The Inconvenient Virgin

I wake this morning to the sound of rain pounding on our back porch. I lay still and listen. I guess it’s fitting that the weather would be inclement today. It’s probably snowing at home. And I’m sure it’s icing in more places. Inconvenient to the holiday travelers.

This week I think about inconvenience.

Not the stuck in traffic or the grocery store is out of your cereal kind of inconvenience. The dramatic kind, the sort that interrupts your day or your life with news you never expected or always dreaded. The “Mary, virgin, you’re going to have a baby” sort of inconvenience.

So many times I wonder, checking the tenderness of my heart, “God, do you mean this for me? Now? This thing for this moment? Couldn’t it be later? Better? More? Less? Anything but?” Even joy feels inconvenient sometimes. I want to hang on to the apathy or fear because it feels more comfortable there, more fitting for a kid as disappointing as I am.

I think about this all week: why is virginity so important for the mother of Jesus to possess? I think all my life I have assumed that the reason for her virginity was because only purity can beget purity and this might be my Catholic heritage hanging on a bit. December 8th, my birthday, falls on the Day of Immaculate Conception I’ve always been told–perhaps I am destined to think about such things. To me, this woman in white and blue is the epitome of purity, the only picture of what God requires from those he can use.

I realize recently how contrary to the gospel that thinking is.

And I may speak heresy here, forgive me, I’m still stumbling around these truths.

I think God could have used, just as easily, a stained and worn woman, a broken and cast aside girl, someone with a story of sins a mile high, and he did. They are written there in the lineage of Jesus—Rahab and Tamar, near Leah and Bathsheba, women who strung the threads of sin into their story, who bought their impurity at the hands of deceived men.

This morning I land on this: it was not her virginity that prized Mary above them all, she who was not sinless, who had committed sins of fear and envy, disobedience and untruth. She was not holy and this was not her reward, this Inconvenient Conception. It might have been any girl in that lineage, at any time. Her child was not the reward of her purity, He was the result of the miraculous.

And this is the only reason why an impossible conception was hers.

I think about that this morning. I think about the inconvenient things, the broken things, the difficult things, the ways I have worked for honesty and purity and faith and sometimes seen no reward. I think about how God does miracles in the middle of impossible situations and surprises the world with his methods. Not as rewards (His grace is more beautiful than a system of that caliber), but as proof of His goodness.

I weep on that. As this year closes out, as I think about how faithlessly I have been and how brokenly I have lived. I think past regrettable ways I have acted and unfortunate things I have said. I process the reward I have now, this almost inconvenient peace (or at the very least, unmerited peace).

I think to myself: Thank you Father, that you do not always save the best things for the best behaved, thank you that sometimes you choose us on the merit of the miracle alone.

As always, comments are closed on Sayable.
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6 responses to The Inconvenient Virgin

  1. How has this gone a year with no comment? But it almost inspires me more. Thank you for speaking the truth not for human recognition, but to speak it back for the Lord. And also, if there were a dozen comments or so, I would never bother writing this one. Who knows if God wants you to get this notification today and reflect on this post today – an entire year later.

    Have you read A Lineage of Grace? It’s a retelling of how God wove the most unexpected stories of women like Rahab and Tamar into Jesus’ lineage.

    Today feels particularly heavy, under the weight of my own shortcomings and failures. My attitude has been poor, my temper short, my words harsh. And you’re right, peace can feel inconvenient, especially when you know it’s undeserved. I guess it’s my legalistic side that refuses to accept it when I know I haven’t earned it.

    But where will that lead me? Certainly not towards the cross, not towards the one who bore all my shame and my sin to free me from it.

    So thank you for pointing this out to me. Thank you for encouraging me to accept His miracles on a dreary Monday.

    I can’t wait to dig in and read more of your posts.

  2. Lore – and now I realize why you don’t have comments on this post! I just read through all your ‘abouts’ and facts and saw you disabled comments. I’m impressed!

    Well it is certainly nice to meet you!

  3. @lexie,

    Yup! Actually, this post had a huge number of comments when it first went up, but when I disabled comments they all disappeared, which I’m really okay with! Not sure how the comment dialogue box is still open, but I’m grateful to get your message!

    Thanks for reading!

  4. “on the merit of the miracle alone” – I love that. Just so that there is no confusion, He sovereignly chooses to work out His plan in a way that brings Him the most glory even if it makes little human sense. Thank you for this!

  5. It’s about Grace, isn’t it? Your messages resonates with the women we visit at the county jail, who feel so unworthy of salvation, of grace, even of daily help from above. We are just one decision away from where they are, and remind ourselves often that we’re candidates for His visitation merely by virtue of our need.

  6. Lore:
    I like your thoughts. Even though God does take the impure and transform it, I do like the notion of purity “begetting” purity.

    Why a virgin? I tend to think of a practical purpose: the paternity of Christ is harder to question because of it. Not impossible of course. People, even if provided with absolute evidence, still have a choice about what they believe. Still, it is more challenging with Mary as a virgin.

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