Happy. Stressed. Overjoyed. Overwhelmed. Do any of these words describe you this time of year? If so, you're in good company.
When people looked at Mary, they didn't see anything special. After all, a young, poor Galilean girl didn't stir much interest. And although the Bible doesn't speak much of Mary's childhood, we can assume that it was a very ordinary life. Just like the other young women, Mary took care of the chores around the house. She sewed, cooked, and drew water from the well. No one knew the future that was awaiting her.
When God looked at Mary, he looked beyond her gender and her poverty. God looked straight into her heart, and from what Gabriel tells Mary, God liked what he saw. He saw a heart of trust and a spirit of obedience. He saw a young girl who was willing to do whatever was necessary to please God. He saw a useful vessel, so He used her in a way that could have never been imagined.
Picture a young Mary, probably in her early teens, as she stands before Gabriel. First of all, I would imagine the shock of seeing an angel was overwhelming. Add to this the fact that the angel is showering her with praise. I'm sure Mary was speechless for a little while. I'm sure she was honored and that she felt unworthy of such an important role, but did her thoughts stop there? She could have been so overwhelmed at the time that she didn't think about much of anything. It could have been later that thoughts began to bombard her.
By accepting such tidings, Mary was risking a lot. Think about it, she was an unwed woman, set to be married and now carrying a child that does not belong to her intended spouse. Imagine the shame, the ridicule, the gossip. What would it be like to have your friends and family think the worst of you when you had, in truth, done nothing wrong? Was carrying the Son of God worth all of that? Mary seemed to think so.
As soon as Gabriel is done speaking, Mary opens her mouth. Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. Mary declares, “I am the Lord's servant, and I will do whatever he asks of me.” Are we as willing to obey? When we see what our obedience will cost us, do we make excuses? A better question still is do we have enough favor in God's sight that He would ask a favor of us. When He looks at us, what does He see? An obedient servant? A heart full of faith? Or a partially devoted follower who turns the other way when the going gets tough? Mary learned that when you obey and trust, God will work out all the details.
- This devotion was an excerpt from a new book I'm working on. Lord willing, Footprints on the Water will be available in a few months. I hope you enjoyed this "sneak peek."