Malia is 13…

by DanWolgemuth on December 18, 2020

Saturday was a night of celebration. Malia, our oldest granddaughter turned 13. A teenager. A beautiful young woman. Her own voice. Her own gifts. Malia.

So it wasn’t surprising that on a subsequent night, in the middle of my sleep, I awoke with Malia on my mind. But what hovered over my restless night were thoughts of another 13-year-old. Of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Did Mary have a grandfather? If so, how did he respond when the news broke that his precious Mary was pregnant. And not just pregnant, but pregnant without being married.

Then the news… the step of faith. The outrageous assertion of a divine conception.

My mind spun in the middle of the night as I thought about Mary’s burden. Her profound and humble delight… but yes, the weight of her reality. Her scandal.

Family reeling. Heads turning.

And while this singular event in the history of humankind is worth pondering, it also invites personal reflection. Personal scrutiny.

In the midst of a sleepless night I was confronted with my own tendency to rush to judgment. When something unexpected or out of “my norm” happens, I race, full speed, track shoes on… to my own conclusion. To a verdict without evidence. To a conclusion without facts. To a determination without context.

I invite myself into sacred space. Space only to be occupied by the living Christ Himself.

“For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father…” (John 5:22–23, ESV)

Jesus makes this abundantly and convictingly clear in His most famous sermon…

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1–2)

Mary not only carried the Son of God… she did so under the disdain-filled watch of ignorant observers. Those on a full sprint to judgment. Conclusions drawn; condemnation given.

In the waning hours of evening, I asked myself the question… would I have been a person of faith? Would I have believed the best? Would I have extended grace before I picked up a stone of condemnation?

And today, in different, yet similar circumstances, do I race to a conclusion without understanding.

That pregnant 13-year-old today. A baby, certainly not immaculately conceived… but do I presume to know? Do I shake my head in disgust? Without knowing a story. Without compassion. Without hope.

Or what about a collection of young men, walking together, laughing together, a darker hue than me… do I presume to know? Do I rush to a location that I’m not invited to occupy? Frankly, it begs the question of what would I have thought of the 12 disciples if they had walked past me on Main Street? Would I have seen them as called by God? As anointed? As world changers, or… dead beats. Unemployed. Lazy. Vagrants. Transients.

Malia ushered me into a place of conviction. Even as she ignited a deep measure of hope. I met the Holy Spirit in that place, and He didn’t leave me alone.

There is freedom in knowing that judging others is not in my job description. Wise living, yes. Discernment, always… but presuming to know the motives of others, never.

Jesus. The righteous judge. Truth, yes. Grace, abundantly.

When Jesus calls… and He does. He often invites us into a place that others will not understand. That others will judge. That others will condemn.

Far be it from me to do the same…

Merry Christmas…

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