Luke 1: 26-45
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 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, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
Now what would you be thinking? Luke tells us she was a little troubled – maybe like getting a note to come see your daddy or to go to the principal’s office. Can’t you just see yourself quickly replaying everything you did the last few days? How much money you spent on Amazon, at the grocery? But the angel tells her, you are favored, don’t be afraid. Right? Right. And now ponder this along with Mary – you will conceive and bear a son and His name will be Jesus. Wait, what? I hear you – he’ll be great, called the Son of the Most High, he’ll reign and His kingdom will have no end. But what are you saying, I’m a virgin – seriously, HOW will this be? He tells her the Holy Spirit will come upon her and the power of the Most High will overshadow her so he’ll be called holy, the Son of God. Nothing will be impossible with God.
I don’t know about you, but if I’m a young girl, engaged, living at home, planning my wedding, and waiting patiently and faithfully for my ‘betrothed” to return to make me his bride, this little interruption on this night would freak me out! I’d be asking WHY LORD, why me? Have you noticed sometimes our best laid plans go awry?
But what did Mary do? Mary said, gazing at the messenger, NO! She stomped her feet, spun on her heels and walked away! Wait a minute – that doesn’t sound right. That’s probably what I would say – or maybe what you would say. Sound familiar?
Well here’s what Mary really said, “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” She basically said, I am yours, amen. She said YES.
Now maybe that is what you would say, but not me. I’m kind of stubborn, 2x4s are usually involved – as in hitting me over the head with one. I’m the one who did stomp her feet and said “No” to my first mission trip – until all the obstacles were removed, and I was left with no excuses. I went, but still kicking and screaming (that’s another great story, but I’ll save it for another day). The trip was AMAZING. It was there that I began to sense a call to serve women, to live beyond myself.
Six years later I landed a position with my local church to serve on the women’s team. I knew this was IT. I poured myself into it with gusto and loved every minute of it. One day I found myself in a home with a wooden sign over the kitchen sink, “Interrupt us Lord!” What a simple but profound prayer of submission. It challenged me, but I prayed that prayer then and many days after. Yes, please, interrupt me, have your way. Why was I so surprised when the day came with an interruption that would point me in a new direction? I wish I could say I was like Mary, but I wasn’t. I did my usual stomping of feet and spinning on my heels to walk away. NO, NO, NO! This was my baby.
This interruption, this change would wreck my world, my dreams, my hopes and plans. Yet as I searched the scriptures I knew God did not call us to be comfortable. Abraham was asked to leave the land of UR. Beth Moore, in her Patriarch’s study, called UR the land of Usual Routine. How fitting for me to remember this now. I liked my usual routine. Why did God have to interrupt that? Jonah ran from God in disobedience and many suffered. Would I be obedient or disobedient?
A friend shared Isaiah 30:15 with me, “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” That last part, “but you would have no one of it”, hit home. In my fits there was no quiet and in holding out for my way, there was no trust. The truth had quieted me. I buttoned my lip, settled my feet, and asked God to give me his rest and quiet and strength in faith that trusts. Like Mary.
For Mary (and for us), a baby changed everything. Regardless of the Pinterest boards Mary may have created with wedding plans, God’s plan was not hers. There was no peace. They traveled rough terrain – at night. The angels declared “it’s a boy” for his gender reveal. The tweets only went out to the lowliest, the shepherds, and the only post was made in the sky. Doors didn’t open but closed to them. There was no place for his birth. He was born in a manger, in a hostile world. Only a few kings noticed and followed. He didn’t arrive to Instagram fanfare but the bleating of lambs and goats. With the rumor mill, the jealous king found out a baby had more likes and visitors, so he sent terror through the land with a bounty for the heads of all boys 3-years-old and younger. What kind of crazy world is that to live in? I wouldn’t feel so safe. If I’m Mary, I’m wondering — did I hear God right? Where was the pageantry for David’s throne, the kingdom? Why is this so hard? Why me? I don’t like this – go to Plan B. I’m sure I’d tell God to try again, this isn’t working. Did she want to quit, abandon this plan?
Many well-meaning friends have said on many an occasion, “it must not be God’s will if everything is hard and the doors don’t swing wide open”. I wonder about this. The journeys God has taken me on aren’t always paved with streets of gold. He promises one day they will be, but when I pray for mountains to move or for God to move me, it seems there’s often a lot more that comes with the answer and it usually involves a journey where there are tough decisions, steep climbs, and our beliefs are tested. I don’t think Mary had any idea of the hard things to come, but we aren’t told of her doubt, her pout, or her naughty attitude. We read (Luke 1:45) how Mary believed God and was blessed. Confident. Faithful. His servant. The recipient of God’s favor and his grace. His plan done on earth as in heaven. She said yes, no matter what came.
God’s plan was not mine. His interruption redirected me. The time for fighting had passed and now it was time to believe, to put faith to my feet and walk the talk. I had no idea where he would lead me, but in taking steps of faith, trusting God, praying with my husband and my family, God challenged me to use the experiences, the desires, and dreams He planted within me. I never dreamed I’d own a women’s boutique, but God doesn’t waste anything. Numerous years in retail, marketing, and advertising; time being rooted and established in the Word, building my hope and confidence in Him; nurturing my faith – God is using it all to shape Belle Monde Boutique and grow me. It’s not always easy, it’s scary at times. His ways are not mine, but His interruption, His wrecking ball in my usual routine, is fashioning something beautiful in my world! I said yes to God. In this new season I pray to faithfully, confidently, and intentionally serve Him as he directs me to help women fashion their world beautiful too.
I believe every woman was designed with promise and purpose. What is it God has been wanting you to do? What dreams, desires, experiences are planted in your heart? Nothing is impossible with God. He is the agent of change. He may be calling you to an interruption that will wreck your usual routine. Can you trust Him? He is the God of the impossible. Join me in asking Him to show us, to teach us, to take us on the adventure He planned. There may be a few bumps and bruises, but He will be with us every step of the way. He will not fail you or me. Just as God used Mary, He is looking for His daughters who will also say yes today. Let us be found trusting with strength and confidence and a resolute Yes, giving Life to what was planned in Heaven on Earth today.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Ephesians 2:10 NIV
“This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”
Isaiah 30:15 NIV
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV