Responding in Joyful Obedience

22 Dec

Mary. The mother of Jesus. Known worldwide for centuries as the virgin girl who gave birth to her firstborn son in a stable of all places, not because she was anyone special, nor because a barn is a most unlikely place to deliver a baby. Known because this child that she carried for nine months was the very God that created her.

But tonight, I want to take a look at something that I believe that Mary can also be known for and something that we can learn much from.

I was thinking about Mary’s reaction to the angel’s message that day as she took an incredibly hard to comprehend situation and responded in a way that said much about who she was.

Mary’s initial response was one of confusion.

“And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.”

Luke 1:29 

Scripture tells us that Mary cast in her mind what was spoken by Gabriel that day. This means that she reckoned thoroughly. Can you imagine what was going through her mind at that moment, as she tried to wrap her finite understanding around the Infinite coming to dwell not only on earth, but to dwell within her?

I believe that we can learn the right response to God’s requests in our lives. I believe this teaches that to be confused or puzzled by the Lord’s direction is not a sin as long as we have faith enough in Him to move ahead regardless of what we don’t understand.

Mary’s confusion was then  made apparent by questioning.

“Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?”

 Luke 1:34 

All of us, myself especially, are great with this one. How easy it is to question when we can’t see the big picture. When we see only the threads because He’s not yet revealed the tapestry, questions are prevalent. When we see only today with little hope for tomorrow, our human minds try to grasp the situation and they do so with question.

Again, I believe we can learn something from this. It is not a sin to question as long as we are content with His answer or lack thereof. If we question and He responds in silence, we must accept that with grace, knowing full well that all is well that’s left in His hands. If we question and He gives an answer that still doesn’t make much sense, we must still be willing to respond.

This brings us to Mary’s third and final response.

 “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word… ”

Luke 1:38 

A response of joyful obedience.

Though I’m sure a million questions still lingered in her mind, 

“What will Joseph think?”

“How will the townspeople react?”

“Why me? Why did God choose me to carry His Son?” 

 she said “Yes, Lord.” 

Though I’m sure she was scared and uncertain, she took the word from her Lord as just that, a word from the Lord.

 “And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.”

Luke 1:46-55 

Her spirit was rejoicing in God her Savior. She was magnifying the One that had called her to such a high and noble calling. She viewed this immaculate conception as a great thing! She took His request and immediately demonstrated a joyful heart before God and others despite her confusion and question.

I think we can learn much from the mother of our Lord. When God makes a request, whether it be something large like surrendering to full-time ministry or calling us to live for Him in a specific way or something smaller, in our eyes, like choosing to treat others as we would like to be treated or making good use of the time given to us, we should respond in joyful obedience.

This account clearly shows us that as humans we will initially respond with confusion and question, and that doing so is not sinful, if we can move past those stages. We have a choice to make.

Will we stay at confusion?

Will we allow question to hinder action?

Or will be respond joyfully in spite of what we may still be confused about or still be questioning?

Will we trust Him enough to joyfully obey regardless of His request?

May we look at Mary, not only at Christmas, as the Joseph’s wife and Jesus’ mother, but as a role model to which we can look to find a great example of joyful obedience.

Do you think she was thankful she responded as she did, when sweet baby Jesus made His entrance into the world on that dark night in Bethlehem? Do you think, she whispered “Thank you, Lord, for giving me grace to follow You? Thank you for giving me this precious privilege?” Though we are not given any dialogue from Mary in Luke chapter two, I think we can safely assume that Mary was grateful she had chosen to respond in joyful obedience!

 “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.”

Isaiah 6:8 



One Response to “Responding in Joyful Obedience”

  1. Uncle Joe December 23, 2009 at 3:14 am #

    I really needed this post this morning. Once again God has used you to help me. In my mind, I want to see all the details of my life worked out before I take the next step, but it doesn’t always work that way. Thanks for reminding me that even with my questions I can move forward and know that God will take care of me. You are such a blessing to me.

    LOVE you
    Uncle Joe

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