30Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
34Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
35And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37For with God nothing will be impossible.”
38Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.Luke 1:30-38 NKJV
Where will you be when God reveals to you what you are here for? What will you say? Will you be ready to say anything at all?
I think Mary’s experience is typical of many people who seek to do God’s will but are not waiting for God to speak. We pray, we plead, and we seek to know what God is going to do with us and yet we are stunned when he speaks. If we believe God speaks, we should not be so surprised when he actually does.
Where were you when he spoke the first time? Or are you still waiting?
I find that most people have become jaded with the notion that God is going to use us to do his will. We say it, but we don’t believe it anymore. We are sitting in our homes, offices, cars, and maybe in our churches and we want to believe. We want it to be true for us.
We see it in others and we desire to be an instrument of his will. His perfect will for us, but the notion that it will ever come to pass has become nothing but a dream for the foolish, the wishful thinking of the immature dreamer.
We have become “realistic” about God’s will for our lives. But we have actually done is given up on God we have lost a sense of expectation that God will speak. In a way, we have become disappointed with God. We wonder if we can trust him at all.
What at one time was a deep passion has become bitter and stagnant. It is a lingering resentment at God.
We don’t tell anybody, we don’t want anyone else to know the truth of it. We want to be God’s servant, but instead, we have become hatred’s slaves. What else could it be? We are festering inside wishing that we could know what God is going to do with us. But all we hear is that painful silence.
Where were you? Were you in the pit of some confusion? In the midst of circumstances beyond your control?
Or did you find yourself broken and bruised hiding in the shadows of a church despising God and trying your best to be rid of him, or maybe that was just me. But he just would not let me go.
Or was it that I just could not afford to let him go and so I recanted. I repented and found myself at the feet of Jesus.
There are so many names that the scriptures ascribe to the Messiah, but the one that really touches my heart is the one that the prophet gave to him—Immanuel, God with us. The eternal God chose to come down and enter time and to be one of us.
God in his eternal power and magnificence poured himself into the frail and limited body of a man? And for what? To take that which he created out for a test run? No. He came to understand us and to provide a way back to the Father. But how was this to be done? How was God going to make it here to this earth? He would come as all other men had come. He came as a baby. And like every babe born to men, there was the need for a mother.
I love Christmas because it is a continual reminder of that fact, the truth, that God came to dwell among us. He came to show us what it really means to be human beings.
Where will you be when God comes through the door of your heart and asks for a favor? The angel came into Mary and said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one…”
Rejoice? Are we the kind of people that when God comes he commends us for the way that we have lived our lives? Will God be able to say of us that we are blessed because of the righteousness and faithfulness that is present in our hearts? Because I have to believe that God would not have picked just anybody to be the mother of His Son.
I know that there are some within the Christian faith that elevates Mary much further than is necessary, but I have to concede that Mary was not just anybody. Of all the women, in all the world, through all of history, God chose her. That makes her special. That makes her unique. And even though no one else will ever have that opportunity extended to them again, we should strive to be the kind of people that God would trust His son with.
But in a way he has. Any man or woman who has believed in faith has taken a similar step, as Mary did. By saying yes to Jesus we are accepting the responsibility to care for Jesus. We have accepted the responsibility to love him and share our lives with him. We are in a way like Mary carrying him with us because he lives in us and through us. With each passing day, with each opportunity to share our witness and testimony we give him life in a world that is lost and in need of him.
There is Mary finishing the chores of the day, thinking of the wedding that is only months away now, when all of a sudden an angel comes bearing strange news. “You are going to have a son and you will call Him Jesus.”
Where will you be?
Mary was minding her own business and all of a sudden she must make a choice. There was no time to think about it. There is no time to make him wait. Mary is stunned and asks the only question that comes to her mind, “How can I have a son when I am still a virgin.” The angel answers that there is nothing that God can’t do. And the most remarkable thing happens, that response is sufficient for Mary and she makes her own faith-filled statement, “Behold, the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”
Where will you be when your faith is required of you? What will you do? How will you respond? The Christmas story is more than just the miracle of the incarnation. The Christmas story is a miracle of faith. It is a story of a young lady, struggling to make sense of life and marriage and without asking for it is chosen to bring the son of God into this world. Faith, whenever it is expressed, is a miracle because faith is the audacity to say, “According to your word.”
“According to your word” is the kind of faith that can move mountains.
“According to your word” is the kind of faith that can make kings come crashing to their knees.
“According to your word” is the kind of faith that touches the heart of God.
Let me tell you something, “according to your word” is the kind of faith that Mary taught to Jesus as he toddled around the house so that when Jesus stayed in the temple the teachers marveled at him. When Mary and Joseph came back to get him, Jesus responded that he was about his father’s business. We see a shadow of Mary’s faith in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus says to the father, “not my will, but thine be done.” Yes, he was a man, a man with a mama that taught him about faith. A man who understood that in order to live a life that is pleasing to God He must live “according to your word.”
Christmas is such a wonderful time of year. Enjoy the lights and the family. Enjoy the gifts and the tree. Enjoy the festive nature of the year, but let us not forget the babe. Let us not forget that the joy we have comes and stays when our lives are lived “according to [His] word.”
Some people in this world may be frustrated with God because he has not said anything to them and they are waiting. Could it be that we have not said what God is waiting to hear? Where will you be when God sends his angel? I’ll be waiting. May you have a Merry Christmas.
Originally Delivered: December 19, 2004. It has been edited and expanded.