They were betrothed. They had plans. Their families had plans. It would be a beautiful marriage, because I believe Mary and Joseph were in love.
Then the Angel of the Lord came with words that Mary, young pure Mary has found favor in the sight of God. The Angel tells her of God’s plan and what the Holy Spirit will do.
I’m sure she had questions, lots of questions, more than what she voiced. Perhaps her head was spinning, swirling, as if she were in a dream, wondering if the angel were real.
“Could God really be choosing me? What will my parents say? Will Joseph believe me?” There was so much at risk. Her wedding! And she couldn’t even know how people would talk when Jesus was grown when he did not become the king people expected; The king who was supposed to save them from Rome. How he would be referred to as “the son of Mary”.
Christmas would not exist without lives willing to surrender. I suppose Mary could have opposed, turned, right then and there from God. But she didn’t. Despite her questions and longing for the desires of her heart to be realized in marrying Joseph she didn’t turn away. Surely the desires of her flesh were as real as any young woman’s…to be loved and trusted by her beloved, to have her parents approval, to keep her family honor in tact, to be respected by those in her community, and to have a beautiful Hebrew wedding. And that may have been only the beginning of her desires. I can’t get inside Mary’s head, but if I were a young girl again, pure, knowing I had the love of a good man, my desires would be that of those mentioned and I’m sure I wouldn’t want anything to stand in the way. Mary desired good things. These were all things that would honor God, yet that was not HIS plan. Could she surrender and give up her desires for what God wanted? Was God going to be enough?
She said, “yes” to God. When God approached Mary through the angel, she had a choice to make. We are all like Mary. God is asking something of us. He first longs for us to follow Him, to make our hearts a comfortable home for Him, where He may dwell to lead and guide us and show us how to love. But we must be willing like Mary to surrender. Then, along our journey at any given moment God may ask of us more than we may be willing to do or give, but the question is do we trust Him? Do I trust him? That is how we take Christmas with us everyday. Will we trust Him with hearts of uninhibited, childlike faith? Will we allow Him to use us to further his Kingdom purpose just like Mary did over 2000 years ago? Denying our desires, and surrendering to His will and giving up dreams?
So often obeying God, surrendering our will and desires to His ways does not make sense to us, and we wrestle day after day. Not that we are robotic in our obedience to Him either. He gave us thoughts and feelings and even room for doubt and question. Yet when we examine God’s history, His faithfulness in the lives of the saints gone before us, and even in our own lives we’ll find His ways are always right and good and perfect. In the end, He will not disappoint.
Mary gave up her dreams for God’s will. She risked Joseph not taking her at all until the angel spoke to him, but then she gave up a traditional wedding to be “married quietly” by her Joseph. No celebration, but a somber perhaps confusing union for all. Not knowing the outcome, Mary wholeheartedly surrendered, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord.”
But I have this very strong conviction, that when the long journey to Bethlehem was over, and a lowly place was found to lay her head, that when the sweat and tears and pain of birth were over and she finally held her precious baby boy in her arms, none of what she had longed for mattered. What her parents believed did not matter. What society would say did not matter, her reputation did not matter. Losing a traditional wedding did not matter. She held that perfect, little baby so tenderly to her heart, she held the SON OF GOD, with her faithful Joseph by her side. Then, in that moment, NOTHING ELSE MATTERED! In the end for us, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS except that we follow after Him with our whole heart.
God help me to take the surrendering truths of Christmas with me everyday by bringing me to the place where nothing else matters to me but surrendering to you, because your ways are perfect. Even when I don’t understand, even when everything I desire seems right and good in your eyes; God may I deny myself and follow you, to do your will and be like Mary and bask in the joy of life with you and life in you.