Mary: A Consenting Plodder 9/26/99

Luke 1:30, 31, 37 & 38

Jesus Christ in choosing to come to earth to rescue the eminently imperfect human race elected a unique portal to this planet. His purpose in coming was to make peace between God Almighty and us. To achieve this He had to be equal to both of the estranged parties: God and human beings. This necessitated the virgin birth involving the Holy Spirit and a young virgin girl from a remote peasant village named Mary.

Mary is a peerless pattern of a purposeful plodder.

The term plodder is used in a complementary way to speak of people who chart their course and don’t deviate. They know where they are going and intuitively they know they are going there.

No matter who you are or what you do there are times in the lives of virtually everyone when tempted to quit; just give up. It happens to everyone. Great achievers are those who have come to those points and kept plodding full speed ahead.

You like most people may not have a bonfire of zeal burning in your soul at all times. Just be sure you keep the pilot-light lit so at the right moment you can turn up the heat.

Equally talented and wise persons who have come to that point and quit have littered the playing field of life with unrequited ability. They have left undone what their higher calling demanded of them. Unfinished tasks are a monument to what might have been.

The saddest words on tongue or pen are these — it might have been!

Perseverance is the pavement on which the wheels of progress turn most productively.

Quitters never win and winners never quit.

Living effectively and enjoyably for Christ demands perseverance; perpetual plodding. Fits of herkey-jerkey, starts-and-stops do nothing to honor Him or add to the joy of the Christian life. A long obedience in the same direction.

Friedrich Nietzche, by no means a philosophical moral model, nevertheless shared a classic challenge to consistency in his book Beyond Good and Evil:

“The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth,’ is…that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.”

When you have a dream, a concept, you are persuaded is of the Lord, commit yourself to it regardless of the odds.

“Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37: 5).

A modern English translation makes it even clearer: “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him to help you do it and He will.”

If you have the conviction that what you are about to do is of the Lord: eye it, buy it, and try it. That is, make your commitment even before you solve all the problems. Personally be sold on the idea and then be willing to pay the price of persistence.

Realize that if a concept is of the Lord and you drop the ball you will have shown disrespect of the Lord by spoiling one of His ideas.

If you say you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ make a commitment. Belief always calls for commitment and commitment always calls for disciplined perseverance. If you have an idea you are convinced is of the Lord make a commitment and engage in the discipline necessary to fulfill it.

You like everyone else have great ideas. Who is your worst opponent, the one who kills more of your good ideas than anyone? Take a look in the mirror and you will find your answer. The missing ingredient is often follow-through, the failure to keep plodding.

Inspiration is derived from secular current events as well as Biblical lives.

Albert Schweitzer, a virtual genius with three graduate degrees started a hospital in the jungle. One day he asked a local with whom he had been working to bring in some fire wood. The young man had been learning to read and write and replied, “I’d like to, sir, but it’s beneath my dignity. I am a scholar – and intellectual.”

Schweitzer chuckled and said, “I’ve always wanted to be an intellectual too, but never quite made it, so I’ll carry the wood!” He went out and did it. Commitment is never beneath the dignity of a plodder.

Plodders persevere when faced with adversity and defeat. Consider the life of Winston.

A Scottish farmer was out walking one day when he heard the desperate cry of a young boy. The call for help was coming from a nearby bog. The farmer ran to offer help. He found the boy bogged down up to his waste in the thick mud and sinking even deeper. He extended his staff to the boy and pulled him to safety. Remember that mud caked boy you will meet him again in a moment.

The next day a carriage drawn by beautiful horses pulled up to the farm house. An elegantly dressed man emerged and in the moments that followed offered to reward the Scotsman, who refused.

During the conversation the farmer’s son came out of the house. (Keep the son of the farmer in mind. You will meet him again also.)

Seeing the lad the nobleman made the Scotsman an offer: “Let me take your son and give him a good education. If the lad is anything like his father, he’ll grow into a man you can be proud of.” The offer was accepted and agreed upon with a hand shake.

