In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:26-28)
It’s likely that Mary worked exclusively inside the home as a wife and mother. What can her vocation tell us about our own? At least three things.
First, God sees you and your work, even when the world doesn’t. Mary was a peasant teenage girl living in a backwater town. We don’t know what work she was doing before Gabriel showed up, but we can be certain it was obscure. Mary was the anti-influencer. Nobody knew her name. Nobody, that is, except God.
God saw Mary’s faithfulness when nobody else did, and for that, she was “highly favored” in his eyes. This reminds us that even when we work in obscurity—as parents, middle-managers, or struggling artists—the God of the universe “will not forget your work” (Hebrews 6:10). He sees it and will one day “reward each person according to what they have done” (Matthew 16:27).
Second, Mary reminds us that God gives great dignity to the work of parenting. In Western culture today, work inside the home is often seen as less difficult, important, and appealing than work outside the home. And yet, in God’s Word, we see an entirely different perspective. In both Matthew and Luke’s accounts of the Christmas story, the work of parenting takes center stage. Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, and Zechariah show us that the work that mothers and fathers do outside and inside the home is of the utmost importance to God.
Finally, Mary shows us that parenting is one of our most unique callings. I hate when people say, “God first, family second, work third!” Why? Because Scripture never ranks callings in order of importance. It’s God first, and everything else second.
That said, if you have children, parenting is one of your most unique callings. Mary was the only person Gabriel called to mother Jesus. Similarly, God has chosen me alone to father my kids, but he can choose anyone to do the work I do at my laptop. That doesn’t mean my calling as a parent is more important than the call to write these devotionals. But it is far more unique. Thus, I need to be just as, if not more, intentional about the work I do inside the home as the work I do outside of it.
If you’re a parent like me, I pray that Mary’s example would encourage you that even the unseen work of parenting is seen by God and dignified, and thus, deserves great intentionality and devotion.