The first day of the advent bible plan I am doing via You Version led me to Luke 1:26-38. It’s a story I am very familiar with: the angel Gabriel visiting Mary to inform her she has been chosen by God to carry and give birth to His only son. Growing up, I loved Christmas-time in the Catholic Church. The readings were always the same, recounting the story of Jesus’s birth. Even though I have read and heard these words countless times, this season the words sprung out at me. God is speaking to me through the advent readings. He has me examining the words and trying to relate them to my life.
“The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’ Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.” — Luke 1:28-29 (NIV)
First of all, can you imagine actually encountering an angel? A vision in front of you, so there is no denying that God is trying to talk to you? Personally, it’s taken me a year of pretty dedicated studying to finally realize that gut feeling I often have is God speaking to me. And if I’m speaking honestly, it can be easy to ignore that feeling. No, I don’t want to do that. No, I’m not equipped to do that. Are you crazy? Do what? Or sometimes I’ll ignore what I know God wants me to do by convincing myself it’s not really God talking to me. How do you deny an actual angel, though? I think my reaction would be very similar to Mary’s – wondering what I have done to have God send a personal messenger to me directly.
“But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” — Luke 1:30-33 (NIV)
I’m nearly speechless writing these words. I’m trying to put myself in Mary’s shoes, and hearing this angel tell me that I will give birth to God’s son. When I read this verse, I think back to Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” I love, love that verse. I cannot imagine what Mary must have been thinking hearing that she was the chosen woman. Knowing that she has found favor with God – just an ordinary woman.
The Good News, friend? We are all chosen women. God chose us all, and we each have an individual, unique roll in God’s Kingdom!
“‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ — Luke 1:34 (NIV)
I admittedly don’t know much about Mary, and didn’t research before I sat down to write this. So I don’t know if Mary wasn’t familiar with the prophecies of the Savior’s virgin birth, or just didn’t believe God had chosen her. Disbelief would be my reaction. Disbelief that God would use such an ordinary, unassuming woman for such an amazing, powerful event. Literally LIFE CHANGING. She would carry and birth the SON OF GOD. I, just, wow. I really have no words. Think about that for a minute.
“The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. FOR NO WORD FROM GOD WILL EVER FAIL.'” — Luke 1:35-37 (NIV, my emphasis)
I obviously emphasized that last verse. What an amazing reminder for her, and for all of us. God’s word will NEVER fail. Even if the outlook is bleak and you are in the middle of a storm you don’t feel will end, God’s word will NEVER FAIL. These words must have resonated with Mary, because her response is the verse I led with. Let us always remember these words. They are as true for us as they were for Mary. Nothing is impossible for God.
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. — Luke 1:38 (NIV)
Maybe you already have faith like Mary. I certainly don’t. Not once did she question God’s purpose. Despite living in a time when no one would believe she was truly a virgin, and being pregnant out of wedlock was dangerous, she submitted to God. The message version of this verse says, “I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.” Ready to serve. Sure, I am ready to serve…if it’s something I am comfortable with. Sure, I’m willing to serve…if I feel like God is calling me to do something I already enjoy. Do you think Mary was within her comfort zone? Yet she didn’t question or doubt – she submitted.
Mary’s story resonates with me in this season of my life (I stole that phrase from my wonderful women’s group friends, I’ve heard them say it and I love it). I don’t know why, just yet, but God has just put so much on my heart to think about regarding Mary and the birth of Jesus. I would love to have faith like Mary, to submit to God’s calling without questioning why or doubting Him. I also know it’s a very hard thing to do, though it shouldn’t be. I pray for God to use me to reach people, for Him to use me for His will. I do hope that writing does help someone, reaches someone, who needs to hear it. But how much more could He use me, if I truly opened my heart to Him and blindly followed Him wherever He took me? It’s a scary thought to me, because I am sooo comfortable in my nice little zone. I’m sure Mary was, too.
Obedience is often uncomfortable. We like our comfort zone! I wrote about this topic here.