“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21 NIV
What did thirteen- or fourteen-year old Mary think when the angel Gabriel appeared to tell her that she, a virgin, would conceive a child by the Holy Spirit, and that child would save his people from their sins?
Luke 1 says Mary was troubled when the angel first appeared to her. And yet, she responds in trust. “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”
I’ve always thought of the young Mary as submissive, humble, obedient–a sweet, lovely girl. And I expect she was all that. But what if the emotions around the angel’s message weren’t quite that straightforward for her?
What if she said yes, but still had questions?
- How will I tell Joseph?
- Will he break up with me?
- Will he love this child?
- What about all the gossips in this town? Will I be able to hold my head up when I walk down the main street?
When I felt God call me to minister in the Los Angeles ghetto, I said yes. But how was I going to respond when my mother cried, fearing I would be raped, beaten, or killed?
How is my friend responding when her daughter is preparing to go to a potentially dangerous missionfield, single? I can appreciate the mother’s concerns for her daughter’s emotional and physical wellbeing, her security, her happiness.
Or another friend who has just received a diagnosis of terminal illness and has decided not to go through treatment and its side effects, but to trust God for her remaining days.
So an initial ‘yes’ doesn’t necessarily end the story, does it. But God leads us, one ‘yes’ at a time.
Mary responded with that initial “yes,” and there were many yeses to follow.
- Yes to her twelve-year old son who stayed behind, conversing with the Temple elders when his mother and Joseph left Jerusalem to return home after Passover.
- Yes to watching her son ridiculed, attacked, called a fraud.
- Yes to watching this son she bore mocked, beaten, nailed to a cross to die, in agony of spirit and body.
And yes to His resurrection, to seeing her son alive and changed, knowing He was Son of God, Redeemer, Messiah, Holy One.
So I expect most of us have said “yes” along the way. But what’s the next “yes” in your journey of obedience? In mine?