Who was the first person to know of the coming birth of the Messiah? Who was the first person to request a miracle from Jesus? Would you be surprised to know that the same woman is the answer to both of those questions?
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was the first person to know of the coming birth of the Messiah because God sent the angel Gabriel directly to her to tell her she had been chosen to be the mother of God’s Son. Then, when Jesus was an adult, the first miracle he performed was at her request at the wedding of Cana (see John 2). It’s interesting to note that no men were needed to communicate those messages.
Mary’s love for God long preceded her love for her Son, Jesus. It was that love of God that allowed her to be chosen by God, prepared her for the task God had for her, and made her able to endure the heartache that would come with fulfilling that task. Mary’s love for God gave her the strength to surrender to God.
Love does that. Love goes to extremes. Since the Greatest Commandments are to Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself, then it is important for us to try to emulate the kind of love demonstrated by those chosen by God. Mary chose to fulfill the calling God had for her. This calling was not easy. This calling did not bring material wealth. This calling brought ridicule, pain, and suffering. Yet this calling also brought the fulfillment of God’s plan for not only Mary, but for the whole world–even for you and me. Mary’s love was an Expectant Love.
If we want to exhibit an Expectant Love this Advent, we can follow Mary’s example of loving God with all we are through our willingness to surrender to be, do, and go at God’s request.
Mary shows us how to have . . .
1. Strength in BEING – “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Mary knew who she was in relation to the God who was asking her to yield her plans, her reputation, and maybe even her life to this new role as the mother of Jesus.
Who is God asking you to BE?
You can choose to become a human being by taking time to develop yourself from the inside out—get to know WHO you are and look only to Jesus for your affirmation. Mary’s example of focusing on who GOD is in her song of praise teaches you how to keep things in perspective. DOING has its time and purpose, but if you never stop the DOING, you’ll never hear the still, small voice that calls you to trust and simply BE. Surrender to God’s request to BE.
2. Strength in DOING – “The Mighty One has done great things for me” (Luke 1:49). Her song of praise lists all that God’s power has accomplished and is modeled after Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2 (scroll down to see Dec 28’s post on Hannah’s Hopeful Heart). Mary understands that she is not the source of her accomplishments and blessings – God is.
What is God asking you to DO?
While Mary’s song of praise focuses on God’s activity in the lives of people, she was able to sing it as a result of her acceptance of the task God had asked her to DO. Learning to discern what God’s task is for you comes through prayer, fasting, meditation, worship, and scripture study. Those are the prelude for DOING something that will bring God glory. Surrender to God’s request to DO.
3. Strength in GOING – “Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town” (Luke 1:39). That was the first of at least six treks we watch this young woman make just in the first 2 chapters of Luke! When Mary said “yes” to God’s purpose and plan, it included a willingness to GO whenever and wherever God called.
Where is God asking you to GO?
God never promised you would stay in one place or that you would put down roots that would never be transplanted. God did promise to be with you and never forsake you (Heb. 13:5). A servant leader who is yielded completely to God’s service may indeed be asked to change locations–your office, your home, your vocation, your country. And when you GO in joyful obedience, you will discover, “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord” (Luke 1:45). Surrender to God’s request to GO.
Which of these three areas is most challenging for you? For me: it’s the BEING. The practice of simply BEING in God’s presence, learning to still my mind and my activity long enough to hear God’s voice requires much more discipline than most other things in my life. Stillness is not valued in our culture. For me, I know my greatest gift to God is my stillness in waiting for, waiting with, and waiting on God.
Join the conversation below . . .
What’s the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to surrender?