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Advent 2016: Christ Was Born For This: Day 25

Gabriel’s Annunciation to the Virgin Mary

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Today's Text: Luke 1:39-56

Text: Luke 1:39-56

When I was sixteen, my family moved from a large town in New York to a one-stoplight town in South Carolina. Overnight, my life transformed. I’d spent years building my reputation in New York as a good student and a leader. Suddenly in South Carolina, the only label that seemed to matter was that I was “new.” I wouldn’t be elected to any student council positions or honor societies. I wouldn’t be captain of any team sports. My entire identity—everything I’d planned to put on my resume for college—had disappeared.

Mary experienced a similar loss when an angel appeared to her in Nazareth.The first thing we learn about Mary is that she is a virgin, which makes sense. In Mary’s time, the primary indicator of a woman’s worth was her virginity. If you were a virgin, you were valuable. If you gave away your virginity, well, you forfeited everything you had to offer, and you no longer had value to your family or the world around you.

To Mary, this probably didn’t feel like oppression. To Mary, it probably felt like she had played by the rules. She had a good life, a good reputation. She was about to be married to a man from a good family, with a good job as a carpenter. Being a virgin wasn’t just a state of Mary’s anatomy or past experience; it was her whole identity.

Then God showed up. The angel of the Lord said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30). The angel then described what would happen next: she would conceive a son. She would name Him Jesus and He would be great—a King, enthroned forever. Naturally, Mary would have interpreted everything the angel said through the lens of her own identity. That’s why the first question out of her mouth was about her virginity: “How will this happen since I have not been intimate with a man?” (Luke 1:34). She feared the answer she was about to hear. Her Son would be great, but in the eyes of the world, she no longer would be.

Sometimes God strips away our worldly identities in the process of giving us heavenly ones. Mary became mother to Mercy, and womb to the Way, the Truth and the Life. That the world might shun her, shame her, or disregard her didn’t change the fact that God called her highly favored (Luke 1:28). In Christ, we’re favored too (Ephesians 1:3).

Trusting God with my identity means remembering His faithfulness throughout all generations, and being so confident in His love and favor that I am willing to lose what I call valuable in exchange for what He calls good. At sixteen, He took my obsession with leadership and replaced it with an awareness of my need for friendship. At twenty-nine, God is using my infertility to breathe new life into my relationships, friendships, and marriage. Anything is possible with God. The world may value its labels, but God does different math.

Perhaps, like Mary, you are in a season where God is taking away one identity to give you a new one. Would you dare trust him to do the math of value in your life? Would you dare to hear Him whisper your name?

Over time, as she saw the Lord working, Mary’s confusion turned to worship. “He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name,” she sang (Luke 1:49). May God also draw from us a response of praise as we wait expectantly for Him. SRT-Advent16-Instagram25s

Claire Gibson is a freelance writer and editor whose work has been featured both locally and nationally in publications including The Washington Post, and Entrepreneur Magazine. An Army kid who grew up at West Point, New York, Claire is currently growing roots in Nashville, Tennessee. She loves her husband, Patrick, and their dog, Winnie.

  • Still loving this. I keep coming back.

  • Lindsey Grudnicki

    Mary’s time with Elizabeth reminds me of how important it is for sisters in Christ to meet together, rejoice together, and walk together in their faith. Such encouragement comes from Elizabeth and Mary understands her place in God’s story fully as a result.

  • Mary had to surrender all to God, including her expectations and her identity and that is what God calls each of us to do. God calls us to be faithful where we are. Whether we move physically out of our comfort zone or are given different opportunities than perhaps what we would have chosen for ourselves, we are simply called to keep trusting in God and being faithful where we are, trying to be obedient and find ways to love and serve with the capacity that we have.

  • The readings these past two days have been impactful and has resonated in a powerful way with me. I sit here in tears as I think about how rough the last four years have been for me. After moving back to the west coast from Philadelphia , my whole identity was pretty much stripped from me – career, community, my independence, and my whole sense of self. I’m still feeling incredibly lost and so very lonely. I’m trying to look ahead, trusting in what God is doing with my life, but it is so hard. So very hard. If anyone is reading this,please pray for my heart.

    • Jenny

      Praying for you Joy. I have also moved, across the world, and felt the exact way you described of being stripped down of so much I held dear. In this process, I pray for both you and me that we would grow in dependency on Him, knowing more and more His everlasting love for us and trusting wholly in His good and perfect plans! Lifting you up my sister.

    • sheree

      Praying for you Joy. After I was married I also got uprooted frequently. I’m now able to see it in others and use those experiences for Gods glory. I see the single woman sitting by herself longing to fit in, to have friends, and be apart of something bigger than herself. A woman right where you are at needs to know you and where your hope comes from. He has prepared you for just this time and place to glorify His name. Walk confidently in His love for you, sister, your adventures begin.

  • Love these thoughts as I reflect on the past year where I’ve retired & am finding my way in a ‘new life,’ much anticipated–yet harder than I ever imagined. I am humbled to realize I serve the same God as Mary, & that there are those precious moments when He whispers my name & reveals His will as I question what comes next.

  • I’m playing catchup today after having a busy day yesterday, but today’s reading really resonates with me. A few years ago, my fiancé and I had to move from the city of Austin, Tx to a small town in east Texas, and we’ve had a really hard time adjusting, because we absolutely loved all the culture in Austin. I’m now wondering if this was God’s way of stripping our identities for something greater.

