Mary: A Miraculous Call, A Remarkable Obedience
We see a theme throughout Scripture of God choosing to use humble people and to work through unworthy things. It seems God delights in surprising us by making main characters out of the underdogs and the unexpected, and by working in ways that seem opposite compared to how we would go about them.
Mary would likely have been shocked at God’s choice in calling her to be the mother of His only Son. And for good reason, too! She would have grown up familiar with the prophesies of old which spoke of the Savior who would be born in Bethlehem, and one who would reign as King. It tangibly didn’t add up that she - a normal girl from humble Nazareth, born into an un-royal family - could be the one to deliver the kind of Redeemer that the Israelites had watched for for 400 years.
Oh, and there is the fact that she was unmarried and a virgin. So, there was some biological confusion there too.
But often times when a call or commission comes from the Lord, we aren’t given all of the answers. Likely we will find our faith challenged and stretched as we consider stepping out to follow God’s beckoning in life without being given a road map, or receiving all of the answers we seek.
We know part of the reason God chooses the humble to be His heroes is because his glory can shine more evidently through someone whom others may not deem qualified, and who is willing to give God the glory rather than attract it to themselves. (1 Cor. 1:27-31, 2 Cor. 12:9)
But my mind can’t help but suggest that the favor God bestowed in choosing Mary was also due to the fact that He knew, consistent with her testimony thus far, that she would say yes to her role. Mary’s encounter with the angel would have been frightening and confusing, and at the conclusion of their conversation, she would have had many unanswered questions. Her logical, human mind would likely have struggled to align her expectations with the angel’s description of how the God of the universe was choosing to bring His only Son, and our Savior, into the world. But even in the midst of so much uncertainty, and without an exact explanation of how it would all play out, we see Mary accept the words of the Lord, and her role within it, in faith.
“I am the Lord’s servant,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38a)
Mary said yes to her calling because it was consistent with the tone of willingness and obedience that marked her life and relationship with the Lord up until this point. And God knew this about Mary’s character, and chose to elevate this humble young woman in His story.
Too often we view our lives as if one day we will have our big moment, receive our sacred calling, have the opportunity to deliver our “big yes,” and step into the single, isolated task we have been created for. We put all of our focus into dreaming and anticipating the big plans we hope God has for our lives, yet miss the opportunities to participate in God’s work which present themselves to us each and every day. But in Scripture, we are told that those who are faithful in the small things are the ones who are then trusted to steward greater responsibilities. And this is consistent with so many of the humble beginnings we see in the lives of our Bible heroes.
Who could have guessed that tending sheep would have prepared someone to be a King? (1 Sam. 16:11-13) Or that becoming a widow would propel one into a journey of joining the lineage of Christ? (Ruth 1:1-5, 4:16-17) Or that it would first require one to descend to the status of a slave in order to rise to the power of a Pharaoh? (Gen. 37:28, Gen. 41:37-45)
We are wasting our precious minutes on this earth if we are sharpening skills and chasing opportunities in an effort to elevate ourselves. Rather, our focus and priority should lie in pursuing our relationship with the Lord, and being faithful and willing to do the tasks He has set before us, no matter how small or scary they may appear.
What are you chasing? What are you investing in? What are you prioritizing? Is it setting you up to be used by God? Are you dealing poorly with responsibilities that seem insignificant in life as you wait impatiently for your big break to come? How might opportunities for small acts of faithfulness be preparing you for the future?
The first of many things we see in the person of Mary is the faithfulness and consistency in her walk with the Lord, and how a life of small obediences and simples “yeses” perfectly prepared her to accept a much higher calling.
Surely she was not the person many would have thought God would choose to use in setting into motion His greatest interaction with humankind, but she was exactly the woman God created to do such a role. Her qualification stemmed from her faithfulness in life up to that point, and from her great faith in stepping forward in obedience without knowing or understanding the full scope of God’s plan to come.
She was willing. She was ready. And she was soon to be the Mother of Jesus.