mantle: Mary’s covering and our own God-given calling

mantle - the virgin mary @poetryjoy.com

Mantle is a quaint, rarely used word that still has relevance for us today. As well as being a literal coat or cloak, mantle also means the passing on of an important role or responsibility from person to person.

In a biblical sense, mantle can imply a covering of grace, a specific calling on our lives, as in Elijah’s prophetic mantle falling onto Elisha in a literal and metaphorical handing over of his cloak and anointing.

“So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him.” – 1 Kings 19:19 (NKJV)

Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was cloaked and enveloped by God’s grace. She was overshadowed by Holy Spirit for the pivotal role she would play in bringing about God’s purposes on earth.

mantle - Mary's covering and our own God-given calling @poetryjoy.com

Mary’s mantle

Her charisma,
a divinely conferred
gift, was pure, bright,
a vibrant inner light
to bathe heaven’s child.

Her character brooked
choice of none other
for she was resilient,
demure and mild.

A willing and yielded
obedient servant,
a fledgling woman,
youthful, innocent,
betrothed while still a teen.

Whose womb was home,
whose heart was rent,
who hosted holiness
quietly and unseen.

A young woman
full of divine favour,
subject to rejection
and society’s reproach
for her great faithfulness
to Father God.

Became chosen
earthly mother
for our Saviour,
to give him birth
and spread his love abroad.
© joylenton

mantle - mary's mantle poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

How does Mary’s mantle relate to us? I think it shows that God always prepares people for the specific tasks He has appointed them to do. God fully anoints, equips and qualifies us for everything He calls us to.

Years ago, my major responsibilities were as nurse, wife and mother. Then I developed M.E and chronic illness which made it impossible to work and fully take care of myself, never mind the home and family. My perceptions of role, calling and identity shifted to meet my limitations and reduced expectations.

I am still sick and struggle with tasks, but my calling has morphed into being a writer, poet and encourager to others. Those gifts lay dormant for years but God resurrected them at just the right time.

God never forgets the mantle He has chosen to place over us. Mine might look very different to yours, because we all have a unique offering to bring to the world. One thing I have learnt: Our inner landscape can be vast, unlimited and rich even if our physical capabilities shrink.

mantle - Our inner landscape quote (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

This Advent, as you sit with hope and wait with increasing longing in your heart, try asking God what His desires are for you in the year ahead. What assignment has your name on it? What is He birthing in your soul? Is there a specific word that will define 2019 for you?

I’m currently hearing a call to rest myself more and lay aside my pen for a while. So I am taking a writing break until early January. May God bless you and keep you in His loving care until we meet again. Meanwhile, you can catch up with the poetic Art of Advent series profiling on my Words of Joy blog. 🙂

mantle - advent - trees - wreath - Christmas greetings (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

15 thoughts on “mantle: Mary’s covering and our own God-given calling

  1. Thank you for this hope-filled encouragement, Joy. I’m in another exacerbation, and I’m not feeling so well. The doc put me on Prednisone, starting with a higher dose this time. I get so discouraged and am fighting God’s plan, but His whispers tell me that if I long to give my heart more fully to Him, I also have to trust His process. I’m trying to grasp the truth that His mantle of grace still covers me. Thank you! I pray God gives you rest in every way. May the love and joy of Jesus being born for us fill your heart and soul!

    • Dear Trudy, I’m so sorry to hear how you are suffering a lot physically again with your usual winter ailments. They certainly pull us down emotionally. Waiting for healing and recovery is hard but it’s also a positive thing to do while we trust God to act on our behalf. Yes, my friend, you ARE covered by His mantle of mercy and grace. God wraps you round with arms of love, not judgement for feeling poorly. May you soon feel much stronger and have relief from the symptoms you are experiencing now. I’m praying you can rest and be healed in every place where you need a tender touch from the Lord. Love and hugs! xo 💜

