The Bible is full of so many wonderful and powerful statements and actions of those God called upon. Noah was told to build an ark and gather into it animals of every kind, and the Bible records: “Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.” (Genesis 6:22). Abram was told to journey from his homeland to a place God would tell him, and Genesis 12:4 says, “So Abram went, as the Lord told him…” God was with Joseph and David and Daniel and on and on, and they followed God’s leading of their lives.
But, because of the time of year it is, I want to focus on another who listened to God, said yes, and followed his leading in her life. Because I just said “her” perhaps you’ve guessed that I want us to think about the calling upon Mary’s life, and you would be right. One of the most beautiful phrases in the Bible is Mary’s response to God’s call on her life: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)
Reading over the story of Mary’s encounter with the angel who shared God’s call on her life makes everything sound so simple: God asked, Mary said yes, easy, right? You and I both know that was not the case. In between the call and Mary’s response had to be filled with Mary’s thoughts of what this would mean to her life. What would her parents say? What would Joseph say? What would the people of her village say? What would happen to her marriage plans? In short, what would this mean to the rest of her life?
Pause for just a couple of minutes and really think about this!
In a way, it is easy to think about this from the perspective of the fact that: it is her life, so no matter what I think, it doesn’t really make any difference in my life. That involved Mary’s “yes” to God. But what about your “yes” to God?
When you professed your faith. When you said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and he died for my sins,” you said yes to God. Were those just words, or do they affect the rest of your life as Mary’s yes did to hers? They should. Our yes to God is about so much more than just filling our usual spot in church on Sunday morning. It is about how our lives reflect – by our actions – our saying yes to God.
Let’s not sugar-coat it. Saying yes to God does not mean life will be easy. Mary knew she would face challenges. We will face challenges in our saying yes to God as well. Saying yes to God means focusing on His will for our lives over our own, and our world does not understand that concept. Our world preaches that focus on ‘self’ is the only way to happiness.
The truth of the matter is that God wants more happiness in our lives than we could ever imagine or discover on our own. His form of happiness is not the short-term, quick, self-gratification kind. God wants to be a part of our lives for the long haul.
Advent, Christmas, and the New Year always provide us with opportunities to think about our lives, especially our faith-life. I would challenge you as well as I have myself, to think deeply upon what your “yes” to God means in your life. I pray you will discover the true blessings in a life lived through that “yes.”
The writer is the pastor of the Anna and Botkins United Methodist churches.