In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 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 1:26-29 ESV
As followers of Jesus, God has a calling on each and every one of our lives. We are all called to belong to Christ, called to be saints, called according to his purpose, called into fellowship with Jesus Christ, called to freedom from sin, called to holiness, called out of darkness into God’s marvelous light, and called to his own glory and excellence, etc. (Rom. 1:6-7; Rom. 8:28; 1 Co. 1:9; Gal. 5:13; 1 Thess. 4:7; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Pet. 2:9; 2 Pet. 1:3).
We are called to be God’s holy people, to live lives which are separate (unlike, different) from the world of sin, set apart to God and to his service, to do whatever it is he has individually called us to do. We are called to obedience in Christ and to submission to the will of God for our lives. And, where he has called us, he will equip us, and he will give us everything we need to do what he says we are to do.
We will all share in the general calling God has for all his followers, but the Spirit of God gifts us individually. Even if we have the same gifts, he may have us use them in different ways from each other, as long as those ways are in agreement with scripture. And since he made us all unique, he will have us use those gifts in ways which are unique to our specific callings.
He may show us his will for our lives in many different ways, too. For me, he spoke to me through a passage of scripture in Habakkuk 2:2-3. And, he called me to write down what he teaches me from his Word each day and to put it on the internet, “so that a herald may run with it.” I trust him with the words he wants me to share, I write them down, and then I put them where he leads me. And, he takes them where he wants them to go.
For you, it may not be like it was for me. But, whatever it is you believe he is calling you to do, it will be in agreement with his word, and it will be according to his will and purposes, and it will be for his glory and praise, and it will be for the salvation of human lives and for God’s eternal kingdom.
And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:30-33 ESV
Mary’s calling was definitely unique, never to be equaled again by anyone in all creation. She alone was the one chosen by God to bear the Son of God in her womb, conceived of the Holy Spirit, and to give birth to the Savior of the world.
But, you know, in a spiritual sense, we who are in Christ, by faith in him, are all called to bear the Son of God within us. We are all called to have the Savior of the world living within us. And this, as well, is conceived of the Holy Spirit. Our spiritual lives, in Christ Jesus, are birthed of the Spirit of God. This is not something we can do in our own flesh. Only the Holy Spirit of God can give us new lives in Christ Jesus, born of the Spirit of God.
We are all to carry Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, within our lives, in our hearts, but not just for nine months, but for forever. And, this involves, not only accepting him into our lives, but receiving his will and his purposes into our lives, too. And, it involves us submitting to those purposes and obeying what our Lord commands us to do, just like Mary had to do.
And, having the Savior of the world living within us should transform our hearts and lives, too, as Mary’s life was definitely transformed. We should no longer be like we were before, doing the same old things we used to do. We should no longer be the ones controlling our own lives and our own destiny, but our wills must be submitted to the will of God, and now we should be living for his purposes, and for his glory, not for our own purposes.
Jesus is the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, and if he is living within us, that should mean that he is our King, and that he is our Lord, and that he is the one reigning supreme within and over our lives. He should be our ruler. And, we should be living in submission to his will for our lives, doing what he says to do, going where he sends us, and saying whatever he commands us to say to whomever he commands us to say it.
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:34-38 ESV
Mary didn’t doubt God, not like Zechariah did, and so he was not able to speak until after his son John was born and he named him “John,” as God had instructed. Mary believed God. Her question was not one of doubt, but of practicality. She needed to know how this was going to take place.
And, when God calls us to a specific ministry, he is not going to leave us hanging. He is going to show us how it is going to happen, too.
I knew God was calling me to write, but it took me a little while to completely understand how this was going to happen, so that I knew what I was supposed to do, or so that I understood God’s working within me, for this was all new to me, too. I didn’t doubt God’s calling, but I needed some further instruction on how exactly this was supposed to come about.
And, the Lord will instruct us in the way that we are to go, and he will lead us and give us direction, if we are willing, and if we will listen to him. For, many people pray for God to show them his will, but they aren’t willing to do what he says. We need to be willing to go wherever he sends us, and to do whatever he says to do, no matter what.
Think of Mary for a moment. How was she going to explain being pregnant outside of marriage? She was in danger of being put to death, too, for everyone would assume she had committed adultery, even her betrothed. So, by saying “Yes” to God, she put her life and her reputation on the line, and she had to trust God with her future. She had to step out in faith and let God do in her what his will had decided, even if it meant being hated, rejected, falsely accused and even killed. That is dedication!
And, that is where we all need to be. Our salvation is not just forgiveness of sins, an escape from hell, and the promise of heaven when we die. Jesus died to transform us, to make us into his likeness, to take us from darkness to light, and that we might die to sin and self in order to follow him in obedience to his will and to his ways. Mary’s life can teach us a lot!
I love Mary’s response, which should be the response of everyone one of us who claims to be a Christian and a follower of Christ. “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
May that be the attitude of every one of us. May we lay our lives down on the line in order to follow our Lord in obedience to his will for our lives no matter the cost to us. For, it cost Jesus everything to give us salvation and eternal life with God.
You Loved Me
An Original Work / December 3, 2019
A song based off the poem by the same name
When I was lonely and afflicted,
You were there to pick me up.
You took me in Your arms,
And You held me tenderly.
Your love embraced me.
Your grace sustained me.
When my heart cried out to You
In my fear and my despair,
You never turned away,
But You let me know You loved me.
Your grace forgave me.
You did not shame me.
Then, when I answered the call,
“Here, Lord, send me.”
You sent me to where I must be.
Your mercy held me, did not fail me.
All this, You had planned, to use me.
And, when all trials and scorn
Came to test me.
You gave me all that I would need.
You strengthened me so I’d not fail You.
Your kindness blessed me, it touched me.
And, when I needed the church
To lift up me,
To hearten me so I’d not fail,
You blessed me with folks who would love me.
Their presence with me, Your praise hailed!
And, when I walked through the valley
Of the shadow of the death,
And tears flowed from my eyes,
Still Your kindness was there for me.
Your touch, it healed me.
For I believed You.
When now I think about the ways,
Of the many, many ways
That You in Your great love
Show me that You’ll always care for me,
My heart, it thanks You,
And gladness fills me, fills me.