    • Karen

      Anne, we were required to move to ATX from Philadelphia by my husband’s company five years ago. My perceived loss of identity was acute, but God made it clear that He wanted us here. Five years later, can see how He is continuing to shape my identity in Him. This post was incredibly timely and gives me hope to embrace whatever door He opens next. I pray that you will be able to see how He refines you and teaches you and loves you and provides for you in your time of adjustment. Peace.

      • Anne H

        Thank you, Karen. Your story (and His word!) gives me so much hope! Blessings to you this Christmas.

  • ❣❣❣

  • “She feared the answer she was about to hear. Her son would be great, but in the eyes of the world, she no longer would be.” I don’t see that Mary is worried about her identity in this passage in Luke. Her question does not seem to imply this. And I don’t think “her confusion turned to worship over time.” The passage tells us she worshiped right there as she accepted the gift of Jesus and her calling to be His mother.

    • Maggie

      She feared the answer because she knew her son would be great, but she would not be. I think, at her core, her identity was shifting, and she was fearful of this. However, you may be right in her worshipping soonafter in response to the answer.

    • Kelley

      Jen, I totally see what you’re saying, and I actually had the same thoughts when I was reading the scripture myself. We don’t know if she had fear or was confused by this new identity God was giving her, but we do know that she most certainly was when the angel first appeared according to v. 29. But from v.34 onward it actually seems as though Mary was simply willing and fully trusted the Lord. Sometimes I think we can assume that people of scripture or others in general automatically fear or stress or are confused at the onset of something so new, or the news of something so radical. Mainly because we are all human and assume that is just a natural given response, which of course it is in our flesh. But I’ve experienced both ~ fear & confusion at what God is leading me to, but I’ve also experienced an automatic response of trust and peace in other cases. The latter being not my fleshly response at all, but solely the work of the Lord in my heart. And it seems as though that’s what Mary experienced as well doesn’t it?! As to where Zechariah was a different story! So thanks for sharing your thoughts and helping us dig deeper sister!

  • When I was reading the last part of this, I thought of this song by Sovereign Grace, “He Who is Mighty.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbo3tjoazww

    • Pam

      Thanks so much for sharing this song. It blessed my heart and led me to worship this morning along with the scripture and devotion!

    • Kristina

      Thank You Allison, beautiful song!

  • While reading the scripture verse when Mary responds to Elizabeth the song Mighty Things written by Kristie Braselton began playing in my mind. Check it out
    https://itun.es/us/ZL5i1?i=891525506

  • I had several of these Identity Stripping Years- getting married and moving to a new city in the same week, starting to have kids pretty soon after. Sometimes it seems like literally nothing (including my name) is the same as it was 10 years ago. And it’s been sweet change but very hard and I’ve fought it just about every step of the way. But through it all, I feel this thump within me. My heart beats, “You are mine, you are mine, you are mine.” Regardless of what my earthly name is, who depends on me, what I do with my days, I am his, I am his, I am his. His constant love and affection is what keeps me me, not one single other thing. I’ve had times when I’ve thrown temper tantrums to my husband about how he got to keep part of himself and I got to keep nothing and the Holy Spirit ministers to my soul that I got to keep, will always keep, the part of me that is most essential.

    As soon as I learned this lesson, my new identity started to become comfortable. I built a new tribe around me. I took hold of the things that I love about being a mom and a wife and a member of our “new” (it’s been nine years, but still!) city. Such a beautiful, painful process.

  • When you read something that resonates with you. Sigh. So grateful for community though I tend to feel I can do this on my own. But I am in that place where HE is stripping away meaningless things and revealing what’s meaningful and valuable in His eyes. Thank you for this. Blessings one and all.

  • After changing schools God has changed my identity from being well known into being more caring and focusing on good friendships/relationships and having them be God honoring!

  • Oh my word. I felt your post bring out a resonating “that’s me!”. I’m definitely in a very similar place, in the sense that the Lord is stripping away identity, yet, I know He is adding identity too. I’m definitely in the waiting–definitely in process. Needed to be reminded of this today! Thank you!

    • Mandi

      Veronica, I am in the same place as well. My identity has totally changed in the last year, God is showing me the ways I need to grow in Him and slowly bringing out a new identity. I don’t know where I am going, but God is faithful and I am trying to just follow one step at a time and be where He has me today, knowing He will show me His plan in time. Waiting is so hard some times, I will be praying for you as you wait too! Bless you!

      • Tracy

        I am right with you and Veronica … I am in the middle of a season of letting go and watching God teach me of my identity in Him. It is not an easy journey at times – saying good bye to things or people in my life that God has clearly removed. I have held on to them so tightly and now letting go and Trusting Him and His goodness for my life. He will never fail me. I am choosing today to again refocus myself and my identity on being a daughter of a King; on eternity and not on comparisons to what I see on social media or within my group of friends.

  • Caroline Ransom

    “She feared the answer she was about to hear. Her son would be great, but in the eyes of the world, she no longer would be.” What a picture of surrender and trust. Thankful the Lord used Mary to show us a gracious “letting go” of what we cling to. May we cling to the cross and not this fleeting broken world’s agenda.

