Tuesday, December 8 —by Denise Hill

“You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High…’How will this be,’ Mary asked…” (Luke 1:31-2; 34 NIV)

(When you have a moment, read Luke 1:26-56)

When did Mary conceive?

I found myself asking this question over and over again while reading this text. Luke never mentions it. The angel Gabriel tells Mary that she would conceive, and how it would happen, but I didn’t see any mention of when.
Isn’t that the question we often struggle with — of ‘when will it happen?’ We heard God say ‘it’ would happen — whatever ‘it’ may be for us — but absent from what we would normally perceive as manifestation, we find ourselves wandering…and wondering in the abyss of ‘when?’

I realized that maybe ‘when’ is not wrapped up in days or dates —  the ‘when’ is wrapped up in the ‘how.’  ‘How’ here is more than a question of shock, or surprise — the question of how is a moment in the life of the mind of Mary. When Mary asked the angel how, it was her way of saying she was willing to be taught  —  of writing her own invitation and response card to a moment of profound learning. How does God bring the wonderful to pass?
Maybe, all this time, we’ve been asking the wrong question. Maybe we ought to be asking God ‘how’ instead of ‘when.’

Have you ever asked God how?

Have we stilled ourselves enough, and humbled ourselves enough, to allow the purposes & promises of God to educate us?

It may be the case that if we linger here in the surrender & curiosity of ‘how’, we’d find an education waiting to be gleaned & meaning waiting to grow us.

This is what Mary teaches us. The genius of this moment is that Mary had the mind to be open to perceive & experience the workings of the mind of God.  She had the presence of mind to let the moment wash over her and mold her into something newer, deeper, and wiser.

Gabriel told her how it would happen:
The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” (Luke 1:35 NIV)

Without a definite ‘when’ moment, we are left to imagine that the movement of Spirit unfolded in subsequent moments in her life — her response, her rising, her going, her embracing, her listening, her receiving, her singing (and I can only imagine, her dancing), and her remaining in the house of her expecting cousin, her returning home. It was wrapped in the unfolding of each passing moment.

Have you considered the possibility each moment has in store for you?  Have you been in the process of conception and not known it? That conversation you had last week, or the movie you watched the other day– is that another piece to the puzzle — another moment that leads to the miraculous and seemingly-sudden ‘it-has-arrived’? Consider this past week, or this past year, or go back as far in your life as you’d like — what has life been quietly conspiring that you conceive?

My sister…my brother — God has spoken. How shall these things be…for you?  Here’s to presence and joy in all your moments of conception.  Let God enfold you with God’s light.

Prayer: Loving God, we are thankful for your faithfulness to us; we are thankful for your patience with us. Forgive us for all the ways in which we miss You & miss Your ‘how’ unfolding in our every moment. Your love for us is imbued with Your dreams, Your purposes, & Your gifts for our lives that are all right here, waiting to bloom. Maybe that love requires that we simply — & yet profoundly — lean into Your how. Letting go of our way– or tradition’s way, or society’s way — of “how shall these things be”. 

Grant us, oh God, the courage to lean into You. Grant us the courage to let You be the ground beneath our feet. Grant us the courage to trust You.