And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord;
Let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
I wonder what would have happened to Mary if she had not agreed to become the mother of Jesus when the angel Gabriel told her she would give birth to him. If He had just moved on to someone else Mary would have missed out on a great blessing. But she did submit willingly and later sang one of the greatest songs of joy in the Bible: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, (vs. 46-47) She praised God for choosing her for this special assignment and for what the Child to be born to her would mean to the world.
Mary was totally on the receiving end of that first Christmas gift, Jesus, but in a way she gave a gift in return: Her joyful submission to God’s plan. She trusted God and entrusted her life to Him. Months later Jesus came to Mary in a miraculous way—through the womb of a virgin—conceived by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus comes to us in no less miraculous fashion—through the same Holy Spirit who works the miracle of faith. He wants to pour out the blessing of an abundant life upon us. That doesn’t mean an easy life, but a fruitful one that He can use to bless others even as he is blessing us.
Yet, unlike Mary, often our first response is not submission, but resistance. What will it cost me to lay down my will and follow His? What do I have to give up in order to receive what He wants to give me? We don’t always resist just because we are willfully stubborn, though at times that is the reason. Sometimes our faith is just too weak to trust that God has something better to give than what we already have. Our hands are full of our own goals, fears, and desires. We can’t take what God offers unless we lay them down and lift up to him open hands and willing hearts.
In times of tragedy like what our nation witnessed last week, we lay down vengeance and anger to receive his comfort. In times of temptation we lay down our desires to receive his satisfying fullness. In times of indecision and confusion we lay down our fear to receive his guidance. We might not always do it joyfully at first, but submitting to God’s summons and offer of grace will result in joy as it did for Mary. Christ also gave us the example as he submitted Himself to the Father’s will to be crucified for our sins. Not a happy event at the time, but His submission resulted in our salvation and great joy in heaven and in our Savior’s heart.
This Christmas remember that God blessed the whole world through the joyful submission of His Son who came not to be served but to serve and give his life for us. He came through a young woman who also submitted to God as His servant. Do you want the joy of which she sang? Do you want your life to bless others as hers did? Be a joyful servant of the One who first served you. Let it be to you whatever God says.
Pastor Tom Konz