  • Akua-Sodio Flanagan

    My identity wow, who am I really and truly? The boss lady at work, mom and wife at home, income maker, friend, believer, daughter to the most high. Yes what does it all mean. Seriously who am I? Let him do the math but am I brave enough, confident enough. I’m ready for a change but am I faithful enough and brave enough to accept the change and what the world may think because honestly for a lot of us we still care what other people think. It’s not about me or isn’t it? Yes of course it’s about the Lord. I’m just filled with questions and what I need is to be patient and wait on his math. I’m excited and nervous to see where he takes me. Thank you for this thought provoking post and all the responses I read from all the other ladies. You all have a very Merry Christmas

  • Thanks for the new perspective on Mary. I knew her viginity was a big deal, but I next thought about it in the context of her identity. Identity: something we all struggle with. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in earthly definitions of “who we are” and forget the most important thing about us: we are Daughters of the King. :-)

  • Kasey Summers

    Jesus is my identity. The other hats I wear are important but not compared to my most important hat! Daughter of the King! He defines who I am me! My worth comes from God alone! Why do I forget this so often!?!?

  • —> “Sometimes God strips away our worldly identities in the process of giving us heavenly ones.” <—- This right here is what it' s all about! Thank you for this reminder

    http://www.in-due-time.com

  • I have never thought about Mary in this way. How rich is this scripture? Thank you, Claire. I know my comment is about to seem melodramatic, but it’s true: this devotion today is life changing. This perspective has radically altered how I will go forth in life. Bless Mary. Bless her strength. Bless her love. Bless her intuition. Bless her faith. Bless her willingness to give up her identity and to serve God. Bless the example she sets for all of us. And God bless you, Claire. Praying for all of you in the SRT community! I love you!

  • “Trusting God with my identity means remembering His faithfulness throughout all generations, and being so confident in His love and favor that I am willing to lose what I call valuable in exchange for what He calls good….
    Perhaps, like Mary, you are in a season where God is taking away one identity to give you a new one. Would you dare trust him to do the math of value in your life? Would you dare to hear Him whisper your name?”
    Woah. WOAH!

    I didn’t even realize this is what the Lord is doing in my life right now… Amazing! How personal has this story of Mary and my Jesus been made to me this morning! I am so thankful for this study, for this post. Thank you, Claire <3 … Prayers for you this morning, too!

  • I have gone through a similar experience when I left a small church I attended for years and where everybody knew my name, and found God calling me to a big (almost mega) church. Nobody knew who I was and I wasn’t sure how this whole big church thing was going to work out. He, like you discovered, showed me my need for deep, real friendships in Christ. Also, I was also infertile (barren) for ten years. The doctor’s couldn’t explain it. The Lord has shown me his, faithfulness, mercy, love and grace. Through this journey of trying to conceive, not knowing if it will ever happen, I became pregnant and was over the moon. It was all in His time. I miscarried and so continued the heartache and my brokenness, but He chose me an He was molding me. Years later and after many more trials, I am a mother of two little boys. He knows. He hears. He answers. In His time. Claire, always turn to Him. Cry out to Him and Rejoice!! Again, REJOICE!! He is faithful and will complete the good work he has begun in you!

  • Last April I had just received my license to teach, got hired at my dream elementary school to teach kindergarten and my husband and I were finally going to be double income no kids and enjoy the good life in Colorado! Literally less than a week later we found out that I was pregnant, with no plans to have kids for at least a couple years. It was terrifying, crushing, and took a lot of processing to get to a point of acceptance. Now our little boy is due in ten days and we are overjoyed (still terrified:) to become parents! God stripped away our identity that we thought we had going for us and has called us to be parents. I’m thankful how He shapes us and takes over to change us and remind us that He is in control, and his ways are better and higher. This morning’s devotional was so fitting into our little life right now.

  • Wow I am in this season of life right now. I never dreamed at 45 I would need to believe & trust God to alter my identity. It’s hard. A brilliant and clever aspect to this portion of the story ♥️

  • I am reading LOVE DOES, by Bob Geoff right now. Anyone else read this wonderful book? Well in one of the chapters he talks about a game called bigger and better that he played when he was younger and also with his children. The whole concept is that you take something of little value, like a dime and knock on someone’s door and see what they are willing to trade with you for it. Bobs whole premise was the same as Claire’s in this piece. Are we willing to trade what we think is valuable for something better, what God has to offer. Love it. Something I should think about regularly.

    • Linda Ruth Ciglen

      Just finished this amazing book! Yes, let’s be willing to trade our “dimes” for bigger and better and keep going, like Bob’s son who started with a dime, traded up and up till he had a pick-up truck, and then gave the truck away to a church!

    • Ronda

      Yes I love it. Need to reread it … inspiring to step out of the box!

  • I loved the part about Mary asking questions based on her identity.

  • Love this! I must lose myself and my sin filled ways in order to find God. Praying that I start everyday with this attitude, and that I start 2017 with this attitude as well. My senior year of highschool…who knows where God will lead me! Also, my chorus sang this piece called the Magnificat, which translates to the verses 46-55 in Luke that we read today. It is such a beautiful piece and just wanted to share it with you all! So glad I got to sing it. It helps me to remember that God is always faithful.
    https://m.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLeZPxf_af-MVP3EsaFSzSNWNSNFCnZ2hB

    • Candy

      Sarah, thank you so much for sharing that beautiful music link! Loved “being still” while listening to it!