  2. Dear Joy,
    Thank you for sharing from the wells of comfort that Jesus has brought into your life. He truly does have purpose for each season, even if those purposes do not set well with my own way of wishing. And, as hard as it is, I am so glad that He isn’t swayed by my “wishing,” but instead sees the deep heart longings that He planted within us. Just as Mary’s deep heart yielded to His desires, I pray that my deep heart would yield and move along with His ways. These lines are so beautiful:
    “Whose womb was home,
    whose heart was rent,
    who hosted holiness
    quietly and unseen.”
    Yes, Lord, have Your way in my heart. I pray that you are blessed with such a sweet time of resting over these days before Christmas and the New Year. I am so thankful for your friendship! Blessings, love, and hugs to you! xoxo

    • Dear Bettie, I know you fully understand the way a life can get shifted by unforseen and unwanted circumstances that appear to limit us and shrink our world. And they do, often greatly. Yet as we learn to live a life we hadn’t planned to and adapt to changes in our health and home, we begin to open up to God in new and often desperate ways.
      Those “heart longings” and the natural aptitude for ministry you have are now being chanelled on your blog. As you write out your heart and share the chronic illness journey you are on, you are reaching, inspiring, teaching and encouraging souls far more than you may know. May God continue to have His way in our hearts and lives and empower us for all that lies ahead. May we both complete the essentials and then rest ourselves well in order to savour Christmas with our families. I am so very thankful for your friendship as well! Blessings, love, hugs and ongoing prayers for healing, pain relief and strengthening. xoxo 💜

    • Dear Michael, the same thanks are extended to you for your gracious company here and sweet sharing of my words throughout the year. Rich blessings on your Sabbath, Advent and Christmas, my friend. May God give you sufficient energy and strength to see this season through to its beautiful climax, and grace enough to restore, renew and refresh you in every way, while you faithfully serve and worship Him. Bless you, Brother! 💜❤

  3. Such encouraging thoughts, Joy! And I love your poem. So beautiful. This stanza stood out to me:
    “A young woman
    full of divine favour,
    subject to rejection
    and society’s reproach
    for her great faithfulness
    to Father God.”
    Sometimes we will be rejected for our faithfulness to God, but never rejected by God. We can rest in Him and not worry when others reject us. Blessings and love to you, dear sister! May you have a wonderful Christmas with your family! xoxo

    • Dear Gayl, I love the important distinction you have made between being rejected by the world for our faith in Christ, yet never being rejected by God. That’s such a reassuring thought, isn’t it? And knowing we are accepted and loved beyond measure helps us to rest and relax. I’m glad you like the poem! Blessings, love and hugs to you! May your blessing be true for you too. xoxo 😊💜

    • How sweet of you to encourage me so kindly! Thank you. I’ve also written a poem about the Annunciation but didn’t get round to sharing it here. And another about the role of Joseph, which will air on my other site – wordsofjoy.me – next week. It has always intrigued me to consider these major players in the Nativity as highly favoured yet ordinary humble folk, rather like you and me. I am glad you were blessed here, my friend! 😊

  4. I love the idea that God anoints and asks us to fulfill his calling, and I’m not surprised that he has called you to do the kind of work you are doing here. When you speak of the vast vistas before you even while limited in mobility, I’m reminded of Emily Dickinsons’ life–her reach was so vast and she blessed so many from the sanctuary of her home, rarely venturing out, yet the whole universe shone through her verses. A wonderful and blessed new year to you. I’ll look forward to your return.

    • It is a marvel, isn’t it, Deborah? We’re apt to rule ourselves out because of our insufficiency and lack. But God sees potential in us all and knows just how He can work in and through hearts willingly surrendered to Him. I love how beautifully you describe Emily Dickinson’s life, work and words as “the whole universe shone through her verses.” Her life and work amounted to far more than she might have known or imagined. It gives us poets/writers hope that we too will leave a lasting legacy and a testimony to grace at work within. I hope to get back to writing here in a week or so. It is also my heart’s desire, hope and prayer to publish another poetry book (or more) this year, God willing. It would be wonderful if it happens! May your year ahead hold blessings of love, joy and peace, inspired creative expression, pleasurable pursuits, artistic beauty and deep soul fulfilment and contentment. I look forward to reconnecting with you soon, my friend! 😊💜

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