Christmas: What Mary Teaches Us About Trust
‘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 the word of God will never fail.” Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”’ (Luke 1:35-38, NLT)
Maybe it’s a little cliché, but I think this passage of the Christmas story is my favorite. Whenever I read it, I can’t help but feel such wonder for the moment. Mary, a young Nazarene girl goes from unseen and simple to the living proof of God’s amazing power and love.
Just imagine: This girl was living an ordinary life in a very unassuming corner of the world. She woke
up, just like any morning. She went about her day just the same as she always would. The sun still rose, the world still turned, yet she had no idea that her life was about to change so radically. She woke up as just a girl from Nazareth, but by the end of that pivotal day, she realized that she was a woman that was very much intended and included in God’s master plan to save His creation.
To me, Mary is a constant reminder that the Lord is always working, even when we don’t feel Him or see Him at work. The fact of the matter is, from the moment Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the garden, God was laying generations of groundwork to make Mary possible. He was building a beautiful bloodline to birth His son out of. He was masterfully creating the exact moment– the exact circumstances– where Jesus could be conceived of a virgin; an impossible feat at a truly impossible time.
And yet, while Mary was going about her day, she unknowingly stepped right into the very role that the Lord created her for: to be the mother of His Son. Suddenly, the angel Gabriel appeared and told her about how the Lord chose her. The Bible never tells us that Mary had any inkling that this would happen– no prophecy telling her that God favored her so passionately, no relative or church elder telling her that the Lord was preparing her for a heavy call or for a specific cause.
Instead, Gabriel tells her how God chose her to be the woman to conceive, carry, and raise Jesus, the one to save the world from their sin. And because God funds His own plans, there was already protection factored into the deal. The Holy Spirit would overshadow her, holding her through all the trials on the horizon that she couldn’t yet see: her doubtful fiancé, giving birth in a stable, living life on the run from insecure kings, and watching her Son die on a cross.
Through all that, God promised to protect her, come what may. All she had to do was say yes to His plan. All she had to do was yield to His will. And without any kind of preparation or a moment's hesitation, without any coaching or counsel, Mary put all her trust in God and said yes. She accepted this impossible task of raising God incarnate, despite all the heartbreak it would most likely cost her. She trusted that God would stay true to His word and carry her through, facing the looming thought of being pregnant before marriage in a day and culture that was far less welcoming to that idea than we could imagine.
The fact is, Mary could have chosen doubt. She could have said no. In fact, just verses before, Zechariah, Mary’s own family by marriage, doubted that God could birth a family out of his elderly, barren wife, Elizabeth.
‘Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”’ (Luke 1:18-20, NIV)
Think about it: sometimes, we’re Zechariah. Sometimes, when the Lord provides or speaks over something we struggle to grasp in our own understanding, our automatic reaction is doubt. Our mind automatically answers, “How could this be?” We overthink and dream up all the ways His plan is dangerous or impossible or outrageous, when all God needs to know is if we trust Him to come through.
For Zechariah, doubt came so naturally that he still had questions, even in the presence of an angel. And unfortunately, the same would be true for most of us in the same position.
So my encouragement is two-fold today. First, I encourage you to always be prepared for what God may need from you at any time. Who knows? Today, of all days, may be your chance. Sure, you woke up, poured your morning coffee, and hustled out the door to tackle today’s to-do list, but your life could change in a second. All of heaven and earth may be looking at you today in anticipation of the call you’re about to step into. So be prepared for even the most improbable of propositions. Be ready for whatever the Lord may choose you to complete for Him.
And my other encouragement is this: Should today be your moment of truth, trust in the fact that no matter what He may ask of you, Jesus will always protect you to complete it. The Holy Spirit, himself, will be your covering. Can I promise that it’s going to be a painless journey? No, I can’t. You will probably run into people and things that will test you and the task that the Lord has given you, but take heart in the fact that God is watching every footstep, every word, and every bump in the road.
He is more than capable enough to take you through and honor your yes.
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