How might you respond if someone told you your direction was about to change and you had no choice in the matter? They informed you that a powerful person had something important for you to do. It would involve significant hardship for you immediately and throughout your life. Yet this important calling would bring good to many other people for a long time.
If that happened to me, I would likely respond by asking a whole bunch of questions. What do you mean specifically by hardships? How does it fit into my plans? How does it align with my goals? What about my dreams and hopes for my life?
Yet something like this happened. The person responded in a dramatically different way than I would. She said – “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be to me according to your word.” Mary was betrothed to Joseph. A betrothal was a legal obligation in those days, just like marriage today. She must have had thoughts and dreams about a future with Joseph raising their kids together.
Then the angel Gabriel shows up. He tells Mary that God favors her. She will bear a son and call his name Jesus. He would be great and Son o of the Most High. Mary does not understand since she is a virgin. Gabriel informs her that the Holy Spirit will miraculously cause this conception. The Lord has already done a great work in Mary’s relative Elizabeth who was past child bearing age. Yet she now was in her sixth month of pregnancy.
This news turns Mary’s plans upside down. Her dream of an honorable marriage celebration in her home town are likely gone. Many people would doubt her story. What about her parents? What about Joseph? Yet she responds like this. “Behold, I am the bondservant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38).
I marvel at the strength and faith of this woman. God knew what He was doing in selecting her. Here was someone who had enough faith in the Lord that she would accept His readjustment of her life plans to fit His glorious purposes.
This approach offends an individualistic, self-determining, “do whatever you want with your life” attitude. Yet through Mary’s willingness, God brought salvation to the world. Our struggle with this might stem from our lack of faith in the Lord. We may think we’re the only ones who know what’s good for us or what we should do. The Lord knows us better. When He calls or directs us in a way we had not planned, we must grow in trusting His commitment to His good purposes for us and others.
“Lord help us to grow in trusting you. Forgive us when we become stiff-necked, refusing to bow our head to Your leading. Help us believe more readily the promise of Romans 8:28 – “And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good.”