Updated: Oct 17, 2019
“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
-Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
In the story of The Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38), the angel Gabriel told Mary that she was going to have a baby, despite the fact that she was a virgin. Understandably so, Mary was a bit confused. She asked, “How can this be?” Gabriel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Gabriel didn’t give Mary a lot of details. He offered three sentences when three volumes of explanation was needed. It wasn’t much for her to go on. Mary could have interrogated Gabriel and pelted him with scads of follow-up questions. I know I would have. I’m not big on surprises and I’m still working on the “gentle and quiet spirit” aspect of my character. (1 Peter 3:3-4) But Mary? She simply replied, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” I don’t think her acceptance of Gabriel’s answer was because she didn’t have any questions. I suspect her head was spinning with them. Wouldn’t yours? But she trusted the mystery of God. Mary chose wonder. In 2015, researchers did a study of awe and its effects. They described the experience of awe as, “that sense of wonder we feel in the presence of something vast that transcends our understanding of the world.” When we witness the power of God in the real world, we enter into the sacred space of wonder. It’s a place where concrete things reflect something larger that cannot be touched. It’s the power of the ocean. It’s the hush of an evening snowfall. It’s the birth of a child. Wonder takes place when we realize we are part of something larger than us. The same researchers also reported “When experiencing awe, you may not, egocentrically speaking, feel like you're at the center of the world anymore.” Essentially, wonder makes our world bigger. It reminds us that we’re not the center of the universe. It diminishes cynicism and invites the unknown. It creates humility. Mary knew she was small and unable to grasp all the mysteries of God. It was enough to trust His plan, even if she didn’t have all her questions answered. Her smallness enjoyed the bigness of God. Mary didn’t need the details, because if nothing is impossible with God, then everything was possible.
Wonder believes that the impossible can happen. You might have a lot of questions about the things you don’t understand in this life. I do too. But I don’t want to live waiting for answers. I want to live waiting for God. I want to watch for Him to do what He does best; the impossible. I don’t want to be the center of the universe, even if I behave like it some days. I don’t want to sacrifice the gift of wonder for the illusion of control. This Christmas, I hope you allow a lot of questions to go unanswered. I hope you don’t Google everything that can be. I hope you take a moment to look around and find delight in all the things that make you feel small. I hope you are drawn closer to God not only by what you know of Him, but what you don’t. I hope you “believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” I pray that a renewed sense of wonder claims your heart when you recall the words that are still true today; “Nothing is impossible with God.”
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