Advent Week 4: LOVE


Written by: Helen Burns

Years ago, I stood on the platform of a great church in Australia about to teach a room full of Bible College students who had gathered to study from many nations of the world. I felt the weight, the honour and the responsibility of this opportunity and I didn’t take it lightly. In the moments just before I stepped onto the stage I sensed the whisper of the Holy Spirit saying, ‘You didn’t get here on your own.’

That moment grounded and affirmed what I knew so well – I was standing on the shoulders of great men and women of faith that had invested a lifetime of faithfulness to God and prayer into my life. I have learned through the lives of my parents and grandparents and many others how to love and trust Jesus. Though they never stood on platforms with a microphone in their hands, their love, investment and example prepared me to.

Take a look and see the people that God has brought or is bringing into your life, as they are a picture of your future. These connections are an expression of the love that we need from each other to do the good work we have been called to do. God is always at work, divinely connecting you with others in love for His purpose.

One of my favourite stories of divine connection is found in Luke 1, a story that we tend to read often as we prepare for Christmas. I am so drawn to the beautiful relationship that existed between Elizabeth and Mary. There is so much to wisdom to glean from their divinely connected lives:

Two divinely connected individuals – all for a purpose greater than what they could have ever dreamed or imagined.

Two women who loved God and loved each other, and used their lives to serve His greater purpose.

Two women, both pregnant miraculously (one past child-bearing years and barren; one young and a virgin). 

Two divine angelic visitations.

Two women who were chosen to raise sons who would change the world – Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, the Son of God.

Two women who sang the prophetic song of their hearts over each other:

At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honoured, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”
(Elizabeth’s song, Luke 1:41-45 NLT)        

“My soul chooses to glorify the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for He is always mindful of me and my situation…
The Mighty One has done great things for me…holy is His name.
I’m bursting with God-news. He came and rescued me, 
Declaring me His favoured one, beautiful inside and out.
His mercy flows in wave after wave to all those who are in awe before him,
From generation to generation.

What God has done for me will never be forgotten
He continues to fill my hungry soul with good things.
He has helped me, His servant; He remains merciful to me even as he promised.
Therefore today—and tomorrow, I stand quiet before Him, 
I stand still; I know that He is God.” 
(Mary’s song, Luke 1:46-55; paraphrase)

Mary needed Elizabeth - someone who she could trust completely to help nurture the enormous God-assignment on her life. I can’t imagine what it would have felt like to be Mary who, at such a young and tender age, accepted the responsibility to carry God into this world – literally!

Elizabeth also needed Mary - someone she could pour her life into. Elizabeth had believed God for the promised Messiah, and now she would use her love, her wisdom and strength to lend toward the fulfilment of a long-awaited promise for her people.

We need each other, especially in these exciting and prophetic days that we have been chosen and called to live in. This is why I so strongly believing in the mandate and mission of Gather Women. It exists for the very purpose of bringing women together, to connect them, equip them and champion them.

We are so much better together. Let’s choose to be Mary’s and Elizabeth’s in the lives of one another and help fuel the God-dreams, the visions and callings in each other. This expression of our love is so needed in a world where women are often told to compete against each other, instead of with each other.

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NLT)

Who is your Mary? Who is your Elizabeth?