  • I truly can’t say how much I needed this nectar of truth this morning. I ADORE Claire’s writing and would love to see more of it! “Trusting God with my identity means remembering his faithfulness throughout all generations, and being so confident in his love and favor that I am willing to lose what I call valuable in exhange for what He calls good.” WOW. That hit my perfectionist heart hard today. Praying for heart changes today, and praising God for his good timing.

  • A battle I struggle with daily. I feel the world always has a need to label me and that I have to meet its expectations. Whether that be finding a relationship or looking for that perfect job/internship. Thanks for the reminder that God has different plans. His math is different from ours.

    • Claire

      Relationships and perfect job/internships – the two things I was thinking about exactly as I read this. As a soon-to-be college graduate, I feel as if I’m constantly surrounded by the “standards” this world has for girls my age – date someone and get married, get a good job, start your career… on and on. This was a huge encouragement for me to remember that it’s okay NOT to fulfill these worldly standards/identities, because Jesus has made it possible to rest in him as we trust in God’s perfect plan unraveling at the perfect time. Not only this, but we can worship Him amidst the confusion of the waiting, because we are HIS! Oh, the joy!

  • This was…Wow…Just wow…Great perspective

  • Mandi Garcia

    This was a very good read! Very sobering and thought provoking. I am so thankful that Mary was humble and obedient enough to listen to what God bestowed upon her. I am thankful that she did not put up a fight to protect herself. She was a willing servant and because of her obedience God was able to carry out one of the most precious things He could ever give us. The gift of eternal life.

  • churchmouse

    Yes indeed the world values its labels. Have we not seen this during the election? I am not fond of being assigned to any particular voting block by folks who don’t know me and have never met me. Neither is the church exempt from applying its own label machine. Nor are families of origin. Or, really, just anyone at all. We are all guilty of laying down labels, aren’t we? Praise God that His label of acceptance is not incumbent on my race, my gender, my education, my income, my geographic location, my religion, or my party affiliation. At the moment of my salvation prayer, He applied HIS label. It sticks hard . It is not removable and it is irrevocable. And it is the only one that matters.

  • This was just perfect. Ever have one of those moments where you think God is talking directly to you? Or how did He know this was on my heart?? That was this devotional today! Thank you!! “My would glorifies the Lord!”

  • Yes, wow. This was just wonderful, Claire. Thank you. Really felt like God was speaking to me through your words this morning. What a great point. Again and again, a reminder for me to not look through a temporal, worldly perspective, but to have an eternal, God-focused perspective instead. Just like Mary. This especially resonated with me: “The world may value its labels, but God does different math.” All of us can so easily be ensnared by the world’s and our culture’s labels and expectations, and they can be a heavy burden to bear. Instead, we need to remember it’s our Lord who we look to and what is good in His eyes is what truly matters.

  • YES! Thank you! The past 4 years has been full of dead ends, closed doors and being stripped away. God has been stripping my identity for a new one. But, I’m ready for it. I’m done with the closed doors and ready for the new. So ready for the new.

  • Raquel Rodriguez

    Oh how I needed these words. I’ve been distant from the Word, not the Lord, and for no apparent reason. I had taken the day off of work to take a loved one to a doctors appointment, only to find out this morning that she had canceled it. Just made coffee and open my SRT Advent book and… *sigh* Mary. The lord tugged at my heart with this one. I played Mary in a monologue. It was Mary sharing her memories as the mother of Jesus and her realization at the cross that it was no longer her son on the cross but her Savior. During that season of my life when the monologue took place, I had experienced months of the Lord stripping ministries and people from me to give me a new identity: student of His Word. That was many moons ago. Today, Day 25, through Mary once again I am reminded of my identity at a student of His Word. Thank you for reminding me that my identity isn’t found in my singleness, infertility, illness or ailments, my job, or even my ministry. My identity is found in His Word.

  • Claire, this was a wonderful reminder that our worldly identities are different than our heavenly identities. I have experienced infertility, and for so long I felt that I was viewed differently among my peers. It’s hard to keep believing that God has a plan for my life and to keep my focus on him, no matter what type of life changing circumstances I’m facing. Here is my experience with infertility: After two years of marriage we decide it’s time try to get pregnant. About a year later I find out within a 24 hour timeframe that I am pregnant but it’s a miscarriage. I have a D and C. We keep trying, making multiple trips to the infertility clinic (over an hour away!) and after a year and a half I become pregnant again. We don’t tell anyone, and a few weeks later go on a previously scheduled vacation. I have an extremely painful miscarriage half way across the country and miss my flight home. Then we explain to our families what has happened. They are supportive. We go back to the infertility clinic for a few more months, but it’s getting expensive and wrecking havoc on my emotions. We decide that we will be content with whatever God has in store for our lives. Then a few years later I turn 30. I decide to double check that everything in the baby making department is still working, and after one visit to the infertility clinic (where they run the most basic tests, since I hadn’t been there for so long) they discover a mass on my left ovary. It’s a malignant tumor. Four weeks and multiple tests later, I have my first surgery. Left ovary, tube, lymph nodes and appendix gone. I spend months recovering (I’m such a wimp when it comes to pain!). We go to the infertility clinic one more time to make sure the right ovary is working like it’s supposed to, and it’s doing great. There is still no medical reason that a pregnancy is not occurring. Now I am 32, married for almost 10 years to my high school sweetheart, own a dog and three cats (I love my boys!) and have no children. This is definitely not that life I planned for myself. But God sees me and my life in a different way, and sometimes when I feel sad I need a reminder about the identity I have in Christ. Thank you Claire for reminding me. Your devotional gave me hope this Christmas season.

