One of the amaaaazing things about Jerusalem is that you literally can just walk down the streets and pass a dozen historical sites—and not just recent history. So yesterday, we went out to look for a few sites, but on the way there, we passed a place that claimed to be the birthplace of the virgin Mary! It was a Greek church, with lots of beautiful paintings on the main floor. The lower floors were these cool, natural caves. And then today, I was walking to the Garden of Gethsemane and we walked next door to another church dedicated to the Virgin Mary! Both times we really weren’t looking for them, but there we were! Add to that the fact that we watched a special documentary series tonight that hasn’t been released yet, Messiah: Behold the Lamb of God, (Produced by Bro. Kent Brown himself!), and the section he let us see was on the birth of Christ… I decided to read some things about the Mother of God, and I’m really glad I did!

As I re-read Luke chapter 1, I remembered a life-changing insight that my mission president gave our zone in a zone conference about faith. First, the angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias and explains to him what God is going to do in his life and he responds, “Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years” (Luke 1:18). And is heartily rebuked for his question. Gabriel responds, “behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season” (Luke 1:20). When the same angel appears to Mary and gives her almost the same news… she is still fearful and even “troubled at his saying” (Luke 1:29). She, too, asks a question of the angelic messenger which, at first glance, I thought was identical to the question Zacharias posed to the angel: “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34). In essence, it is the same question, but there is a huge difference in their attitudes, their fath. Zacharias’ question was outright incredulity. Mary’s question is completely different. She does not ask for proof of the angel’s claims—which would be proof of doubt—but rather, her question is “how shall this be”: she takes it as a given that it will happen… she is merely confused as to the method of its coming to pass. In contrast to the stubborness of Zacharias, Mary submits completely to God with a humble, submissive attitude: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38). Humility and submissive to the will of God… I am hard-pressed to think of more rare virtues that would make her so “blessed among women” (Luke 1:28). I give full credit to God for the type of women He chose to raise His Only Begotten.

I think these two virtues hold the key as to how to be highly favored of the Lord. It caused me to think about all the times that I doubt or am at least impatient with the promises of God. I do it a lot. I know what promises the gospel offers, yet I want things to happen in the way I expect in the timetable I desire…or I get FRUSTRATED. I honestly don’t think it is unrighteous of me to want to see God’s promises fulfilled, but perhaps it is precisely my zeal and overly-eager expectation to see and know with proof of their fulfillment that are the keeping me from the knowledge that the completely submissive Mary was privileged with… 

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The upper floor of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Birthplace of the Virgin Mary ™
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A depiction of Mary’s family
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A Shrine at the Church dedicated to Mary’s Burial place.
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the entryway from Gethsemane to Mary’s Church
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Where Mary is believed to be buried.

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