How many of us are prepared give up our hopes and dreams to follow God’s plan? How many of us are prepared to walk away from the path we are currently on to walk instead on the path the Lord calls us to? This path may include struggle, suffering, perhaps even disgrace. Are we prepared to walk this path?
Mary was a no-body living in a no-place part of the world.
She was a 14-year-old girl faced with a choice. I’m sure she had her own hopes and dreams for life. But all of that changed when she met the angel Gabriel and heard God’s plan for her future.
This young woman was told by an angel that she will play a unique role in salvation history for her people and for the whole world. She will bear a child (out of wedlock) and he will be the Son of God. Heady stuff for a teenager.
But Mary has a choice in the matter. She has free will. This is not forced on her by God.
How many women in Mary’s time had the freedom to make their own choices? How many women were given that level of respect by their families or their communities? Mary had just been betrothed to Joseph, a decision not her own.
But God gave her a choice. And Mary said, “yes.”
Mary is the perfect model for how we should live our lives as disciples of Christ.
Seattle Bishop Daniel Mueggenborg said this about today’s Gospel passage:
“What made Mary great and what makes us great is not the world in which we live or our own call to fame (or fortune or power), but rather God’s invitation and action in our lives.
The Gospel is about God and not about us. It’s about what God can do and not what we can do.”
God’s path for our lives is not forced on any of us. God’ has given each of us a choice to follow God’s plan. We each experience our own annunciations in this life. Our faith encourages us to develop ears to hear while keeping our hearts attuned to Christ. And we must have the courage to act on God’s call in our lives.
“That is the dilemma of discipleship. God graces us with talents, possibilities, opportunities, skills, and other blessings for a reason – namely to accomplish a divinely intended mission in the world. Our of respect for our free will, God first asks our permission to use our lives.”
What lessons can we learn from Mary on following the voice of God?
I found this humble offering and would like to share it with you. A shout out to author Marci Ferrell. It is entitled –
Ten Lessons God's Word teaches us through the life of Mary:
1. Mary knew God's Word. In the time Mary lived she was probably illiterate, but she had heard the Word of God and kept it hidden in her heart. How well do we know God's Word? Are we able to speak the Words of His truth to others? Is our time in the Word an important part of our day?
2. Mary was filled with the Spirit. As believers, we have the Holy Spirit working in us, and there is nothing we can accomplish for God outside the power of the Holy Spirit. Do we tap into the power of the Spirit, or do we rely on our strength to get through difficult situations and trials?
3. Mary said “yes” to God's plan for her life. She had an obedient, submissive, and a humble heart. Are we willing to say, “yes Lord,” to whatever task Jesus calls us?
4. Mary was quiet before the Lord and meditated on all He had done in her life. How often are we truly quiet before the Lord, just pondering on what God has done and is doing in our lives? Do we take the time to meditate on God’s Word?
5. Mary turned to Jesus for help when she had a problem to be solved. When a problem arises where do we turn to first for guidance? Do we seek Christ or turn to others? Do we spend time worrying? Do we point others toward Christ?
6. Mary was a woman of worship. She gave praise to her Lord knowing that the road before her was going to be a difficult one. Do we praise God in and through all circumstances in our lives?
7. Mary trusted in the Lord and waited on God’s timing. A virgin betrothed to be married, and she just had a visitation from an angel of the Lord telling her she is to give birth to the Son of God. How do you explain this one to Joseph? Mary didn't take matters into her own hands, but let the Lord change Joseph's heart.
8. Mary was a chosen vessel of the Lord. If you are a child of God, you have been chosen to be an instrument that God is using to fulfill God’s purposes. Mary was chosen to give spiritual life to the Son of God, and we are chosen to give spiritual life and encouragement to others. Are we living an eternally focused life? Do we take the time to share the truth of the life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ with others?
9. Mary was a faithful servant. When it seemed like everyone had deserted Jesus, his mother Mary was there, and she followed him all the way to the cross. Today there are not many professing believers who are ready to follow Jesus to the cross. Are we true followers of Christ? Are we faithful to Jesus no matter the circumstances or the difficulty of what we may be called to endure?
10. Mary knew Jesus was dying on the cross for her sins. Jesus was her son, but he was also her Savior. The child she loved, she also watched die on a cross for the sins of the world. Do we believe Christ died for our sins? Have we repented our sins and put our faith and trust in Christ and Christ alone for your salvation?
As we approach the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, may we have hearts that are submissive and obedient to God's will for our lives. May we have the courage to say “yes” to God’s plan, no matter where it leads us. May we each become instruments of God’s peace in the world.