    • Claire

      UGH. Amber. I love you so dearly for your words and your journey. I would love to talk to you face-to-face. But since I can’t… I’ll just say this. I see you. I deeply understand your anguish and grief. I take such comfort that SO MANY women in the Bible struggled with infertility. And they didn’t always handle it well. (Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth… the list goes on and on…). I know there are a lot of posts in this thread praying for miracle babies. But I’ll tell you what. YOU are the miracle. :) Please reach out to me anytime.

      • Becky

        There is hope and healing, ladies. Whatever the outcome of your endeavors to have babies, I want you to know that God is good. I learned this is the middle of many dark nights over 5 years of infertility, miscarriage and infant loss. I have five babies in heaven, but I also have intimacy with Christ that I never could have known if my path t motherhood had been easier. At the end of the desert years, there has been true healing and joy in my life, healthy babies, and a new view of the God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is a good, good Father. Even when he makes us wait, and even as we experience the brokenness of this world, He is Emmanuel, God with us.

  • Wow. Thank you so much for this. Just what I needed to hear today.

  • You have hit where I live this morning… At 53 getting older looks very different than it did at 33… or 43. My self-perception sometimes becomes my greatest struggle.

    While our youngest is still in high school, three of our four children are successfully grown up now. Grand babies ARE grand! However, OUR parents are old and sadly showing us emotional conclusions to life that aren’t pretty… while our own bodies are showing us physical ones as the occasional “cheat” takes greater tolls.

    In us and around us, sin’s consequence is much quicker and easier to see. Things hidden for years become harder to hide in people. Relationships change drastically, sometimes irreparably. Sin is spiritual yet plays out, exposes itself, and take its toll emotionally and physically.

    Regardless, with all this around us, we are very blessed and thankful to be in a balanced and healthy church. But… Every aspect of who we are, what we do, how we see life, future plans, and physical goals is at LEAST adjusted. It’s a lot. Some days it’s quite overwhelming and I find myself overly melancholy. The struggle THEN becomes face fear (acknowledge the world’s impact) and take it to The Father vs. ignore and seek solace in the temporal.

    To say one questions self identity is accurate, yet to say I always choose The Father as my refuge is not. However! He is faithful! His grace abounds and His mercy pours fresh with the morning. Abiding in Him becomes my one physical act… It’s the tangible that keeps US (my precious, precious husband and true best friend for whom I am eternally grateful and me) pressing forward as God directs us into our later years. Everything else is God. He calls, He equips, and HE directs our path, but Jesus says over and over to “abide in Him”, and to “seek first the kingdom”. To do this as honestly open before my God as is possible for ME, is my heart’s desire.

    SRT, you guys are truly a blessing to me and a huge tool in my “Abiding” Tackle Box. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all you do… And Merry Christmas to y’all!

    God’s greatest blessings are so very often found in the struggle and in the mundane.

    • Nancy

      This post and your reply – wow – hits the nail on the head for where I have been struggling. Thank you for your post.

  • Today’s devotional brought tears to my eyes. This past spring, my identity was stripped from me and became someone I myself didn’t even know or understand. I went from being the one everyone else called/leaned on to being bed-ridden, unable to care for my own four small children and having to move in with someone because I just couldn’t do it on my own. In those dark, dark stormy weeks, I sobbbed for hours on end because I didn’t understand what God could possibly be doing in my life. It was(still is) so hard to trust him when I barely knew he still loved me….Yet miraculously I found comfort and strength in his Word. Nine months later, I am slowly recovering from what my doctors are calling a very small nervous breakdown. God is giving me a new identity and finally I realize I can trust in Him completely. I am not all the way better and this may take years, but one thing is certain, I can look back already and see that it has been God who was carrying me this whole time. He never left me, he was just giving me a new identity. This new awareness has changed me PROFOUNDLY and now I too can say with Mary, “He who is mighty has done great things for me and holy is his name.”

    • Ellen

      Oh, Diane, you are not alone. When we have nothing to offer Him in our utter brokenness, we are able to experience His compassionate love in a deeper way. The Lord went with me into the psych ward, He preserved my life, and “He restores my soul”. I will forever praise His name with you!

  • Annie Martin

    Thank you for reminding me to keep an eternal, heavenly perspective. It’s so easy to allow myself to be bombarded by what the world tells me is important that I forget what is truly important…magnifying our Lord

  • So often I get distracted by my self-made identity; by all the hats I wear or strive to wear in hopes that the world will see me as valuable. But my identity and yours is not defined by these hats that we force ourselves to call valuable: mother, sister, wife, daughter, teacher, friend, doctor, lawyer, music leader, good cook, giver, pretty, thin, athletic, funny, witty, artistic, creative, etc., or whatever else we strive for to give us worth. If only I could remember that I am valuable simply because I am His. That while I was His enemy, He chose to make me His daughter. That in a great exchange He took my sinfulness and gave me Jesus’ righteousness to wear as my everyday clothes. Ah, that I would remember this, my true identity, and from this would flow my life and my worship…

  • Hailey T.

