Delightful Blessing or Duty?

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“And blessed is she that believed:  for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.”  Luke 1:45

I don’t like to watch scary movies.  One time we were watching one that we didn’t know would be scary.  But we kept watching.  Why?  Because we kept hoping it would get better and that the bad stuff would stop happening and there would be a good ending.  In that case, we should have just stopped watching.  But isn’t life like that?  Aren’t we all wanting to see what the ending will be like.  Aren’t we anxious to know how it will all turn out and how all the pieces are going to fall in to place.  Don’t we all want to see that happy ending in our life.  I mean, not that we want to rush it, be I think we all desire a happy ending.  So how do we get to a happy ending?

Today’s verse in Scripture falls right before Mary’s “magnificat.”  Elisabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and He puts words in her mouth.  She realizes that Mary is with child and that child is the Messiah, Jesus.  Elisabeth and the baby inside her own womb rejoice in this truth, this moment coming to pass in their own time.  And the Holy Spirit, through Elisabeth’s mouth and voice, commends Mary for her faith.  And in doing so, the Holy Spirit gives us another glimpse at what faith looks like and acts like and feels like.

So, how does faith look, fell, and behave?  Well, it starts with a listening to what You tell us, Lord.  And that starts with listening to Your Word.  Mary would have had a Scriptural background.  She wasn’t a scholar but children were taught for the Torah at an early age.  They memorized parts of Scripture.  They were given sweet treats as they learned Your Word so that they would know “[how] sweet are Your words unto my taste!  Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103)  But she was also sensitive to the leading and voice of the Holy Spirit.  WhenYou, Lord, spoke to her, she listened and obeyed.  She took steps in her life toward the fulfilling of Your words.  What You promised to perform in her, she took steps towards seeing that fulfilled.  She prepared.  And she went to other people who were preparing in the same way.  She sought those who would understand and encourage her preparations in Your truth.

But all her preparations hinged on the fact that Mary believed.  And because Mary believed, she was already blessed.  Now, some of the interpretations say how happy Mary was because she believed You would keep Your promise to her.  Most of the interpretations say something to that effect.  Isn’t it more than that, though?  What if being blessed isn’t something that happened to Mary because of the choice she made?  What if being blessed wasn’t because of what God did to her based on her belief?

How do her belief and blessing relate?  Blessed is from the Greek word “makarios.”  The Hebrew equivalent is “esher.”  Both words are not verbs, but they are nouns.  In Psalms, we see it in the maskils.  A maskil is “an insight for action.”    It’s not about Mary or me being a passive recipient.  God doesn’t just do something in us.  We bring about a state of bliss in ourselves by the particular actions we take.  In other words, the inner state of a person, like Mary or me, who acts in belief, is an inner state of belief.  When I act in faith, that response creates in me an inner peace, satisfaction, joy, and strength.  It’s something I experience.  It’s what Mary experienced, based on her action.  See, it’s all about connection, not reward, and not consequence.

Because of my connection to You, I act in faith.  In that connection which led me to act in faith, in that connection that produced that faith and that was accompanied by action, I experience the bliss of connection with You.  Because of my connection with You by faith, I experience the actions that are of You.  I participate with You.  As You perform, I am connected with You in that performance.  See, Mary believed and entrusted herself to You in relationship even before Your angel came to her.  And she confirmed that relationship when she said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Your word.”  She entered into You in obedience.  She walked in Your truth.  She was living in a blessed state because she was letting You perform Your works in her.  She actively chose to receive You, which is to actively choose internal “bliss.”  Mary was the one controlling her state of blessing.

So what if this was a condition brought on by Mary’s actions?  To experience this blessing, this internal bliss, I must have faith that is exhibited.  Only then will I enter into this blessedness.  I believe in my head, my heart, but I must live out that belief with my actions.  That’s where the blessing blossoms.  That’s where inner strength and peace are grown.  I don’t act and You shower me with blessing.  You are the blessing.  You are the bliss.  And the bliss in You is why I act.  

I can be confident like Mary was knowing, that the One who began a good work in me will bring it fruition (Philippians 1:6).  It makes me think of Psalm 1.  Unless I already have this inner bliss in You, how can I resist the wicked?  But my inner bliss in You brings me to delight in You.  And because I delight in You, my actions follow.  I desire to be around people like Elisabeth, who delight in You also.  I don’t want to listen to wrong, evil council.  I don’t want to hang out with those who are all about their own plans.  I don’t want to sit and gossip with people or lord things over others.  I want to plant my roots deeply in You and soak up Your living water with all its nutrients.  I want to bear the fruit that You deposit in me.  This is that supreme inner bliss in You.  This is what we are searching for.  This is that happy ending.  

But it’s more than a happy ending.  It’s a an extraordinary new life.  It’s not performance based.  It’s relationship based.  My performance flows out of my relationship.  I’m not blessed because I do good.  I’m blessed because You dwell in me and I know You.  And from that blessing, all my actions flow.  And in allowing these actions to flow, I live in extraordinary blessing.  

Mary said that her spirit has rejoiced in God her Savior.  She has had this attachment to You that isn’t just now leading her to jump for joy in You, but has lead her to feel that way about You.  And because of that experience in You, You produce from her the greatest Fruit of all time.  Lord, I want to delight in You above everything.  I want to reciprocate back to You, the way You feel about me.  Zephaniah 3:17 tells me that You rejoice over Your people with joy.  There’s that idea of dancing with joy over us.  I want to feel that way about You.  I want to live that way about You.  I have everything to dance about and sing about and rejoice about in You because You are everything wonderful and life itself in me.  You are mighty in me.  You save.  You are rest.  You are love.  And You share them all with me in joy unfeigned.  You find delight in something that is not worthy, yet You make me delightful in Your eyes.  How can I help being delighted, absolutely delighted in You?

Lord, You are the blessing.  You are not a duty.  You are my delight.  In You, I have everything that I need and I am exactly what You want me to be.  I am Your child.  I have a more than happy ending because You are the beginning, middle, and end and I am in You.  I get to soak up like a sponge all that You are.  I get to experience You from the day I surrender to You into eternity!  This is the relationship and purpose we were created for.  I can live in this relationship and this truth.  Your will, Your goodness, Your works can flow from me when I am in You.  You are my Absolute Blessing.  Flow from me and be the blessing of those around me.  Leave behind me a path of people fully delighting in You.  And let us shine forth in the product of that delight, which is the evidence of Your power in our lives.  

 

 

 

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