“Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. ‘Don’t be afraid, Mary,’ the angel told her, ‘for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus…The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.’” Luke 1:29-31,35
Am I old enough to use the phrase ‘in all my years?’ I hope so, because, in all my years of hearing these verses, I’ve never once focused on “the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” As I read it this year, the phrase seemed to step off the page, like Linus walking into the spotlight during the Peanuts Christmas play.
This week, I tried that phrase on for size. When something troubling came up, I thought, I am overshadowed by the power of the Most High. It suddenly felt like I had a big brother looking out for me, and I could be calm. I felt protected. Was it right for me to claim His overshadowing? I’m not Mary, after all. Not even close. So was it okay to imagine a snow globe of power over me?
Yes. “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty… He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” Psalm 91:1. Do you know someone who doesn’t live under the shelter of the Most High? They are raw and defensive. They have to be. They’re trying to keep it together on their own. Their souls have no rest. Praise God for the REST we have in knowing we are loved and protected.
So is it our right to claim His overshadowing power, just like Mary could?
“If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you.” Psalm 91:9,10a. It sounds like God wants us to claim it! We can choose to live in His protection by making Him the Lord of our lives. I took this protection and rest for granted for a long time. I’m so thankful for the Holy Spirit’s help to understand our rights as sons and daughters of the Most High.
And there’s the best part! Not only are we overshadowed by God’s power, we are FILLED with the Holy Spirit! “All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God.” I John 4:15. “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” Romans 8:11. I think of this now, when I look at a snow globe. Covered by His power, filled with His Spirit! How can all this goodness be ours?
“You are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21 We believe Jesus’ blood saves us. So we are brought into God’s family, forgiven, receiving His gifts.
“How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world. You hide them in the shelter of your presence, safe from those who conspire against them. You shelter them in your presence, far from accusing tongues. Praise the Lord, for he has shown me the wonders of his unfailing love.” Psalm 31:19-21a
I’m guessing Mary desperately needed God to shelter her from accusing tongues, unmarried and obviously pregnant as she was. The overshadowing power of the Most High God led Mary through a confusing, disturbing, embarrassing, lonely, and painful time. And this was because God favored her! Some people in her life may never have understood what really happened with the birth of her first child. And she didn’t choose that. Didn’t go to college for Savior-bearing. But God chose her. So He overshadowed her, too.
In a recent message, Pastor Rick taught that Emmanuel – “God with us” – goes with us through the valley of the shadow of death. If you are standing in the shadow of something scary, immovable, or sad, claim the snow globe truth for yourself: I am overshadowed by His power. I am filled with His Spirit. And every one of us needs his overshadowing and filling in order to fulfill His calling for our lives.
Mary certainly had a special calling, but the promise of God’s overshadowing power is for all who believe. So are the promises of His provision for our forgiveness (I John 1:9), holiness (Colossians 1:22), and protection (all of Psalm 91). I will never see snow globes the same way again!