    I’ve lived most of my professional life with blinders on. Walking towards a goal I made without letting any outside source give me light or criticism. When I graduated with my masters I soon realized my dreams of playing in a Symphony and being the breadwinner of my home were not going to come true.

    My castle i built for myself, brick by brick, crumbled into a humbleness for God. It formed into a thirst for truth and is still morphing into a great need for Jesus before I seek other’s approval.

    I pray this often, I pray this for all of us. “Do not be anxious, but in every situation, with prayer and petition and with thanksgiving, present your concerns to God. And his grace which transcends all understanding will calm your heart and your mind.”

    I pray to soon sing a song like Mary, to leap for joy like John, and to listen in expectant silence like Zechariah and Elizabeth.

    • Candy

      Dear Hailey, YES thank you so much for your prayer for all of us. I need to repeat that each day to remind me to – check with God first before plowing forward with my own plans!! Merry Christmas!

  • I was thinking this morning vs 37 says
    “For the word of God will never fail. ” Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.”
    ‭‭Luke‬ ‭1:37-38‬ ‭NLT‬‬
    Just like Mary, the Holy Spirit has come upon us and God is faithful and His Word never fails. His Spirit is in us and we have the privilege of delivering Him to everyone we meet and to our families. All He asks of us is to be faithful and He does the rest. Mary didn’t do anything. She was just available and submitted herself to whatever God did in her. Can I just be willing today??why would that be so hard when it is something so wonderful and could bring peace to my world around me? We are no different than Mary. God is still seeking those who are willing to deliver hope and peace and all that He is to those around us. He is a rewarded to those who see Him with all our hearts!

  • LesleyRyden

    Oh how I have loved these quiet, in-between mornings since my 4 children have gotten out of school but before the rush of hosting my husband’s family for Christmas… When they arrive it seems to me that my identity becomes cook, maid, waitress, and party planner. I pray that I can continue to serve them graciously but year after year I feel taken advantage of and invisible in my own home. Jesus, let me anchor deeply in you, knowing that you see me and when I serve selflessly I reflect your heart… even to the ungrateful. http://www.awordthatmatters.com

    • SusieP

      Leslie – your words touched me this morning and I feel led to tell you that, although it seems your efforts go unnoticed and undervalued, you are sowing seeds of joy. You are making beautiful, lasting, wonderful memories for your family that will be cherished and remembered for many years to come. Some day you will be the joyful recipient of their fond recollections! I’m lifting you in pray and asking that the knowledge that you are serving your Maker by patiently and lovingly serving your family give you peace, a quiet joy, and an extra measure of patience this blessed season. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    • Lana

      I might not be a guest in your home, but I just want to tell you that I feel grateful for you, Leslie. Now that I’m a bit older, I look back at all my mom did during the holidays. As a child, I couldn’t value it like I do now. But today, my depth of gratitude runs so deep for all the wonderful memories she made. Please hang in there, sweet sister. Remember that you are loved. And you are NOT invisible to God. Let him speak to you. If you can find peace in him, it’s in my experience that he’ll even try to make you laugh. He loves to see you laugh. Don’t forget that!

      In my last relationship, I often felt invisible too. One day when I was in Express, I saw these really cute rings and every day I would wear one as a reminder of God’s love for me. As a reminder of his promise and the care he takes in my life. Whenever I felt sad, lonely, and unloved, I would bring my attention to the ring on my finger. It honestly really helped get me through the tough times. Hope it helps you too!

  • Shelby Fox

    Claire- thank you for sharing your story with us. I am also 29 and struggle with Infertility. I am currently pregnant and going in today for a scheduled C-Section where I get to meet our baby girl that we have prayed so long for. This morning, know you have been prayed for as the God of peace wraps his loving arms around you. You are not alone. Keep your head up and know anything is possible with HIM.

    • Ashley

      Praying for you Shelby! I pray over the doctor’s hands as he/she brings your new baby to the world and into your arms. What a blessing and show of God’s faithful love.

  • Claire- thank you for this beautiful devotional. I, too, am 29 and have struggled with infertility. God has worked miracles and I am currently pregnant with my first child, but I know that the holidays can be such a hard time. But God is obviously working in you and through you. You are in my prayers this morning. As the angel said to Mary “nothing will be impossible with God”. This morning I thank God for everything He has already done in your life and boldly pray that He gives you a child. And I thank Him that our identity is in Him and not our earthly status.

  • raschknits

    I have a new identity that is precisely nine days old; after 13 years of being a stay-at-home-mom, I’m back to working full-time. This has been a change of a magnitude that I never expected as our family navigates this new situation. I am struggling with this new season and trusting that God has placed something before me for a purpose greater than what I can see. Thank you, Lord, for the example of Mary.

  • I am going off topic here, but wanted to say that as soon as I saw today’s scripture, I smiled. This is my favorite part of the Advent story, and always has been. The thought of young Mary spending a trimester with old Elizabeth — each of them pregnant with their first baby — has always made me happy. The joy they must have had in each other’s company, the baby clothes they made together, the opportunity to share their wonderment of God’s plan and goodness every day together…what a gift! I think of the love between John and Jesus, feeling contentment and joy in the presence of each other, before either of them were born. What a happy, happy time in the midst of uncertainty. God’s promise and blessings made real to two women who shared an incredible bond. Just think about it! Have a blessed, joy-filled day!

