One of my favorite stories during the Christmas season involve the angels who visit Mary and Joseph. They are just normal people going about their lives and God sends an angel to each of them telling them that God is going to use them in a powerful way and that they will be part of God’s plans for the world. We usually read these passages during December, but considering it takes 9 months for a baby to develop, these visits from an angel probably happened in February or early March, assuming December 25th was when Jesus was actually born. Here is the passage about the angel’s visit to Mary:
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)
I love Mary’s response – I am the Lord’s servant! Said another way, I am willing to do what you have asked me to! I think about that and I ask myself “Is that how I would respond?” Becoming pregnant before being married and being told you are carrying the Son of the Most High is pretty scary. She could have said, “pick someone else” or “I’m not good enough”, but she didn’t. Instead she responded with I am here for You to do as You plan. WOW!
I think about how this relates to my life. What is my response when God wants me to do something? Do I say that I will do whatever He wants? Or do I place limits on God by only doing what I want to do? Yes, I will do what you want – as long as it easy for me and doesn’t result in any sacrifice or loss of fun. I think I often respond with “here are my plans, now God please bless them.”
This past year has been an opportunity to live this out. I didn’t choose to lose my job and have to start over, but that was God’s plan for me. I don’t want to have to raise funds and ask others to give, but that is what God has asked us to do. I thought I knew where God wanted us to do ministry, but those doors closed. God is calling us to work with pastors and youth in Ukraine and it would be easy to say that I am not qualified or send someone else, but God calls me and I know I need to be like Mary and simply say “I am the Lord’s servant” and go!
What about you? What is God asking you to do? What is your response to His call? What sacrifice is he asking you to make? I am learning that when God asks you to do something there is always a sacrifice involved, but is that a bad thing? Often what seems like a sacrifice is often really just a comfort or wanting to be in control. I often think giving up what I have is a sacrifice, but in reality, a sacrifice is often giving what you don’t have. It is saying yes to doing something even when you don’t know how you will pay for it or find the resources to do it. It is saying yes even when you don’t feel qualified or good enough. It is letting go of control and doing what does not come easy.
During this Christmas season as you hear the Christmas story and reflect on Jesus’s birth, remember back to Mary’s response and ask yourself what does God want you to give to Him this Christmas? What will your response be when God wants to use you?