And Elizabeth said…

The picture is a Greek Catholic icon depicting...
The picture is a Greek Catholic icon depicting the scene of the Visitation, that is the meeting of Virgin Mary and Saint Elizabeth, the mother of Saint John the Baptist. The icon was painted in the end of the 18th century as part of the iconostasis of the Greek Catholic Cathedral of Hajdúdorog, Hungary. This icon is placed on the first tier of the iconostasis, the so called Great Feasts tier. This icon is the fourth painting from the left. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sunday’s sermon began with an intro about the conception of the Lord. First my pastor explained that Elizabeth was an older relative of Mother Mary. Then, as the story unfolds, he explained that her pregnancy was also usual for someone so old. At last, he called her a senior citizen and the bristles rose on the back of my  neck. Okay. Enough already with the old stuff. I get it.

To imagine myself pregnant at my age would be horrific and impossible. So, I can identify with Liz. Yet, Mary’s predicament resonates with all women. Troubled, unsure, afraid, and bewildered are emotions many of us gals have experienced in relation to our pregnancies. I suspect that most of the readers of my blog are younger than myself, based on the comments I receive, and surprisingly have a few men following me. If you care to hang on for the journey, welcome aboard, but today’s thoughts come from a woman speaking to women.

“Hey, Mary. I figured you would get around to coming.” She grunted as she turned to see her young relative standing in the kitchen. Cradling her abdomen she said, “Little John‘s been going to town today. Now that you’re here, I guess he’s wanting to say hello to the both of you.”

She motioned for Mary to sit at the table. Bewildered, she responded: “You know?”

“Want some tea?”

Mary nods affirmatively.

“The Lord told me a while back. After what happened to me,” she patted her belly, “I just knew it would be true. Besides, it has been awfully quiet around here since Zech found out about us. Haven’t had much else to do but listen to the voice of the Lord.”

Mary sipped her tea. “What am I going to do, Liz? Joseph has been a perfect gentleman. He’ll never accept this. My parents! How am I going to explain this? All my friends have turned away!”

Elizabeth reached across the table and placed her hand on Mary’s. “With God, all things are possible, honey. Let’s have a little talk and pray for God‘s guidance for us both.”

Sounds feasible enough? It’s speculative thinking at best because the Word doesn’t give us the nitty gritty girl talk that you KNOW took place between this young girl and the seasoned citizen. Elizabeth’s life experience, undoubtedly, poured out over Mary’s sobs leaving her refreshed and strong to face her situation. As I continued to imagine this scenario, me of course playing the role of Liz in contemporary Biblical society, I came up with a list of Seasoned Advice for my young sisters.

1.  Be wisely selfish. This means, clearly identify what the Lord is saying to you and don’t let anyone distract you from that path. Many women my age, in their 60’s, lament all the things they should have done but did not. There’s no going back for a do over. Live today to the fullest with your goal clearly in front of you.

2.  Take care of yourself.  At 20, you can go out at 9 PM and stay out till the rooster crows. Keep doing that, and at 60 you won’t be able to stay awake till 9PM. I have met many women patients who are suffering with diseases they contracted as young foolhardy gals that cause them pain, infertility, and disability. What’s out there today is one great reason for monogamy, not to mention that it is the Lord’s optimal plan for you.  And just eat real food. If it has a bar code, don’t eat it. The old lady you are going to become will thank you for it.

3.  Reserve a little for yourself. Women give and give and give until they are dry to the bone. You will do the people around you a big favor by keeping your own interests alive. You will spend your later years able to appreciate and enjoy those hobbies and activities you worked at in your youth. Read great books, take up golf, lift weights, do crafts, buy a sewing machine; just find something to do to delight yourself along your way. You will have an island of sanity when the waves in life are crashing in.

4. Put a little away every month. Some resources have said that if a person would put 25 dollars away each month starting at age 18, they could build a fortune nearing one million dollars. I think about all the waste I’ve committed over a lifetime and regret that I could have had so much more put away. When you are young and healthy, getting a job doesn’t strike the same level of fear as it does in your later life when your strength and abilities are weakening. Believe it. You could end up a  hungry old woman. Plan ahead. “Old” comes faster than you can ever imagine.

5. Cultivate deep long term relationships with other women. Men come and go. Girlfriends stay the course. Remember that pajama party that you forfeited to go out with Mr. Teen Wonderful? He’s fat and bald by 60 and no where to be found. But, I’ll bet at least one of those girls is on your email list, a Facebook friend, or even living in your town close enough to do lunch. If you’ve lost touch with your girls, find some new ones! Bond with gals of all ages so that you will have access to the wisdom of those older and the vibrancy and strength of those younger. If you don’t believe me, visit a nursing home and see what sex the majority of the visitors are.

6. Apply the Ecclesiastes 12 principle.

1-2 Honor and enjoy your Creator while you’re still young, Before the years take their toll and your vigor wanes, Before your vision dims and the world blurs And the winter years keep you close to the fire.

3-5 In old age, your body no longer serves you so well. Muscles slacken, grip weakens, joints stiffen. The shades are pulled down on the world. You can’t come and go at will. Things grind to a halt. The hum of the household fades away. You are wakened now by bird-song. Hikes to the mountains are a thing of the past. Even a stroll down the road has its terrors. Your hair turns apple-blossom white, Adorning a fragile and impotent matchstick body. Yes, you’re well on your way to eternal rest, While your friends make plans for your funeral.

6-7 Life, lovely while it lasts, is soon over. Life as we know it, precious and beautiful, ends. The body is put back in the same ground it came from. The spirit returns to God, who first breathed it.

It’s all smoke, nothing but smoke. The Quester says that everything’s smoke.

At least, that’s how The Message explains the passage. One thing for sure, how you spend your youth will come back to you in your old age. The seasons of life are temporary. Girls, look ahead and prepare.

The rocking chair that Mary used to quiet her little baby boy one day became a tool for her to ease the pain in her back, prompt solace to her lonely soul, and provide a place for reflection on a life lived faithfully to her Lord who had called her into his unbelievable service.

“Don’t worry, Mary. I have it on good authority that our boys will be healthy, we’ll have a safe delivery, and God will take care of us all.” Liz sighed as she waited for Mary’s response.

“That’s so good to know, Liz. I guess I just need to enjoy the moment because it won’t last, right?”

“Now you’re getting the picture!”

Liz got out of her chair and went to Mary to embrace her.

“Yes, honey, and how it all ends is up depends on the Father. No sense fretting over what you can’t control.” Liz prayed silently as she thought of the deaths of their sons. “Yes, Mary, devote yourself  to unchanging truth because as life happens we can be easily led astray. We can waste our youth on those things that glorify neither God nor ourselves.”

Girlfriends, enjoy the days of your youth and serve God as you do so. Every embrace, new shade of lipstick, and knock out dress will be a memory soon enough. What will be left of your life of service? Take it from me and Liz, two seasoned citizens, you can still be used for God’s glory up until your final breath. But prepare yourself to be a workwoman approved, rightly dividing the Word of God. Start today!

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