Here Be (no) Monsters
[Part 2, Chapter 12]
In ancient times, uncharted territory was sometimes referred to as the place of monsters or dragons.
Perhaps modern life is no different.
Scully: On the old mariner maps, the cartographers would designate unexplored territories by simply writing, “Here Be Monsters”.
Mulder: I’ve seen the same thing on maps of New York City.
(The X-Files, Quagmire)
Mary was off into uncharted territory. How can I be pregnant? I’m a virgin. What’s going on here?
Along with fear, there would have been confusion. What is going to happen? What will people say? How will things turn out? How will Joseph respond?
For most of us, it would be the place of monsters.
The unknown can sometimes be like that.
The angel then gives Mary the following explanation. How comforting would you have found this?
- This is going to happen through someone called the Holy Spirit.
- You’re going to be covered in God’s power.
- The child you’ll give birth to will be holy.
- He will be called the Son of God.
- Oh, by the way, to show you this kind of stuff can happen, your cousin Elizabeth (the old one, who everyone said was way past the age of childbirth), well, she is pregnant.
To be sure, here be monsters!
One ancient explorer, when asked how he discovered the new land, responded, “We travelled beyond the map.”
Christopher Columbus said, “You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
Mary leaves the shore, steps off the map, and, through her reply, heads into what surely must be monster territory:
“Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:38)
Monster territory … and alone.
Except, Mary has favour. Mary has presence. Mary has greetings from the throne room. Mary has had her fear dissipated. She has been met with acceptance. Assured of adoption.
New territory is only uncharted if no one has ever mapped it before. When the bible says we walk by faith and not by sight it is not saying we are walking blindly into an abyss. We are walking into what Father already sees, knows, and has established before us.
Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
That’s your response when you travel into monster territory.
When you don’t feel as if you’ve been good enough for favour, when you presume you have to earn Father’s affection, when you operate on fairness in place of favour, when you live by guilt and shame instead of freedom and forgiveness, you pull out the map. You see the favour before you, and in faith declare: ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’