Mary said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. For He hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden…For He that is mighty hath done to me great things, and holy is his name.” Luke 1:46-49
These verses, part of Mary’s prayer when she had the baby Jesus in her belly, are precious to me. I prayed them during a time when I was deeply troubled, and ever since, they have been not just Mary’s words, but my words.
Mary praised God.
I love this about her. Instead of dwelling on the negative things she was surely experiencing during her “illegitimate” pregnancy, she saw only the great things God was doing in her life. It amazed and humbled her.
I want to be like that. Today I want to praise God specifically for two prayers he has answered recently.
The first: I’ve been praying for someone to help with the women’s Bible studies at our local jail. I mentioned this need as a prayer request several times at my church, but never pursued it beyond that.
A couple of weeks ago, Rachael, an acquaintance of mine, messaged me. “Ever since you posted about praying for the ladies up at the jail that you have Bible study with, I’ve felt a tug on my heart and haven’t been able to let it go.”
She was referring to a general request I’d posted on Facebook, asking for prayer for the ladies at the jail.
“I have no idea how all that works there,” she wrote, “but I just can’t seem to shake it and feel like God is perhaps asking me if that is something I’d be willing to do. Which to be honest, freaks me out. I’m trying to be obedient to the Lord by simply asking you about it. My heart goes out to these ladies in such a way that I’ve never felt before.”
Wow, I thought when I read her message. This is God working. He really cares about those ladies. Maybe somehow I’d had the idea that I was making this ministry happen, and really, turns out, it’s been God’s deal all along.
I praise Him.
The second answered prayer I want to praise Him for happened to my brother in law, Jeff.
Recently, on a cold winter day, his three little daughters stayed at our place while their mom was gone. Jeff came by to pick them up after work. He was near the village of Tony, about 10 miles from our place, and already running late, when the gas light went on. I’ll make it, he thought.
But later, pulling out of our place with 15 miles still to drive, he started to worry a little. So cold out. And he had the girls.
“Pray we have enough gas to make it home,” he told them.
So they did. As little girls do, taking it for granted that of course God would answer.
They arrived home without trouble, and he pulled right up to their gas tank to fill the car. But when he stuck the nozzle in–glug, glug, glug. Three glugs, and gas was running out the top. The car was full.
Impossible. It took time to get gas from this tank–it was gravity-pulled. And this had been only seconds, anyway. Not enough time to fill any car from any tank.
“What does the gas gauge say?” he asked his oldest, MacKenzie.
“Oh, it’s close to full,” she said.
He looked himself, and the gauge was full up.
It couldn’t be a glitch in the gas gauge. He’d driven the car four hundred miles yesterday and knew it was empty. And there was no way anyone could have filled it in the twenty-five miles between Tony and home.
The only explanation: God.
He could have gotten them home easily enough without filling the tank.
“I think it was to show me it was really Him,” Jeff said. “I’m usually pretty skeptical about stories like that.”
He’d had a conversation only recently with a man who didn’t believe in God. “The only reason you do,” he told Jeff, “is because you were brought up that way.”
And Jeff had wondered if he was right. Most of us do, at some time or another.
My students just finished their Christmas program, and one line of it, written by Christine Trevino, keeps running through my mind:
“We have a decision to stop and worship or remain unchanged.”
Two thousand years ago rugged shepherds stopped, gathered around a manger, and worshiped.
Emmanuel. God with us in the little things, out of the way places, unexpected moments.
This Christmas, I also stop and worship.