“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38 (AMP)
Who is this young woman who says, “Yes,” to God and serves Him with a steadfast heart, even though life takes her into unexpected territory? When I ponder the life of Mary, mother of Jesus, I am astounded by the strength of character that she exhibits at such a young age. Think about the confidence she reveals in her conversation with the angel Gabriel who arrives out of nowhere to tell her that she is going to become pregnant and bear God’s Son. What?
That ranks up there with “the most outrageous thing that happened to me today!”
When I read this gospel account of Mary’s encounter with Gabriel, I put myself in Mary’s shoes with some difficulty – this is definitely a Cinderella-and-the-glass-slipper moment. As I try to squeeze my bulging foot into the dainty glass slipper, I have to admit that it is not a good fit.
Here’s the honest truth: when a Word of God conflicts directly with my current circumstances, my gut reaction is to disbelieve God. Of course, I have not yet encountered Gabriel — perhaps that makes it easier to believe a Word. However, I suspect that even if I encountered a brilliant angel, I would still doubt.
Besides, Gabriel was not exactly bringing good news. Mary, a betrothed but not-yet-married young lady, had no business being pregnant. When I remember back to my formative years in a good Bible-believing church, getting pregnant before marriage was the kiss of death. “Anything but that,” I perceived in the youth-group teaching, even though no one used those exact words.
Mary receives this “good news” with some surprise. The scriptures say that she is troubled, and wonders what mysterious message this angel delivers. I am gratified to note that before Mary utters her famous statement of agreement, she does ask Gabriel to explain how her pregnancy can be possible since she is a virgin.
She listens attentively to his explanation, and then responds, “Yes, let’s do this.” What powerful inner strength gives her an unshakable confidence in her God when He makes such a shocking proposal? Surely Mary knows that being in covenant with God is the only way to find safety and security in her life, even if His offer seems outlandish to her human wisdom:
“Human wisdom is so tiny, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God. Human strength can’t begin to compete with God’s ‘weakness.'” (I Corinthians 1:25, The Message)
This true servant knows deep in her heart that life is gained by losing it. God has overcome the world (John 16:33), and yet His overcoming power shows up in our lives only to the degree that we are yielded to Him. We have a free will, and God respects our right to choose. He will not overpower us with His invitation to follow Him (Revelation 3:20).
He longs for us to lay down our lives willingly, to give up our rights and our plans; however, the choice is ours. Jesus offers tough truth to His disciples, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:25
This is pure gospel grit, and it comes with a question: what needs to give way in your heart for you to lose your life for the sake of Christ? As we ponder such life-altering questions, Mary becomes more startlingly impressive by the minute.
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Join us in our study and devotional Steadfast: Cultivating a Heart Like Mary to discover how you too can say “Yes” with fearless confidence.