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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

No Hesitation

“Let it be according to your will,” said Mary to Gabriel the angel, when he visited her with the news that she would be the mother of the Son of God.  I was not there when this scene went down, but it seems to me that Mary did not hesitate to say “Well, okay then” to Gabriel, once he had answered her question of how this could be possible logistically since she was a virgin.

Yeah, yeah.  Mary did not say “Well, okay then.” My Bible translation says she said, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants.  May everything you have said come true” (Luke 1:38, NLT).

But the feeling is there.  Mary knew that she would be used by God for something big.  Later we see that she was so excited about her pregnancy that she sang a little impromptu song praising God (v. 46-55).  And after Jesus was born, the stories from the shepherds who had been visited by an angel announcing Christ’s birth were noted by Mary, and she “quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often” (v. 19). 

She knew she was being used by God for something amazing, and she kept all these feelings close to her heart.  She identified closely with this appointment, and claimed it readily and often.

Mary did not hesitate because she knew clearly that God needed her to do something extraordinary.  She didn’t even have to do anything – God took care of all of it, right down to providing a place for her baby to be born on a night when all hope seemed lost.  Mary didn’t hesitate from the start, even when she wasn’t yet married and a pregnancy could well have meant that her life was about to go into the toilet.  In that day unmarried women who became pregnant were likely to remain unmarried and sometimes had to make a living by begging or prostitution.

Mary is an inspiration to me all the time, but especially at Christmas, when she shares the spotlight with her divine Son.  Her faith led her to great things, a role unmatched by any other: the mother of the Son of God.  Her life is an example of who God wants us to be – open to him, ready to take on any challenge that he equips us to handle.

Too often when presented with an opportunity to serve God, I hesitate.  I say “no” readily, only to miss the chance to serve him, to grow in his love.  God gives us chances to do for him what we would not (or could not) think of doing, either for ourselves or for others.  Our short-sighted nature is so far from God’s eternal view and our part in it.  I have missed opportunities because of my hesitation.  Ever faithful, God keeps presenting them to me.

I need to remember that God’s requests are to be taken seriously – they are designed to change lives, and always for the better.  In Mary’s case, God’s request changed the entire destiny of humanity.  He wanted her to bear a son who was destined to take on all the sins of the world so that all of us could live in God’s Kingdom forever.

Likely God is not going to ask me to do something so remarkable.  Probably not you, either.  But he is asking us to be open to his will; all he asks is that we say “yes” to the divine appointments that come our way, no matter what they are.  To not hesitate.

Well, okay then. 




*******

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David.  Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

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.  He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.  And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

The angel replied, “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.  What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month.  For nothing is impossible with God.”

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.

Luke 1:26-38 (NLT)

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