When I read the gospels, I usually skim through the Christmas story. The nativity is repeated so often during December that I consider my Christmas story quota filled. But recently I started researching Mary, the mother of Jesus, and discovered something both deeply humbling and encouraging.
“In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you’” (Luke 1:26-28).
An angel approaches a teenage village girl and pronounces her to be favored by God and to have the presence of God with her! Was Mary a saint from the start?
We know from Scripture that God places a high value on the humble and the pure in heart. James 4:8 states, “Come close to God and God will come close to you.”
Mary was not any more perfect than Gideon or David. She was not sinless. In fact she calls the Messiah “My Savior” in Luke 1:47. Mary recognized that she was indeed a sinner in need of a Savior.
But Mary shows us that before God called her to this role, she had filled up on Him. She knew her God.
With school, work, friendships, and thinking about college and the future, it’s really easy to focus on anything but our relationship with God. God desires your heart way more than anything. An incredible woman in my life once said, “It is better to be anything-deprived rather than God-deprived.” This means that sometimes we sacrifice in order to fill up on the good stuff: God’s Word and spending time in His presence.
I believe that Mary had been filling up on the good stuff. How can I know that? Just check out her response to the fact that she, a virgin, was going to have a baby. And not just any baby, mind you. She was going to birth the Savior of the world! Mary had been preparing her heart for this her entire life.
“Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.’
‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.’
‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May it be to me as you have said.’” (Luke 1:29-38)
In every translation of Luke, Mary still says, “I’m Yours, God. I will take whatever You want to give me, even if it’s hard.” Mary had devoted herself to the Lord to the point that she trusted His judgment above all else. Look what she was willing to offer up to God: wedding plans, her wedding dress, her reputation and standing, emotional stability, friends, others’ assumptions, and even naming her child!
Mary reminds us to live expectantly trusting our Father—the one who makes good on all His promises. In Mary we see a willingness to open her hands, listen to God’s call, and trust His dreams for her. May we draw near to God and learn say with confidence, “I am your servant, Lord. I trust You.”