Thursday, November 21, 2013

How Can This Be?

On Monday, we looked at Zacharias and how his questioning of God's plan caused stern consequences for him.

Today we will be looking at a second person who shows up 5 verses later who also questioned God's plan but was shown grace and understanding.

Mary was a young girl, not yet married, but engaged to a young man named Joseph. We also know that she was a girl of high moral character. Let's look at her story.

And he {Gabriel} came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly perplexed at the statement, and was pondering what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. (Luke 1:28-30 LEB)

This part makes me chuckle a bit. Gabriel approaches Mary in a friendly way (I can only imagine how excited he was at meeting the girl who would be the mother of his Lord and having the privilege of being the one to give her the news), yet her expression caused him to explain himself a bit more clearly.  My paraphrase, "Oh, oh, it's okay! Don't be scared! You have made God very happy!" 

Wow! Let's just think about that for a moment. 

Can you even imagine what it would be like for God to send a messenger out of heaven to let you know He is pleased with you and that you have found His favor?  

Then came the message, And behold, you will conceive in the womb and will give birth to a son, and you will call his name Jesus. This one will be great, and he will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give 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 1:31-33 LEB)

This is when the question came up right to the forefront of Mary's mind.

A baby?

I'm not married. I can't have a baby. 

No, really! I can't have a baby. 

Under the set of circumstances I am living in right now, it is humanly impossible for me to have a baby.

And then she verbalized her question. And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I have not had relations with a man?” (Luke 1:34 LEB)

Now here is the difference between the kind of question that Zacharias asked and the one Mary asked.

God had already set a precident of giving children to the barren, but He had never caused a virgin to have a baby.

Mary had questions, and God, being the kind and merciful one that he is, was willing to answer her questions, to show grace to her questions, and to let her know that He was in the process of another miracle with someone she was close to and could share this time with.

And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore also the one to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth—she also has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:35-37 LEB)

In Mary's time, being unwed and pregnant meant shame, her fiancce had the right to divorce her, and she could be stoned. Yet her response shows her trust in God's plan for her life.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. (Luke 1:38 NIV)

How willing are we to do what God wants us to do when it seems like things might get tough around us?

Do we question God's ability when we have seen Him work in the past?

Do we ask questions due to uncertainty but obey willingly because we trust God's plan for our lives?

I would love to be able to that I obey willingly, but unfortunately, that is not always the case. 

I question... even when I have seen Him work in my life in the past.

I ask "how"... because I like seeing the whole plan laid out in front of me instead of trusting that He not only knows how everything will turn out, but He sees the entire picture of my life, not just the small part of the road I happen to be traveling on at the time.

Mary has taught me an invaluable lesson. I can ask the questions as long as I am willing to follow His directions in complete faith that God is in control of the plan.

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