The Beautiful Scandal


The Privilege and Pain of a Calling

I’ve always been fascinated by Mary. Her story is not the greeting-card mini-drama portrayed by many every Christmas; it’s a rugged journey of faith against intense opposition and under unimaginable pain. Sure, she pondered the beauty and wonder of it in her heart, and it had to be extremely fulfilling. But it wasn’t easy. She’s a hero of faith.

Below is an excerpt from my recent devotional Bible, Dancing in the Desert. It’s a reflection on some of what Mary went through, especially in the early years. There’s so much more to explore in her life; my colleague Phil Tuttle will have a book on Mary coming out soon that goes into much more depth. But here’s a taste from my devotional Bible—a reminder that Christmas is about callings, hopes, dreams, and a scandalous Savior who fulfills them in unexpected ways.

Mary’s Sacrifice

Gabriel called Mary “favored,” and he was right. Her role in history was unique—unprecedented and never to be repeated—and the outcome glorious. But this favor would be a painful blessing to receive. For years, Mary would be considered by many of the people around her as a scandalous mother who bore a scandalous son who died a scandalous death.

Her husband, a few close relatives and spiritually sensitive people, and some shepherds near Bethlehem knew the truth, but from all outward appearances, this was a girl whose pregnancy began in shame.

Perhaps that “family secret” faded into the background over time, as most family secrets do. Mary certainly knew the truth and treasured it in her heart, and the testimony of Scripture and the fruit of Jesus’ resurrection power tell us what really happened behind the scenes and who Jesus really is.

But Mary’s experience during her lifetime was filled with sacrifices. The controversy over Jesus’ ministry and his excruciating execution had to provoke the worst pains a mother can feel. She experienced Jesus as the Savior of the world. But she also experienced him as her son. This was surely not the life she had envisioned for herself in the years before Gabriel came.

We may not experience the same degree of redirection, but few of us live the life we envisioned. We know what it means to be redirected by God. Mary had the privilege of receiving an announcement that God would rearrange her life, and though she couldn’t have foreseen all the implications, she knew it meant a surrender of her own expectations.

She willingly submitted to God’s plan. To be chosen for God’s purposes means giving up our own. The privilege and pain of a calling come packaged together, but the calling is always a sign of God’s favor.

Excerpted from Dancing in the Desert Devotional Bible, © 2015 by Chris Tiegreen, Tyndale House Publishers.

Click to tweet: To be chosen for God's purposes means giving up our own.


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jenny 16.12.2015 13:47  
Yes No   the last couple of weeks,I have been musing on this very subject. Her song has no traces of it nor does the bible elaborate on the shame of the entire life of Jesus. Yet I begin to to think that as we find ourselves in Christ, this becomes our story. Strange to the world yet fulfilling purposes of God.All of which we may not immediately understand.
Thank you for your insight. It is very refreshing .
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Chris Tiegreen 16.12.2015 17:44  
Yes No   Great insight, Jenny. Thanks for sharing!  
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