Mary was busy minding God’s business as best she could when an angel showed up in the middle of that business and announced her next assignment. “You will carry the Son of God,” was the gist of it. A shocker it surely was. How does one prepare for such a life-altering mission?
In Mary’s case, she trusted that God had prepared her and she said “yes” with faith that He would carry her through, giving her everything she needed to fulfill the role He was giving her. It was overwhelming, no doubt–but she harnessed her trust on the grace she had come to know was there in everything that God did in the lives of His people.
In some ways, though, I think saying “yes” was the easiest part of this new arrangement for Mary. It was the steadfast commitment to living consistent with that “yes” which was surely the hard part. Once the words, “Let it be to me according to your word,” crossed her lips, her fate was sealed, but the frustrations she would experience along the way were just about to begin.
I wonder if one of the greatest frustrations she dealt with following the angel’s departure was the niggling temptation that Satan first used to subvert the destiny of Eve: “You need to know that what you don’t have is so much better than what you do have.”¹
Have you thought about what Mary had to say “no” to in order to say “yes” to her Lord? I imagine that just a few of the items on the list would have included: “no” to protecting her reputation as a virgin, “no” to insulating her life from rumors, “no” to her own ideas of marriage and family, “no” to having peace apart from its Prince.
She got so much in the deal of bearing the Son of God and nurturing Him through till adulthood, but there were other things that, by necessity, could not be part of the deal–things I’m sure she would have liked. Things most of her friends probably enjoyed without a second thought. But, for her, the plan was different. God was at work in her life and He was using her as a key figure in executing His redemption of mankind.
How quickly she must have realized that she could not spend her time lamenting what she did not have and still be able to pour her heart and soul into supporting the glory of what God was doing. Because God had chosen exactly what was suited to her in His agenda, she needed to fix her attention on what God had given her: namely, the singular privilege of being so closely united with the Savior, Christ.
I have a lot to learn from Mary. I can often forget what God has given me–with all its spectacular originality–because I worry about the little things that He hasn’t given me. I can become particularly hung up on the things that He may yet have for me, but has not placed in my life so far. I worry about what He’s doing and doubt what He’s thinking.
By God’s grace, I eventually get to the place of saying–once again–“Do with me as you wish,” but I long to be more mindful of the reason Mary could say this. Her consent to the the calling God laid upon her was a sacrifice she was able to offer with praise because her first understanding was this: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord.” This recognition brought everything else into perspective.
How could she believe that God was doing anything that amounted to ruining her life when she knew that He was her Master? Whatever He chose for her would be fitting–would prove to be beneficial–because He was the One who held both the authority and responsibility for her life. Anything He chose would be good–even the best–because He had every reason to look out for the welfare of the one He specifically selected for His plan.
¹: A question taken from The Life Ready Woman: Thriving in a Do-It-All World by Shaunti Feldhahn & Robert Lewis