humanity collided with divine, and life as she knew it would be transformed for the purposes of God. From that moment forward, she set the Lord always before her.
I had always read the verse in Psalm 16:8a to mean the Lord was always before me in the sense that He walked before me. He was ahead of me and I would always follow. If I followed, while He was ahead, I would always be safe. I guess it depends on where you put the emphasis on the words. Could it be ... "I have set the LORD (emphasis) always before ME (emphasis)?
Motherhood is sacrificial. From the first second that we hold our children in our arms, it becomes about THEM...not us. ME fades away. It was the same for Mary. Her beautiful baby boy would become the focus of her life, for the rest of her life. She would literally set the LORD always before herself. She had already sacrificed so much. All her dreams of a perfect wedding to Joseph had to be put down. Everyone knew that she had become pregnant out of wedlock. And when the fullness of time arrived, she had to give birth in Bethlehem, Joseph's ancestral home. Oh, how she had wanted her own mother to be there!
The shepherds had said some very strange things to Mary and Joseph. All of the words that she had heard about this child were almost unbelievable. I saw her look up into the starlit sky and I heard her soft voice say, "O Mighty One, could it be that this is Your Son?" I wanted to go to her and say, "Oh, sweet girl...those little hands you are holding are the very hands that put those stars in that night sky. His cries...His voice...the very same one that spoke the world into being. His sweet smelling breath is the very breath of God." She seemed confused and full of joy, all at the same time. She treasured up everything that had been said, and everything that had happened thus far, and pondered it all in her heart.
On this night, as I watched, Simeon had not even told her yet that he could die because he had finally seen the Lord's Christ. Prophetess Anna hadn't told her yet that a sword would pierce her soul. She didn't know that those who paid her son homage now would turn on Him one day, and put nails into the very same hands and feet that she marveled over on this Bethlehem night. Her joy at His birth would one day turn to excruciating sorrow as she would watch His death. No mother should ever have to watch her child die before her. But she would. And all of her life, she would set Her Son, His Son, always before her.
I watched her wrap Him up to keep Him warm in the night air. I watched her kiss His cheek so tenderly. I watched her go back inside. But I couldn't move. I was glued to my hiding spot, because I couldn't stop thinking about what watching this exchange between mother and Son had taught me.
Mary taught me that I must always put her Son, my Lord, always before me, before my purposes, and before my plans. I was reminded that every single, solitary time that God has interrupted my life it has ALWAYS turned out for good. The Lord's Christ has NEVER, no, not EVER, let me down. Whatever the interruption of my plans for His has entailed, it has been for His kingdom purposes, and that, friend, is always good.
We've had a tough year at the Schultz's. We've dealt with job loss, illness, relationship issues, tough decisions, and most recently, three deaths in six week's time. And that's just the tip of our iceberg. But I can honestly say that I am truly content. I am truly filled with joy. True joy runs deep. I have been witness to seeing what putting the Lord and His purposes always before me can do. Not a day goes by that we don't see the fruit of His work in our lives. Loss has turned to great eternal gain. Beauty has risen from ashes and rubble. Death has turned into abundant living.
Your calling will never be like Mary's. You will never be asked to carry the Son of God in your womb. Hallelujah...He is the One and Only! But you never know what He will call you to do, to endure, to suffer, or to give up for Him. Put yourself aside and make it all about Him, His purposes and His plans. Accept the lot that He has assigned, because it is secure. Eventually, one day, the boundary lines will fall for you in pleasant places. I guarantee you...it's a fact...you will be filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory, as you are witness to His perfect plans working perfectly in your life!
On that night, I watched Mary carry the Lord's Christ inside to keep Him warm and protect Him. There would come a day when she would no longer be able to keep Him safe, but instead He would carry a wooden cross down the Via Delarosa for her sins and our sins. Three days later He would win the victory over death, hell and the grave and every single, solitary thing that Mary went through would be worth it. She always put her Son before her. I want to put her Son before me in everything. Oh, Lord, give me that kind of heart! May it be done to me according to Thy word. No matter what that may prove to be. "I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken." (Psalm 16:8)
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