I am a servant By Andrea Leigh Capuyan
“I am a servant of the Lord,” an Invitation to Transformation
“I am a servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Mary’s words capture the longing of a steward’s heart – an invitation to transformation. In embracing an uncertain path, Mary embarks on the most important work of a steward, which is the journey inward to our heart, soul and mind. A journey toward renewal. The fullness of God’s likeness birthed in us. The HOPE which is promised to Eve in the Garden is now fulfilled and triumphant because of the Son born to Mary.
The Gospel rests on the Incarnation of God. God being both fully divine and fully human in the person of Jesus Christ. God did not simply choose to become a human being through a snap of the finger. Rather, God chose to cloth Himself in humanity through the womb. He was conceived and implanted in Mary where His flesh and spirit were ‘knit together’. God allowed her to bear His Incarnate Son, and in doing so, she foreshadows what He wants to do in all His people. Mary offers us a rich illustration of what God intends to consummate in His Bride; He desires to fully indwell us.
Ultimately being entrusted with the welfare of another person is the most important calling for a steward. For this work is more than managing an organization or expanding a ministry, it requires protecting and cultivating a fellow image-bearer of God, the very heart of His Kingdom.
The role of parent unlike any other role is a pivotal and profound role for stewards. Pregnancy is a simple yet visceral picture of surrendering one’s body for the sake of another. It is where the reality of bearing one another and carrying one another becomes real. And it is a unique role for a woman – through pregnancy another human being inhabits her. Her body becomes the very soil where life begins to flourish. The mother’s body is surrendered to the will of the child growing within. Everything changes. Her body will never look the same again. Her appetite changes. Her rest is interrupted. If the mother does not consider the best interest of her child even in utero, then the child will likely experience harmful evenly deadly results.
Even one’s identity is transformed from woman to mother. From the moment of conception a mother is acutely aware she is given a gift to protect and to nurture, she is aware how big an impact she can have yet how little control is in her hands. It is the most moving lesson for a steward; children are not possession and cannot be owned, yet a parent’s actions can significantly impact and alter the course of a child’s life. It is a scary prospect. It is an experience unlike few others which bring stewards to their knees.
The surrender of will, the surrender of body demonstrates the humility required of a steward. Mary’s response is not acquiescence, rather she displays welcomed acceptance. Pregnancy is a transforming process, and it is long and painful. And so it can be for us as the Spirit of Christ indwelling us changes and shapes us into new creation. Thoughts and interests are changed. Emotions are altered. In pregnancy, the very biochemical nature of a woman is forever different because of the child (Saunders). Her body will carry a piece of the child’s DNA forever.
God does the same for us. He changes every essence of our being – we become part of Jesus’ bloodline. Her body is scarred. Really, the forming of a child is an internal and hidden process. So it is at times with God’s work. Much of His work in the human heart is an internal and hidden work. Even while hidden, He is bearing fruit. And at the culmination of this season of gestation, to give birth requires the breaking of both water and flesh. It is messy.
Mary understands how hard and painful it is when God is reproducing His life in us. She knows perseverance and endurance. She is a tender model of nurturing the life of Christ. This picture of surrender is joyful and terrifying and challenging. How fascinating by entering a woman’s womb, God claimed and redeemed every work of man for His glory.
Mary’s story teaches God’s call for a steward does not promise safety nor is it free from scandal. During his ministry, Jesus says He will be a stumbling block. He confounds even the most devote followers. This scandalous and challenging call began at the very moment of his conception, both his reputation and Mary’s reputation are striped of pride or ambition.
Jesus is born into the arms of one who knows what it means to be meek and lowly of spirit. Mary could not know everything God planned for her or her Son. And God asks everything of both His Son and also Mary. God calls both of these stewards to ultimate sacrifice. Mary experiences grief and heartbreak as her Son dies for others. Unlike Abraham, there was no ram to rescue her Son from the altar. This mother watches her child be slaughtered.
It is important not to dismiss the importance one person’s impact on another. When we invite God to birth life in us only then can we give life to others. A steward’s spiritual transformation intends the spiritual transformation of others. To believe Christ is fully human as well as fully divine acknowledges that much of Jesus’ spiritual growth and care was influenced and molded by Mary and Joseph. Mary nurtured the heart of a Son who did not acquiesce but accepted the call to sacrificial love. Jesus grows and flourishes under the care of Mary because Mary obediently allows God to flourish within her. And the flourishing of Mary’s Son leads to the flourishing of us all.
Jesus is the ultimate example of how as God’s image-bearers we can create goodness, meaning and beauty in this world. Indeed, the language of the Great Commission sounds the Genesis call to once again, “fill the earth”, propelled by the power of the indwelling Christ. The strength of Mary’s soul and her profound faith is portrayed in a few words in Scripture, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Crossway).
This is the heart of the mother of the Christ Child. In the dark hours of prayer in the garden of Gethsemane as Jesus is facing His bitter journey, He is confronted with the work His God entrusts to Him, God’s Steward. Jesus is entrusted with a work of suffering and self-sacrifice. Through agony, honesty and tears, Jesus, son of Mary, responds to His Master’s call, echoing the words of his mother, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Crossway).
Likewise, let this be our prayer as faithful stewards.
Crossway. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ePub Edition. Wheaton: Good News Publishers, 2001.
Saunders, Laura. Children’s cells live on in mothers. 10 May 2015. https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/growth-curve/children%E2%80%99s-cells-live-mothers.
Andrea Leigh Capuyan is the Executive Director of the Laurel Pregnancy Center.
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