I used to be confused about the way God works in our lives. Sometimes I still try to mix this up or ignore His perfect plan because it doesn't match up with my idea of a perfect plan. Below is one of the devotionals I wrote earlier in the autumn. I needed the reminder today how God fortifies us before giving us a challenge. This babe's birth is impending, I'm heavy and tired, and beginning to think the baby would be easier on the outside than the inside (this is never true). God gives us strength before we even know we need it. He's strengthening me with His word, kind actions from friends, reminders of what labor and birth are really like, and all the other ways He knows I need to be lifted before the hard but beautiful time of labor and newborn stage envelopes our lives. I'm just hoping that when this time comes, I will have the strength to respond to all this time holds with grace.
Let it be Graceful (Luke 1:26-38)
When Mary was visited by Gabriel in Luke chapter 1, he gives her so much news- But he starts with “Greetings favored one!” The favored one (gratia plena) can be translated to one who is full of grace.
She had no idea how her life would be turned upside down by the coming news. But Gabriel tried to ground her in God’s grace before he continues with his news. When delivering shocking news we often try to do the same. “I’ve scheduled surgery, but I’ll need to have my hip replaced,” or “I’m picking up dinner, but I’ll be an hour late from work.” We try to pad shocking or often what could be perceived as bad news with the good. Gabriel delivers the fortifying news to Mary before he delivers the life changing.
Luckily, He’s not ever called anyone but Mary to birth and raise his only begotten Son, but God asks us to do all sorts of things outside of our comfort zones.
He asks us to give our time to a prison ministry and we aren’t sure we’re equipped to handle that hurt and uncomfortable situation. He has our husband’s job transferred across the country from any friends and family leaving us without a support system and feeling lonely. He takes away our physical health right when we reach the busiest point of motherhood (isn’t that every stage of motherhood?).
But here’s the good news, God always gives us the grace to endure before we go through change. His grace comes before He calls us or expects us to do something we may find challenging. He never expects us to go through these things alone. He is always there with us. He holds us and carries us along the way. Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us to be strong and courageous and that God will never leave or forsake us.
It’s a little vague as to Mary’s feelings of the responsibility when she is given her big news. I know how I would have felt. Overwhelmed, under prepared, to say the least. But maybe even more importantly, what we do have is how she responds to the situation. It is such a graceful response. “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; May it be done to me according you your word.”
Mary, full of grace, submits to the Lord, asking His will be done in her life. She takes her calling and embraces the challenge. May we all have the gracefulness to respond to the Lord’s call on our lives in the same way.