My Christmas tree is still standing tall, the ornaments placed so lovingly last month still clinging to its branches. Candles still wink at me from my windows. My decades-old hand-carved nativity from Israel is still sitting humbly atop my dining room table.
But alas, Christmas has come and gone.
Still, so many “Christmas” lessons aren’t about Christmas at all, are they? They’re about LIFE.
Consider with me a statement made by Mary, mother of Jesus. When Mary was told by the angel that she, a virgin, would give birth to the Son of God, here was her simple response:
“I am the Lord’s slave…May it be done to me according to your word.”
What a profound declaration. These are the words of a young woman who understood that she didn’t have any right to call the shots. She knew that she belonged to Someone Else. Just as a slave in that day awakened each morning with no agenda of her own, but was instead ready to do her master’s bidding, Mary willingly made her Lord’s agenda her utmost priority.
She had no “master plan”…only her Master’s plan.
Like a fallen leaf sitting atop the grass, ready and willing to be swept wherever the divine winds happened to blow.
At whatever speed.
In whatever direction.
To whatever height.
And likewise, willing to stop whenever the divine winds happened to stop.
Yes, Mary knew well her Jewish heritage of being owned by God.
I wonder how well I know mine?
“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.” (I Corinthians 6:19-20)
You see, I used to belong to the prince of this world, Satan himself. I walked in darkness. I loved the world and the things in the world. I fell short of the glory of God, choosing sin time after time. Satan owned me.
But God loved me too much to allow me to remain under Satan’s ownership. And He wanted the glory that was rightly due Him…glory I was not giving Him in my sinful state. Glory that pours forth from the lips of redeemed people proclaiming a song of praise for the Redeemer. So He purchased me back, paying for me with the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. That is the “price” with which I was bought.
I am, in fact, a woman “for His own possession.” Once I had no identity at all, but now I belong to God. (I Peter 2:9-10)
Sometimes belonging feels warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it? It feels like comfort and peace and family and having a place and being loved.
But belonging also means ownership.
Yes, I am owned by God no less than Mary was. In fact, I wonder if God’s ownership of believers today is even weightier. After all, Hebrews 10 tells us that the covenant of the law, under which the Jews were His chosen people, is but a shadow of the one through which “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
And so I must realize that Mary’s response isn’t just admirable and praiseworthy and noble.
Mary’s response is the only right response. It’s the reasonable and appropriate and obvious response, if our Master is really…our Master.
But it’s still hard, isn’t it? So how did Mary do it? What brought her to the place of responding rightly to the unexpected?
First, we can see that she was God-oriented. The angel’s message to Mary brought huge ramifications for her life. But we never see her putting her agenda ahead of God’s. Her words in Luke 1 are full of praise for her God, Who was clearly the center of her life.
Second, she was Scripture-focused. Her song in Luke 1:46-55 clearly reflects her thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. She accurately describes God’s character as depicted in the Old Testament, which reveals to us that she was intimately familiar with God’s Word.
Finally, she was faith-filled. Because Mary knew the Scriptures and knew the God of the Scriptures, she had the utmost faith in Him. She never disbelieved the angel’s announcement. She asked how it would happen, but never doubted that it would happen. And she knew her God was trustworthy, faithful, and good — even in the unexpected.
As I contemplate this past year, I regret that I didn’t always respond immediately like Mary when faced with the unexpected. How I wish I had!
Constant delays in our plans to be foster parents? We are the Lord’s slaves…May it be done to us according to Your word.
Troubled relationships, Lord? I am the Lord’s slave…May it be done to me according to Your word.
More ministry responsibilities, Father? I am the Lord’s slave…May it be done to me according to Your word.
Betrayal from those we trusted? We are the Lord’s slaves…May it be done to us according to Your word.
Months of unemployment, God? We are the Lord’s slaves…May it be done to us according to Your word.
A cancer diagnosis? We are the Lord’s slaves…May it be done to us according to Your word.
I don’t know what events are awaiting us in the upcoming year. I don’t even want to guess. After a year overflowing with the unexpected, it would be foolish to try.
But it’s likely there will be a lot of mundane…and perhaps some extraordinary. Probably some exciting…possibly some devastating. Much that is routine…some that is unexpected. But in all this and every other circumstance, I am devoted to knowing the Scriptures better, so I can know my God better.
Because if I do, my response will always echo Mary’s.
I AM THE LORD’S SLAVE…
MAY IT BE DONE TO ME ACCORDING TO YOUR WORD.
It would encourage me and my readers to hear your thoughts about following our Master. Please take a moment and share below.
Written by Jennifer Clarke