A Solitary Life

Frederick Buechner talks about how
Mary’s perilous journey toward Bethlehem begins in Luke’s Gospel:

She struck the
angel Gabriel as hardly old enough to have a child at all, let alone
this child, but he’d been entrusted with a message to give her, and
he gave it. 

He told her
what the child was to be named, and who he was to be, and something
about the mystery that was to come upon her. "You mustn’t be
afraid, Mary," he said.

And as he said
it, he only hoped she wouldn’t notice that beneath the great,
golden wings he himself was trembling with fear to think that the
whole future of creation hung now on the answer of a girl (Frederick
Buechner, Peculiar Treasures: A Biblical Who’s Who,
HarperSanFranciso: 1979)

William Barclay once observed that
the world’s most popular prayer is, "Thy will be changed."
But Barclay challenged us to remember that world’s greatest prayer
is, "Thy will be done." Mary prayed the latter.  So this
night let us pause to remember this woman of courage.

But Mary
treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19).

An angel approached her to say you
will bear a son.  Joseph, her betrothed says you are my wife.  Her
cousin Elizabeth exclaims in her presence “Blessed are you among
women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Luke 1:42).  They
travel to Bethlehem to be registered and none of Joseph’s kin make
this family welcome.  Then the shepherds show up.  It seems to me
that Mary ought to be pondering.

Jim Collins, author of Built to
and Good to Great, recently asked Bob Buford a
compelling question:

Collins began
with a parable that went something like this: "If I came to you
today and said there was a man wandering around in the Middle East
with fifty followers. In 300 years, his religion would be the formal
religion of the United States. What did they do to connect the dots?
Put aside that it had to happen because it was true. How did it
happen?" (Bob Buford, ACTIVEenergy.net Newsletter,
December 6, 2005.  Also see Buford’s ActiveEnergy web site and the site at HalfTime Minsitry which he helped launch).

In response Bob’s invitation to
answer Collin’s question, James A. Francis forwarded this
observation titled “One Solitary Life.”

  • He was born in an obscure
    village, the child of a peasant woman.

  • He grew up in still another
    village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty.
    Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.

  • He never wrote a book.

  • He never held an office.

  • He never had a family or owned
    a house.

  • He didn’t go to college.

  • He never visited a big city.

  • He never traveled two hundred
    miles from the place where He was born.

  • He did none of the things one
    usually associates with greatness. He had no credentials but

  • He was only thirty-three when
    the tide of public opinion turned against Him.  His friends ran

  • He was turned over to His
    enemies and went through a mockery of a trial.

  • He was nailed to a cross
    between two thieves.

  • While He was dying, His
    executioners gambled for His clothing, the only property He had on

  • When he was dead, He was laid
    in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Twenty centuries have come and gone,
and today He is the central figure of the human race and the leader
of mankind’s progress.  All the armies that ever marched, all the
navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the
kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of
man on this earth as much as that one solitary life (James A. Francis).

(Bob Buford, ACTIVEenergy.net
, December 21, 2005).