Mary's Reminder: Encounter with an Angel

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A dream can catch you by surprise. It usually comes in a way you never expected. With Mary, it came in a word, or a group of words from an angel. And, among the first of them was an affirmation—"The Lord is with you!" (Lk.1:28)

Each time I read this story of the dream-delivering angel visiting Mary I sense some of the shock that she must have felt. By this point in time Mary must have been minding her own business, doing what all good Jewish girls did, getting ready to be married, getting ready to watch one of her—and every other girl's—childhood dreams come true, a wedding, when, BAM! right out of the blue an angel startles her soul with one word: "Greetings!"


Hmmm . . . "Greetings!" That sounds like the same word used in military draft letters from Uncle Sam, doesn't it? They begin with "Greetings"? Such warm salutations are often followed by sobering requirements.

From all appearances, Mary's life was moving ahead and steadily progressing, as were many teenage Jewesses' at that time. By all accounts she seems to have been raised in a fine family with God-fearing parents; her own faith evidenced that fact. And, like most young women her age, Mary was preparing to launch into life—into her life. All her plans were moving ahead probably much as she had hoped. She had been courted and won by a respected suitor (Joseph). Her father must have been delighted to have her marrying a carpenter, for his was a trade in constant demand. His work would keep him close to home and would provide for her needs and as they got older, maybe even some of their own. The plans for their marriage and their lives together were certainly all falling into place. I imagine they had already decided where they would live. The dimensions of their hopes and dreams were probably falling into quite pleasant places.

Then, God showed up.

God came in a way Mary never would have expected. And with his first word—"Greetings"—her life was forever changed. When the angel said "Greetings," in essence it was God saying "hello!" And when God said "hello" to Mary, it meant that she would have to say "goodbye" to several things. In order for her to say "hello" to God's will, Mary would soon have to say "goodbye" to her own ideas of what her future would hold.

"Goodbye" to being the master of her own destiny.

"Goodbye" to most things familiar and comfortable.

"Goodbye" to controlling the thoughts and opinions people would have of her. You see, that's what dreams do. They will greet you and, then, they will require something of you. They bring a great big "hello" into your life; but they also will require some "good-byes."

Mary certainly must have had her breath taken away when she looked up and saw an angel with a God-sized voice saying, "Greetings!" Wouldn't you? But as the shock filled her soul, did you notice what the angel said next?

"The Lord is with you!"

Ah, that must have been so good for her to hear. Wouldn't you love to have an angel speak those words over your soul—"The Lord is with you"?

What a reassurance it must have been just to hear those words, and especially at such a moment as this. A completely unexpected invasion from heaven into her life must have placed her emotions somewhere between outright fear and utter shock. But, could you imagine a more comforting sentence?

"The Lord is with you!"

Is there any truth more precious to a soul than this one? Could anything possibly be more affirming?

Unfortunately, among the Dream Killers in our lives are the false notions we have about God, about the way he sees us and even the way he feels toward us. Sometimes we "hear" other words, words in our minds, words that play in our memories, words that wear and war on our souls, words God has never said, words such as . . .

"The Lord is against you!"

"The Lord is far away from you!"

"The Lord is overlooking you!"

Have you heard those words before?

I have.

"The Lord is against you!" Have you felt this one recently? It is one of the favorites of the enemy of our souls . . . the ole' Dream Killer himself. If he can cause you to question how God feels about you, then he can begin to dismantle the dream—and your confidence and peace along with it. Unless you believe that God is for you and with you, you will struggle even to believe that the dream in your soul is a gift from him. A distorted view of God will discourage your faith.

12/7/2011 5:00:00 AM
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  • Robert Crosby
    About Robert Crosby
    Robert Crosby is an author and Professor of Practical Theology at Southeastern University. Read his interview with Bobby Gruenewald, the Founder of (the Bible App) and related articles at Christianity Today, The New Engagers and The Social Network Gospel. Robert Crosby is the author of the new book, The Teaming Church: Ministry in the Age of Collaboration (Abingdon Press).