Tuesday, December 30, 2008

WALKING BUDDIES: Part 25 - Breath of Heaven - December 27, 2008

The Lord himself will give you a sign:
The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son…
Isaiah 7:14

The Guttmacher Institute reports that in 2002 there were 746,820 pregnancies and 425,493 births in the United States—among women aged 15-19. More than 18,000 women in this age group become pregnant every year—in Indiana.

It is a scary proposition to bring a child into the world, no matter what your age. I was twenty-seven when my newborn babe Matthew was placed in my arms. I was ready to be a mom; I was in awe of the miracle taking place; I was head over heals in love with my baby boy—and I was scared silly!

In Breath of Heaven, vocalist Amy Grant captures what may have been Mary’s feelings when carrying the Child of God: “I am waiting in a silent prayer. I am frightened by the load I bear.” The load she refers to here is more than the weight of the growing child or the usual trepidations of an expectant parent. Mary was chosen to bear the spirit-breathed Son of God.

In Grant’s song, Mary prays: “Breath of heaven, hold me together, be forever near me…lighten my darkness, pour over me your holiness, for you are holy.” What was in frightened Mary’s heart as she waited in “silent prayer”?

By becoming pregnant out of wedlock, Mary disgraced her family, her betrothed, and her God, and according to custom, did not deserve to live. With a nod of his head, Joseph could have had Mary stoned to death. Interesting, isn’t it that Jesus, who was destined to die himself, was born to a woman who should have been put to death.

Fortunately, Mary had a good support system: God the Father, who deemed that she would bear his son; the angel Gabriel, who informed her of God’s plan; Joseph, a godly fiancĂ©; her cousin Elizabeth, who also became pregnant under suspicious circumstances; and the Breath of Heaven—the Holy Spirit.

Jesus’ parents had to grow up fast, their faith and integrity challenged by his conception, their maturity honed over nine stressful months, culminating in a grueling trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem, just as Mary was due to deliver. This young girl gave birth in a drafty stable, far from home and family.

While Mary’s circumstances occurred in the first century, many young women today find themselves in similar straights, having disappointed family, facing rejection, and dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. The Breath of Heaven gives life to their little ones, each created in the image of God. But life is a struggle, just as it was for Mary, Joseph and Jesus.

As you contemplate the birth of Jesus, pray for the little ones in our community who are God-breathed miracles deserving of love and protection. May we reach out to these little ones and their families as an act of worship—as we “worship Christ, the newborn King.”

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