Mary hears from the Lord, and she accepts his surprising plan for her life: Let it be to me according to your word. Mary’s humility is what I long to see in my own heart. She’s a servant of the Lord, willing to do whatever he asks of her. She entrusts herself to fully to God. Mary’s response isn’t something we should only ponder at Christmas. It’s a way of living every day.
At Easter, I shared about a pen and ink drawing from our Lessons & Carols Christmas service that made me consider in new ways the pain of the Father’s choice. I ended up purchasing it at an auction for a local RUF ministry. That evening I also came home with a second painting.
It’s an oil-on-canvas representing the visit of Gabriel to Mary that my friend Nicole Perri painted. It hangs in my den, directly across from the spot where I read my Bible and pray each morning. When I see it, it reminds that I want to be like Mary, willing and open to receive from God whatever he might bring to my life.
However, as I reread the story in Luke this morning, I was struck by Mary’s acceptance of God’s surprising plan for her life. It didn’t come all at once.
The story begins:
And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. (Luke 1:28–29)
Mary’s initial response was not joyful delight. She was greatly troubled as she attempted to discern what this angel was saying to her.
It’s somewhat surprising, isn’t it? You are favored. The Lord is with you. Isn’t that what we’d all like to hear? However, it’s also difficult to imagine a heavenly creature appearing to us. Perhaps whatever he said, we might feel “greatly troubled.”
When faced with the Lord’s plan for our lives, we’re promised these same truths. No matter what happens: You are favored. The Lord is with you. Sometimes these truths are difficult to understand in the struggles we face. When a loved one is deathly ill, when a friend betrays us, when we’re lonely, when ministry efforts don’t go according to our plan, our circumstances can cloud these truths.
I find Mary’s initial response of being “greatly troubled” encouraging. Often, our lives do not turn out the way we expect. There’s room to ponder and wonder at what the Lord is doing as we attempt to discern his plans for us. We’re also allowed to question and ask God to give us understanding for what we simply can’t comprehend.