I’ve been perusing the lists of the Most Admired Men and Women in my home country that are just coming out now for 2013 as well as those for previous years. I would love to know what criteria people use to choose them. Interestingly, Billy Graham is one of the few non-politicians listed. “Graham has appeared in the top 10 list far more often than any other man, making his 57th appearance this year,” according to Christianity Today. This man’s life of integrity, courage, faith and simplicity has been a shining example to several generations. (My dad attended one of his first meetings back in LA before Graham was famous, and my family attended another in the mid-60s.)
Wondering if any of these lists include historical figures, I did find someone’s list of their Top 10 Admired Women throughout history. The earliest of these dates back to the first century, Boudica, “a queen of the Iceni people of Norfolk who lead an uprising of the tribes against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire.”
What surprises me is that none of these lists include Mary, the mother of Jesus. Maybe it’s just too obvious. Maybe it’s just taken for granted that she occupies that place so they don’t think to include her. This was obviously the opinion of one woman in a crowd where Jesus was teaching who just couldn’t help herself and blurted out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you!”
But what a surprising answer He gave:
“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” (Luke 11:27-28)
So…if I listen and read what the Bible teaches and then obey it, I make God’s “Most Blessed Person” list, sharing the honor with Billy Graham and many others who have been obedient to God. I hope this includes you, too.
Isn’t that much better than making the list of some fickle human for any given year?
What’s similar between the story of Jesus’ “transfiguration” on the mountain and the story of Mary and Martha’s behavior when Jesus was their guest?
In the first, Peter’s response was that he had to DO something: maybe build some shelters for Jesus and his guests, Moses and Elijah. In the second, Martha’s priority was on DOING something: fixing a meal for Jesus and the other guests.
But both Peter and Martha were gently reprimanded and told to just stop and listen to Jesus. (See Matthew 17:1-8 and Luke 10:38-41.)
Here’s the link to a beautiful song that helps me slow down and listen to the Lord:
I have confessions to make: I’m a scaredy cat. Scared of heights. Scared of water. Scared of… well, new things and change, and more than I’d like to admit.
But I’m in good company. Joshua must have been rather nervous about leading the Israelites into Canaan because God and even his people kept telling him, “Don’t be afraid!” “Be courageous!” Why? “God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9, etc.)
We also read about the Israelites cowering between the Red Sea and the advancing Egyptian army. And Mary startled by an angel with an astounding announcement. And shepherds blinded by laser light from heaven. And the disciples sighting a “ghost” walking on the stormy lake. And Jairus whose daughter had just died. And many more. All of these were told “Don’t be afraid.” Because God is there.
My fear of heights was challenged a few years ago when my husband and I visited Israel and our group walked along a narrow path above Wadi Qilt between Jerusalem and Jericho. On one side it dropped straight down too far to look (yikes!) and on the other, it went straight up. I had no alternative but to keep putting one foot ahead of the other, imagining (or maybe it wasn’t my imagination) that I was following my Shepherd along that scary path. And you know what? We made it! It was a faith-growing experience.
Though I’m still scared of a lot of things, I know that God is with me and will lead me through whatever He permits to happen.
The writers of the New Testament (especially Luke) seem to have a special place in their heart for women. I love to look at these women and think how I might follow their example in seeking and serving the Lord:
Mary and Elizabeth—responded positively when chosen for special roles in God’s salvation.
Anna—widowed, led a life of active devotion to God, saw & proclaimed the Messiah.
Mary & Martha—pursued special friendship with Jesus like few probably had. Mary gave lavished her treasure unreservedly on Jesus.
Woman with bleeding—believed, touched, was healed & blessed.
Widow who gave two coins—did beyond the expected, gave everything!
Sinful woman—came where she was unwelcome in order to see Jesus, repent and be forgiven.
Priscilla—exercised leadership gifts along with her husband and Paul, hospitality, consistent life and teaching.
In Matthew 26 we read a story of a famous person and an infamous person.
Mary, who valued Jesus above her highest treasure, poured it all out on his head.
Judas, who disdained Jesus as worthless, not only censured Mary but also sold Jesus for a pittance.
Both of these have gone down in history—she in honor; he in infamy.
“What will you do with Jesus?
Neutral you cannot be…”
[Albert B. Simpson]