Section 3: The Light Dawns
My wife and I had an opportunity to go to Austria and Switzerland a few years ago. We stayed with friends, visited towns, and hiked the alps. While staying in one particular valley, which many believe was the inspiration for Tolkien’s Rivendell, I was struck by how inescapable the mountains were for those living in them. The mountains loomed large and filled the sightlines on all sides.
Mountain villages speak quietly and grandly about the heritage of generations shaped by them. Mountains are majestic and dangerous even, yet they offer protection and safety for those who embrace them and allow them to shape their way of life. Even the light that shines in the valley between the mountains is shaped by their contours.
Mary lived in a world shaped not by physical mountains, but by the contours and valleys of God’s mercy and covenant faithfulness. He had promised the Israelites to be for them generation after generation. We see from her song that God’s mercy looms large in Mary’s imagination. Her perspective on life is so shaped by God’s covenantal mercy that when she hears news of the One she is to carry in her own womb, her heart leaps to singing about God’s faithfulness.
As Mary declares,
“He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering his mercy
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he spoke to our ancestors” (Luke 1:54–55).
Her heart was primed to believe, because she knew the heart of God. We often think unbelief is an intellectual issue but it’s actually more often a relational distortion. Mary knew Scripture’s promises, and she knew God’s heart to be one of righteous justice and mercy. We live in a world full of darkness. It is easy for us to get discouraged when we see injustice and tyranny. Mary knew these well; yet her confidence in the Lord caused her to respond to news of God’s stirrings with exclamations of joy. Like the sun peaking in over the mountains and cutting away the fog, she sees the explicable goodness in the person she carried in her womb.
How do we surround ourselves and the imaginations of our hearts with God’s mercy? How do we fill our sightlines with visions of God’s faithfulness? We do well to imitate Mary. We ought to rehearse the goodness of God. We ought to read about God’s faithfulness in Scripture, and meditate on his commitment to fulfill all His promises. We ought to reflect on ways we’ve seen God’s faithfulness in our own lives.
Oh, that our souls would magnify the Lord! That to hear of another account of God’s faithfulness would cause our own spirit to rejoice. The mighty One has done great things for us: may our hearts reflect that reality. May our sightlines be filled with memories of God’s grace and past faithfulness, that we might rightly respond to the Lord with joy.