Here we are in Advent again – sitting in darkness, in wonder and awe, anticipating the birth of Christ. Each year, we imagine Mary, not so quietly, sitting in prayer after Gabriel shook her world to its foundation! She had to be blindsided by Gabriel’s visit to her.
Imagine that encounter, if you can. “Hey, Mary! I have some exciting news! This Christmas will be a bit different for you because you’ve been selected – drum roll please – to be the Mother of Jesus! You’ve been chosen from several applicants, some of whom had some pretty sketchy character flaws, I might add. Anyway, I know you have lots of questions. Like, ‘why me?’ or ‘whose Jesus?’ or better still, ‘what’s Christmas?’. We’ll get to all that eventually.”
I’m not gonna lie, like Mary, I also questioned God’s wisdom when he approached me with some fun new adventure.
ME: “Wait, WHAT?! ME? You’re kidding, right?”
GOD – “NOPE!”
Though she was blessed with extraordinary parents who excelled at Parenting 101, training her up by their example, she was still just a teenager. Would she accept God’s call? Of course, we know she did humbly offer her “yes” to God. That response had to come from the depths of her heart even amid the doubt and fear.
I was just a teenager when my daughter was born, and I can assure you that if I would have had the good sense to consider the magnitude of raising a child and loving her well, I would have been scared to death! Unlike Mary, I had no positive role models to emulate. It was trial by fire and I made plenty of mistakes, later requesting a do-over from God – which he never granted. However, in his infinite love, mercy, and forgiveness, he tenderly held and began healing those broken parts, infusing his love into my relationship with my daughter. I suppose you could call that a do-over.
I still question God’s thinking each time he comes up with a new plan, sending me in an uncertain direction. Thinking I know myself better than he does, I want to leave my options open. Okay, I’ll go this far, but no further. I’ll wait this long, but no longer. I’ll trust you with this, but not with that. Admittedly, it’s usually in hindsight that I see the progression of things God put in place to provide everything I needed short of my “yes”.
Years ago, I recall striking out on my own to do “volunteer work”. Those efforts usually failed because they were never born out of longing or purpose, only an effort to garner praise from others and hopefully God. To get a few brownie points for heaven. But, in short order, I would lose interest or burn out because there was no real passion for what I was doing.
And guess what…you’re not off the hook either, my friend. God has called each one of us to be Christ-bearers. Scary, huh? Take a deep breath. It’s okay.
When we can’t see how we could possibly accomplish the task God sets before us, it takes trust and faith, like Mary, to say “yes” in the midst of our doubts and fears. And let’s get this straight now, it won’t be “Savior of the world” that job’s taken! Sorry.
And keep in mind God doesn’t do ordinary. He does PASSION AND PURPOSE – OVER THE TOP!
When it’s God’s plan it will not fail. He will see it through to completion. Jeremiah tells us so (29:11). Think of it, if he relied on us to figure it out by ourselves, we would surely mess it up and make him look bad. This, in turn, may cause others who are watching to reconsider any thought of trusting him. “WOW, Linda! You royally screwed that one up! And wasted a whole lot of time and energy in the process. No thanks. I’m not goin’ there. I have better things to do.”
Keep in mind that it’s God who initiates his plans for us, not the other way around. He doesn’t consult us for anything! Take Job for instance, he found that out the hard way! It wasn’t pretty when God confronted his whiny self, “Hey buddy, I’m curious, when I was creating the world out of nothing, I don’t recall seeing you there or consulting you on how to keep the oceans in their place or how to make a Zebra from scratch (and, yes, that was intentional).
Did I ask you for pointers on how to paint a breath-taking sunset? Whew, I outdid myself on that one. That was brilliant! Even if I do say so myself. And, of course, the myriad of other uniquely spectacular feats of creation that on one has been able to top.
And what about my grand finale? Humans. Huh? Yeah, I know, that was genius. Sure, there have been a few hiccups along the way – okay fine – major human failings. But that’s not my fault! It’s you guys never seeming to get your part right.”
So, this Christmas, as we are reminded once again of the remarkable story of Christ’s birth – God’s love coming to us with skin on, I pray we will listen for and accept God’s call to us to be Christ-bearers in whatever way he has prepared us, just as he did with Mary.
Go ahead, allow yourself to sit in the darkness with God, and bravely ask him what you are here for. His answer will surely surprise you. And I guarantee you if you utter that one little word, “yes”, be prepared because there will be no more business as usual.
My prayer for this Christmas is hope for a better, more peaceful, and loving world that begins with God and is manifest through us, just as it was with Mary and Jesus so long ago.