  • I pray that I will remember to grasp my heavenly identity over my worldly identity. Mary showed such grace, although I’m sure there were hard days, and I am challenged by her beautiful song to the Lord.

  • Christina

    “Sometimes God strips away our worldly identities in the process of giving us heavenly ones. . . . Trusting God with my identity means remembering His faithfulness throughout all generations, and being so confident in His love and favor that I am willing to lose what I call valuable in exchange for what He calls good.”

    I hate to admit it, but I’ve been having my own little personal pity party, complete with black pointy hats, black candles, “woe is me” banners, and lots of unbidden tears. And it has been going on for months. I turned 40 in July (ouch!), and my oldest child turned 10 a couple of weeks ago (double ouch!) Several things that don’t identify me have been changing in our church and homeschool life, and while all these things are good, I’ve kind of sort of become a frustrated, doubting Zechariah. I’ve been going through the motions of my life while withdrawing from the more public sphere of my responsibilities. Let me tell you, going through the motions without any heart for God’s math doesn’t add up!

    I’ve been particularly concerned about my identity. I know my husband, friends, and family love me, but I’ve been giving in to the feeling that my life doesn’t seem to matter much. I’ve really had no impact on the world around me. Couldn’t Mary have felt the same? She was the “mere” transporter for the King of the world, but what did she herself contribute to the people around her? In God’s math, as Claire says above, her contribution was her transportation of the King. Wow! Just… thank you, Father! Continue to remind me that my life is not about me or my reputation or what I do, but that it is about You, Your reputation, what YOU do! Thank you for that! Thank you that I don’t have to meet the expectations of various people who may think that I need to be doing “x” or “y.” I have only to be still and obedient to Your calling on my life. I don’t have to look like an activist in the eyes of the world. I have only to look like Your child, obeying Your instruction for my life (which includes Your overarching instruction for the life of every believer). Be through me what will bring You most glory and will make Your reputation great to the most people. In Jesus’ Name.

    • clb

      Thank you for sharing. I relate so well to what you have written as I often ask what impact or purpose my life has. I’m learning that I just have to trust God with all of that and keep walking in a manner worthy of Him and not in a state of “woe is me”. Prayers that you will just be still and rest in Jesus.

    • raschknits

      Pass one of those pointy black hats my way; I’ll bring my own loser kazoo. :) You are so not alone, and I’m praying your prayer for myself, word for word. xo

    • Abbie

      Amen!
      Oh Christina, you matter, your life matters, your life matters SO much. You bring a beauty and unique reflection of God’s glory to this world that no one else can bring. And the way in which your life shows that beauty will look different from everyone else’s reflection.
      It is so easy to become entangled in ‘the world’s’ and everyone else’s expectations of us… and even our own expectations of ourselves. And at times that can be crippling and soul-destroying. BUT our Heavenly Father doesn’t do labels, He hates labels, and He doesn’t heap crippling expectations on us. He says “you are enough, you are you and that is why I love you. Your heart is what matters to me the most, not your label. I sent my Son so that your heart might be free of obligation, free of worldy expectations, free to be in eternal love and communion with me. I love you for who you are, not what you do.”
      It is ok to go through times of reviewing our identity, times of being unsure of all manner of things. “There is a time for everything”, life has seasons but God’s primary message throughout all of our times is that you are loved, completely and eternally and perfectly and fiercely yet so tenderly. You are His child and He is so proud of your humility and your yearning to glorify Him in your life. Though your life may seem “small” Christina, we have a God who delights in the small things; who takes the everyday and uses it so magnificently to bring his Kingdom on earth, in tiny but glorious ways all of the time, every day. And He is using you so beautifully in your precious life Christina, even if the rest of the world doesn’t always notice or appreciate it. You are treasured, deeply, and your life matters always even in the seasons of the small and everyday xx (sorry for the essay and probable typo’s!!)

      • Christina

        Thank you, Abbie, for this reminder: “a God who delights in the small things” and that each life is precious, “even if the rest of the world doesn’t always notice or appreciate it.” And in the midst of reading/responding to your comment, my precious four year old rainbow baby came in and climbed on my lap. I pray the Lord reminds us all of the specific difference He has planned for us to make, no matter how small. Thank you for speaking truth today, Abbie!

    • Kisha

      Oh thank you for reminding me of this! I’m struggling right now because I don’t make “certain people” happy with the choices I make for my life. I needed to hear this this morning!

  • Erica Thesing

    ” Her Son would be great, but in the eyes of the world, she no longer would be.

    Sometimes God strips away our worldly identities in the process of giving us heavenly ones. Mary became mother to Mercy, and womb to the Way, the Truth and the Life. That the world might shun her, shame her, or disregard her didn’t change the fact that God called her highly favored (Luke 1:28). In Christ, we’re favored too (Ephesians 1:3).”

    This passage really struck a chord within my heart this morning.
    My husband and I were taken by surprised when our third child, a baby boy was born with a rare condition called arthrogryposis multiplex congenita this past April. A sporadic condition that causes severe joint contractures throughout his body. He did not move his legs nor his arms in utero. Right now, he lays between us, asleep and will need turned in just a few.

