When my husband first told me that we would likely be moving eight hours away, I resisted. There was no way I could fathom anything good coming out of this. But, after several weeks of obstinate wrestling with God , a peace from Him flooded me. As people prayed over us in the weeks before our departure, I knew I was to expect something from Jesus. I would not let this life event go to waste.
That was over ten years ago and there have been many other events in my life that have led me to expect big things from Jesus, to fully trust Him in all things. When we are placed in situations where we are expecting Jesus, often they are difficult situations...a disruption of our hopes and dreams, an illness, a spiritually-wandering loved one.
I used to actually believe that if I was in God's will then all the 'doors' would be wide open and life would be smooth. But, I've learned that during those life-is-not-smooth times are the precise times I've had to expect Jesus--expect His goodness and sovereignty to reign over the hard times, expect His love to comfort and carry me through, expect Jesus to strengthen my dependency upon Him, and expect Him to work all things together for good.
Can you imagine how difficult things must have been for Mary as she was expecting Jesus all those years ago? Each Advent season I share a blog post written years ago because it continually challenges me. I want to share it here again with our readers and pray that you will be encouraged by Mary's submission as you may face difficulties.
In expecting Jesus to do His refining work in our lives, expect difficulties (don't be naive!) and expect Him to carry you through.
Mary's Submission (originally written in 2007)
Can you imagine being chosen by God to carry baby Jesus in your womb? To raise Him? To witness His complete sacrifice? As we prepare to celebrate His first coming to the world, may we also be filled with excitement as we anticipate His second advent!
Let it be to me according to your word. Luke 1:38
When I was preparing for a Sunday School lesson during the Christmas season, I re-read the passage in Luke 1 where the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to announce that she was chosen by God to conceive a Son, Jesus. God’s Word was certainly alive and powerful as I was reading this very familiar passage because His Spirit gave me a fresh understanding that I carried with me through the rest of the holiday season. Here are some highlights…
When God called upon Mary to be the vessel that He would use to bring His Son forth into this world in human form, she was:
- willing to be used. We can’t underestimate the sheer shock that Mary must’ve had when an actual angel appeared to her, let alone the message he was carrying! But, Mary was willing–”let it be unto me according to your word.”
- surrendered. Mary didn’t respond to the angel with a list of better ideas or contingencies. She would’ve known the implications of becoming pregnant out of wedlock. She would’ve known that this would be a very difficult and lonely road to take. But, she submitted to God’s plan fully. I think there must’ve been a tremendous amount of faith and trust involved to do that.
- full of praise! Mary’s magnificat in Luke 1: 46-56 shows us Mary’s response to the amazing news she had received. She responded with awe, praise and worship.
We are so blessed to be used by God in His work here on earth. He certainly doesn’t need us, yet He chooses to use us. And in that process we grow closer to Him, get to know Him more and get the honor of advancing His kingdom here on earth. When we are chosen by God for a particular task, we can reflect upon Mary’s response–one that was willing, surrendered and full of praise. Sometimes we consider a ‘particular task’ to be a big ministry, but as I let these words sink into my heart I am reminded of how God uses me on a daily basis at home with my husband and children. I pray that I can be more open and willing, more surrendered and more worshipful as I live out the plan God has for me in this life. I encourage you, too, in this journey as you depend upon God to do the same.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for reaching out to us. Thank You for Your grace and mercy. Thank You for the ministries in our homes, churches, workplaces and beyond. May our senses be fine-tuned to Your voice as You lead us in Your will. We echo Mary’s words that were spoken many years ago when we say that You are mighty and have done great things for us! Holy is Your name! Your mercy is on those who fear You from generation to generation! In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.