What Mary and Elizabeth can teach us about receiving a calling from God

PARIS, FRANCE – JANUARY 07: Visitation of the Virgin Mary, stained glass windows in the Saint Laurent Church, Paris, France on January 07, 2018.

After Jesus was conceived, his mother  Mary “…went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah,”[1] to stay with her cousin Elizabeth who she just had been told was 6 months pregnant.  This is significant. But more about this later. Let’s first look at Elizabeth.

She spent almost her entire married life, as a baren woman. This means that her “life would have been particularly difficult, as barrenness was usually believed to be the fault of the woman.”[2] This is not true as exemplified in how the author of Luke describes her and her husband “… they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.”[3] This all changed “ when her husband was “an old man”[4] and she was “advanced in years,”[5] and the Archangel Gabriel came to visit John (like he would visit Mary 6 months later).

He came to tell him “… “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord…”[6]

What an overwhelming joy Elizabeth must have felt when she realized that her dream had come true.  While most people would have shared the news far and wide, letting people know that they weren’t to be looked down upon anymore. Because they were pregnant, Elizabeth did the opposite. As it says in Luke “for five months she kept herself hidden…”[7]

Now back to Mary, who came to visit Elizabeth right after she herself became pregnant. And then stayed there the entire three months that Elizabeth had left of her pregnancy.

I believe that Mary and Elizabeth’s actions can teach us something about being called by God.

  • Callings have no age limit.

Mary it’s very young and Elizabeth very old. No one is outside the range of being call by God.

  • Callings are given to us from God

Mary had not previously asked for a baby, but Elizabeth had. Yet, they were both were happy about their call to motherhood.

  • Callings need to be protected

Elizabeth was used to being looked down upon before her pregnancy. So, she wisely decided the best thing to do would be to hide herself away in the early months.

This makes a lot of sense because if she made a lot of noise about being pregnant before she even started showing, I’m sure she would have faced a lot of ridicule and/or a lot of people telling her that the pregnancy wasn’t going to last. This negativity could have caused her distress, which might have made her lose her baby.

Mary left her community and went to Elizabeth where she found joy and could gain daily encouragement in the fact that Elizabeth was a living breathing example that “Nothing will be impossible with God.”

Can you even imagine all that Mary would have gone through had she stayed in her hometown? Becoming pregnant while engaged to another would not have gone over well.

From these two women we can learn that when God gives us a calling, we need to protect it, keeping it hidden until our faith can grow so big that birthing it is the only option.


[1] Luke 1:39 ESV

[2] Brandon Ridley, “Elizabeth, Mother of John the Baptist,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

[3] Luke 1:6 ESV

[4] Luke 1:18 ESV

[5] Luke 1:18 Esv

[6] Luke 1:13–15, ESV

[7] Luke 1:24, ESV

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