    Our life has been turned upside down since his arrival but God’s favor has proven. We moved away from home, away from our former identities built well within a community we loved to foreign territory called by God himself. We continue to strengthen our littlest physically as he strengthens us spiritually. Our older have loved their baby brother to the fullest and in return he has lovingly drawn their hearts closer to Father God.

    Transition is not easy, we’re grateful for those (like Mary and Joseph) who have walked before us righteously to light the steps in a heart of selfless gratitude.

    • Erica Thesing

      *older two children, a girl (eight years old) & a boy (six years old).

    • Terry

      Erica, after looking up this rare condition, I can not begin to understand the depth of pain and sadness you and your husband must feel over your precious son. I am praying for courage, stamina and community support for you and your family. I don’t know where you live but my husband and I have lived in three countries

      • Terry

        …and know the feeling of isolation. I also pray God will give you individuals who will be like family to you.

        • Erica Thesing

          Thank you Terry for your beloved prayers, it blessed my heart this morning to read your reply. May God shine upon you during this sacred season.:-)

    • CM

      Praying for you this morning, Erica, in this new phase of your life. I actually know a very special family with a little boy (now 7 and in school and thriving) with the same condition. Praying God’s peace for your family.

      • Erica Thesing

        Thank you CM, we’re believing Hebrews 11:1.:-) May God bless you as you’ve shown such kindness and encouragement.:-)

  • I’ve never thought of Mary in quite this way and your perspective really spoke to my heart this morning as I, too, am facing a new definition of life ahead. Thank you for helping me find comfort.

  • Dear Claire, I know the pain of infertility and have walked through it and am still walking through it. Thank you for the reading today. Realizing that value that Vod has given to our lives is immeasurably comforting. When I was going through a low-point, the Lord showed me Jeremiah 29:4-7. Basically, He was telling me that His plan was not for me to sit in sorrow but to serve Him and seek the welfare of those around me. It’s hard to be stuck in despair when you’re out serving the Lord. I’m not saying that you’re not doing this, but what I am saying is thank you for serving the SRT community!

  • Dear sisters. I did comment but it seems it needs proofing. .lol..
    Just to say..Merry Christmas and sending each and every one if you hugs wrapped in love and gratitude for you…
    Be Blessed…xxx

  • SBTaunton

    “Anything is possible with God. The world may value its labels, but God does different math. ” loved this. It’s so hard not to hold onto worldly standards but those don’t matter I need to embrace what God is able to do, His will always turns out better than I could imagine!

  • It has been a difficult few weeks for my husband and I as he was made redundant and I currently am a full time student. We have been praying a lot (and worrying a lot!) about finding a new job and paying for Christmas. Things are looking up at the moment and people have been very generous, but until this point I have been so focused on my husband finding work and what the new year would bring that I had not considered how God could use this season of unemployment and uncertainty in our lives and in those around us. I am prompted by this message today to listen to God’s voice, and what he might be teaching us through this experience, and how He can use us because of this experience.

  • Alexis Maycock

    He took Mary’s insecurity and made her secure. And so He does this with all of us. Shifting us as we move through this life. Showing us we have nothing to fear during the shift when our identities are wrapped up in Him.

  • I was blessed this summer to spend some time with my brother and his family on a trip back home…I remember the number of suitcases they took to my one…
    My sister in law, each day, would look amazing, every day a new outfit, shoes a bag to match and coiffered hair…I smiled each day…my thinking was this was the identity she wanted people back home to see…she had made it…she had arrived! I guess you cannot travel from your father/motherland that is struggling to another coutry to better yourself and return the same, you have to be seen to have ‘ done well’ for yourself, and that is what I believe was my SIL s thinking…
    My brother actually commented on the way I was dressing…my response was, that I was not there to impress nor to prove anything to anyone…this was me.
    Sometimes, and, what truth Clare, we get caught up in worldly identities that don’t suit or fit us well, let alone are our true identities…

    Thank you Lord for rerouting us when we get stuck in an idenity that does us no favours, thank you Lord God, that you the author of who we are, that in your creating of us you know who we truly are…that it is not in the worldly things that we accumulate, or the number of degrees we collect, or even in the fact tbat we are mother, sister, friend…but that the TRUTH is…. our identities are found in You… Thank you Lord God.
    Praising you Lord God for the reminder of this truh this morning, and praying Lord that I trust you to do the math of value in my life…knowing you have akways had my best at heart..Thank you Lord God..in the name of the one who brings Hope, Jesus Christ, Amen.

    Praying peace of heart, good cheer and love over you all my Sisters as the pressures as Christmas approaches…blessings xxx

  • Today’s post summarizes my 2016. Struggling to recover from burnout for years, unable to be all things to all people any longer, I had to learn to receive love when I felt least deserving or lovable. It feels like a really long season, but now I start to see what God is working out in me. He frees me from my old identity and I take root in a new one in Him. A humbling experience! And now, this advent, new doors are opening and I feel more confident than I ever have before.
    I don’t know why I share now. It’s gratitude I think. And maybe one of you will be encouraged. ❤

  • Sarah Trammell

    Wow. So amazing how God works. I needed to read this so so badly❤️

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