Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What We Can Learn From Mary's "Yes"

Happy Feast Day of the Annunciation! On this day, 9 months before Christmas, we celebrate the day that the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would be the Mother of God:

Luke 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said,“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her,“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel,“How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be bornwill be called holy, the Son of God.And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

I find so many things about this amazing. God did not NEED Mary to carry out His plan of salvation for mankind. But, in His infinite wisdom, he chose her, a peasant woman, to carry His Son in her womb and to raise Him on Earth. She began Jesus' life as a poor carpenter's son, teaching us to not focus on material things.

The most profound thing I find about this passage, though, is the fact that God did not force this on Mary. Out of respect for our free will, He asked her. God's plan of salvation was dependent on a 14-year-old* girl's "yes." 

*it is debated as to exactly how old Mary was when she became pregnant with Jesus. I don't have an opinion on this matter. I just chose 14 years old as an average.

Um...what would you do??? I don't know about you, but I have a hard enough time saying "yes" when God wants me to let someone go in front of me in line at Chick-Fil-A. What if I were in Mary's place? "Oh hey 14-year-old Ashley, quick question for ya: do you mind becoming God's mother so I can make the word become flesh? I know you're not married and it will cause huge scandal and you could possibly get stoned to death and you will have to one day watch your son die on a cross so that He can save the souls of all mankind...but just a small favor? Maybe after you finish watching Boy Meets World? K thanx bye."

Now, I am not sinless as Mary was. So...OBVIOUSLY instead of immediately replying "May it be done to me according to your word", I might have needed a few minutes to think about it (just a few). 

How many times in my life has God had a plan for me, and I flat out refused His will? Well...that's what sin is. So...perhaps five times. (Just kidding. I think I've sinned seven times in my life). How scary is it to say "God, let Your will be done." Regardless of what I think about it. To me, that's terrifying. Why? Because that is totally and completely surrendering myself to Him. I am giving up all control. I am trusting Him fully.

Scary? Yes. Will we always do this perfectly? No. But we can look to Mary as an example of what it means to live in this way. Ask for her help. She understands what it means to say "yes" to God, even when it's scary. Notice that even she questioned God: "But how can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" It's okay to question and to be scared. But I can say with absolute certainty that every time in my life when I have allowed God to take control, it has always turned out in the best way. Does that mean I always thought it was the best way at the time? No. In fact, there have been times when I've been downright angry with God. But looking back, I realize that He really, really does know what He's doing.

Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.

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