Well, the wait is over! This Friday, I get to watch my grandkids go crazy when they open up their presents. I don’t know about you … I’m on my 60th Christmas, and it never gets old. Something about it helps me to forget all the troubles of the past year. And we’ve had plenty of them! Merry Christmas to you and your family, from all of us at View From The Top.
One thing I’ll miss, that usually happens at our church … the kids’ version of the Christmas Story. They always have cute kids dressed up as the Three Wise Men, the oxen and the sheep, and Mary and Joseph. It never fails - one of the kids loses focus, starts doing his own thing, and soon all the adults are laughing and the kids don’t know why.
It’s all part of the fun. Most people know parts of the story. If they knew the background and details, though, they might think a little differently.
When Robin and I raised our girls, we had standards about what was “okay” during dating, and what was off-limits. We told them the right time to make decisions was long before they ever went out on a date. It couldn’t have been any less strict, in the days when Mary woke up to find the angel Gabriel paying her a visit.
If I was a young lady, looking forward to a healthy marriage, and an angel told me I was going to be pregnant before my wedding … I’d have lost it. I don’t know how Mary held it together. According to the story, she said, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it happen, just as you have said.”
Would you say the same thing, if it was you? Mary was now in danger of being dragged in front of judges and stoned for having sex out of wedlock. Nobody was going to believe her.
I wonder if she had a coach, mentor or some trusted advisors she could turn to. They didn’t usually have mastermind groups in 1st Century rural areas, did they? Even today, you need to go online for groups like Iron Sharpens Iron. Click here if you’ve thought about joining one.
Why Mary Stayed Grateful
When I was young, my parents struggled financially. We lived on a farm outside of Nashville. My dad worked hard to make a living. Life wasn’t always easy … but I never remember hearing my parents complain. They were just used to being thankful, and that was the way it was.
Maybe it’s something about being raised out in the country. Farm life forces you to learn what you can change, versus what you can’t. And for all the things you have no power to change … you’re thankful when they go your way.
Well, according to tradition, most people in ancient Israel made their living in farming. But back then, you didn’t have electricity, running water or heat. Every night was a campout, building a fire. Every day, you wondered where your next meal came from. A lot of things were simply out of your hands.
Somebody can correct me if I’m wrong. But if there’s a box to check that says “Mary was used to being grateful, no matter the circumstances,” I’ll go with that explanation. “That’s my story,” as Collin Raye sang, “and I’m sticking to it.”
You can tell by her reactions, Mary knew what was going to happen. She knew this wouldn’t be a lot of fun. But she believed the angel’s promise - she was going to be the mother of Jesus! Maybe she figured if God was truly behind this, He’d find a way to make it turn out for good.
Mary understood something a lot of us don’t - success is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s not all sunshine and lollipops. You don’t always go straight to the finish line. Just like we all understand from 2020, right? It was no picnic getting here. But here we are!
If you’re running that marathon, you’re going to need somebody to cheer you on and hold you accountable. Click here to join one of our mastermind groups online today.
How To Make Gratitude Stick Around In 2021
There’s another part of the Christmas story we don’t see in kids’ plays. It’s when Mary goes to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who is pregnant with her own son, John the Baptist.
By this time, Mary clearly has “a bun in the oven.” She’s showing, and everybody back in Nazareth is … doing what people do when something controversial happens. Gossip, whispers and accusations - especially since Mary insists that she’s carrying God’s baby.
But does Mary complain? Does she talk about how hard her life is, or whine about how it’s so unfair?
That’s what made this girl so incredible. Do you like it when people talk bad about you? I know I get offended and hurt, if I overhear someone badmouthing me. But Mary doesn't fall for the bait, even though nobody would blame her for letting loose on some of those people.
It takes a special character to stay humble and grateful to God when you go through painful things. But when Mary meets Elizabeth, she breaks into a song, thanking and praising God. She’s accepted that she’s on a mission, and she’s on God’s team.
If you want to see them, Mary’s song lyrics are in the Gospel of Luke. They tell us some of the Mary’s key beliefs and actions.
- Mary humbled herself.
This young lady was super-strong on the inside. She had every reason to get mad at God and blame Him. Instead, she sang a song that magnified God, giving thanks that He was aware of her humble state.
Life won’t go well in 2021, if we’re too busy being proud and arrogant. And we can’t go to the other extreme, and be negative. If you struggle with gratitude, trust me … somewhere, somehow, your humility is out of balance. I know, because I was that man.
- Mary anticipated good things, and predicted them.
Mary’s song lyrics expect great things from God. “From now on,” she sang, “all generations will call me blessed.” Was she right or what? Have you noticed how well-known she is to this day, around the world?
It makes a lot more sense, when you really dig into this story. I never paid much attention, until I realized what she risked to bring Jesus into the world. Could your actions and attitude say something similar for you, in 2020? What would you hope they’d say?
- She doesn’t measure success with dollar signs.
Mary understood something most entrepreneurs struggle with: dollar signs don’t mean “true wealth.” Take it from me - the guy who came home with a pocketful of money to a house full of strangers! You can make all the money in sight … but if you lose God or the people you love, you’re about as useless as a trap door on a canoe.
Instead, she sang, “He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty.” Mary could see, even as young as she was, that being rich doesn’t last forever. Someday, we’ve all got to go stand before God. She knew that the real treasure was the baby in her womb.
Are you in the mood for a more humble, grateful and expectant atmosphere in 2021? If so, I encourage you to apply to join one of our masterminds online.