Now the two boys! With the passing of time the Scotsman’s son graduated from St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School, London. He later became known globally as Sir Alexander Fleming, the renowned discover of penicillin.

The mud caked son of the nobleman was Winston Churchill. He first distinguished himself in the Boer War in 1899. As a brave 25 year old he made a spectacular escape form captivity. A fellow officer writing to congratulate him predicted he would someday be prime minister of England. In part he wrote, “You possess the two necessary qualifications; genius and plod. Combined I believe nothing can keep them back.” One without the other would have kept him back. His route to that eminent office required plodding.

As first lord of the admiralty he was unfairly made the scapegoat in the Dardanelles fiasco in 1915, where 200,000 persons died in battle. His officers refused to obey his commands and lost the battle.

He became a writer and survived from royalty check to royalty check. But he kept plodding to become one of the greatest British authors.

Later in his political career he suffered two major defeats.

Five years after being elected he was un out of office because of economic reversals. From 1932 to 1940 his party was out of power and he without influence. He became absorbed with the conduct of an emerging German leader Adolph Hitler. In 1933 he made his first speech warning of Hitler’s threat to freedom. Churchill was branded a fanatic and warmonger.

He suffered deep depression which he called his “black dog.”

On the eventful morning Hitler amassed two million troops along the borders of Belgium and Holland the British began to look for a leader. Churchill was named First Lord of the Administration and days later Prime Minister. At age 66 he was prepared to lead Great Britain to their finest hour.

He infused his burning persistence into the soul of the nation. His gift of plod was contagious in the life of his countrymen. It turned their despair into hope.

In one of the darkest hours of the war he addressed his nation by radio with these inspiring Words: “We shall go to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills, we shall never surrender.”

That dogged determination is needed in the spiritual arenas of our lives. With it more spiritual conquest would be enjoyed.

This man gifted with genius and plod was stricken with pneumonia at the height of the crisis. In those days it was most often fatal. His life was sparred by a new miracle drug.

Flashback! Remember it was young Winston who was pulled from the bog by the Scottish farmer. Enter the farmer’s son educated by Churchill’s father, Sir Alexander Fleming. He administered his new drug called penicillin and the life of Sir Winston Churchill was spared. The son of the man who saved young Winston from the bog became the doctor who saved his life from pneumonia.

The gift of plod lifted the cause of freedom over the tarantelle powers of despotism fostered by Hitler.

Dr. Beck Weathers is an example of a pursuant plodder. On May 10, 1996 a violent storm swept over Mt. Everest buffeting the thirty adventurers who were descending from the mountain’s summit. The heavy snow and hurricane force winds caught them off guard. Within 24 hours eight of the climbers were dead.

Among the climbers severely injured by the spring storm was Dr. Seaborn Beck Weathers, a forty- nine year old amateur climber. Lying unconscious and exposed on the mountain’s icy rocks he had been left for dead.

The next morning, after the storm had passed, he awoke dazed and badly injured. His vision was impaired and he could see only three or four feet. His hands were badly frostbitten and he had no feeling in his feet. It’s his story let’s let him tell it:
“I was lying on my back in the ice. It was colder than anything you can believe. I figured I had three or four hours to live, so I started walking. All I knew was, as long as my legs would run, and I could stand up, I was going to keep moving toward that camp, and if I fell down, I was going to get up. And if I fell down again, I was going to get up, and I was going to keep moving until I either hit that camp or I couldn’t get up at all, or I walked off the face of that mountain.”

Dr. Weathers, a gifted surgeon, lost his right hand to frostbite, and part of his left as well. Though he lost his hands he never lost hope. He literally kept on plodding.

You may be experiencing your own icy storm and be tempted to give up. Don’t! Like Dr. Weathers keep on plodding toward your God given goal.

Now consider with me one of the most admirable of Bible plodders. We first meet her in the village of cave dwellers called Nazareth. The historian Josephus list over 200 settlements in Galilee. Nazareth was so small and undeveloped it was not included. Excavations reveal it to have been the habitat of cave dwellers. In a private moment Mary was startled by the appearance of an angel.

“Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS” (Luke 1:30,31).

As a young woman she knew the punishment for pregnancy outside of marriage was death by stoning. She being a virgin asked a logical question, “How can this be?” A tremor must have gone through her when the angel said to her:

“And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).

Knowing the mentality of most youth today if Mary had responded as they might she would have said, “Yeah, right! Whose going to believe that?”

Not this plodder. By angelic revelation she had first to eye it. Then she had to buy it. Immediately her response indicated she was willing to try it as she replied: “Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word’” (Luke 1:38).

She was a consenting plodder. Her Son, our Savior, would later pray a similar prayer in Gethsamene, “Not my will, but thy will be done.”

Belief always calls for commitment and commitment requires disciplined perseverance. Mary, a classic plodder, made her commitment and engaged in disciplined perseverance.

Logic fills in some blanks in Scripture. After the birth of Jesus Joseph isn’t heard of. At the wedding in Cana of Galilee Mary is there but Joseph isn’t. No civil wife would have dared to go to such a social event without her husband if he were living. Evidently Joseph had died. However, before his death he and Mary had other children. They are named in Matthew 13:55.

As a single parent she kept plodding along in an environment alien to easy child rearing. Some of the world’s greatest plodders have been and are parents who have faithfully reared their children without spousal support.

To such persons who may be weary and overburdened to the point of being fatigued and inclined to compromise —- don’t. Mary didn’t. She kept plodding and the Lord honored.

Jesus Christ was the God\man-man\God. As God, Immanuel, He subjected Himself to human limitations regarding His own person. He emptied Himself and became obedient to human limitations. The only time He used His supernatural powers was for the benefit of others. As an infant, child, and youth He was the earthly child of Mary. His early years are summed up;

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52).

Mary was involved with cultivating the young Jesus and saw to it that He developed a balanced life.
He grew in wisdom – intellectually,
Statue – physically,
Favor with God – spiritually,
and men — socially.

Certain things are known about her that help our understanding of what a model mother she was.

Theirs was a poor family. At the birth of Christ Mary and Joseph gave the sacrifice of a pair of pigeons, the gift of the poor.

She gave Him an unpretentious earthly home, the only one He knew. In that home were modeled character-forming influences.

Mary descriptively spoke of herself as “the handmaid of the Lord.” What a beautiful concept. He servant temperament was ever evident.

Gabriel had told her, “the Lord is with thee.” She lived with an awareness of His divine presence. To her God was not a supernatural being remote and uninvolved with her. He was ever present.

Obedience was a trait of Mary revealed at the time of the birth announcement. She modeled it to her household. A child who will not obey his or her parents will not obey God. Children are more likely to obey their parents if they see their parents obeying God. If the parent is willing to put self under authority the child is much more likely to put himself under the authority of the parent.

Restricting Himself to human limitations the child Christ had to learn. What He learned is evidenced by His knowledge of Scripture. He was evidently taught it in the home. The home should still be the primary place of instruction.

Later in life Jesus is depicted as going to the synagogue “as was His custom.” He was taught that divine worship was proper.

Next, let’s look in on this plodder at the wedding of Cana of Galilee. A need arises at this festive social gathering and Mary asked Jesus to supply the need. His response to her seems to our western ear harsh. Nevertheless, she turns to the servants and says, “Whatever he says to you, do it” (John 1: 5).

She was compliant and called on others to comply.

Fast forward to one of our last glimpses of Mary. Her son hangs before her on a cross. He is falsely accused of making a bogus claim that He is the Son of God.

Mary was either the most heartless mother to ever live or the most heartbroken. If the story of the virgin birth were a lie she is willfully letting her son die because of her youthful lie. It was no lie and she of all people knew it to be true. She had no doubt as to who He was. She knew Him to be the virgin born Son of God.

At the announcement of His pending birth she had sung: “My soul Magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” (Luke 1: 46).

This compliant mother who had faithfully plodded all of life’s journey with her child, the Son of God, is compliant and suffers her grief at the cross knowing she can truly say He is “God my Savior.”