One of the real keys of discipleship is learning to say yes to God. Saying yes to God will inevitably, at times, means saying no to ourselves and other things. Jesus put it this way …
All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. (Mark 8.34, CEB)
Say no to ourselves. Say yes to God. Sounds simple, right? Simple, but not easy!
The reality is, we often struggle to say yes to God, especially when the risks are great.
This past Sunday, during Advent, I talked about Mary, who was presented with an incredible challenge. Gabriel, a messenger from God, said to Mary …
Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is with you! … Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is honoring you. Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and he will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. He will rule over Jacob’s house forever, and there will be no end to his kingdom. (Luke 1.28-33, CEB).
Taking Mary’s life situation into consideration (she was young, perhaps 13, and engaged but not yet fully married to Joseph, and lived in a culture where marital unfaithfulness came with a maximum penalty of death by stoning), you can understand that this was clearly a daunting opportunity!
Mary asks a simple, practical question: “How will this happen since I haven’t had sexual relations with a man?”
Gabriel responds …
The Holy Spirit will come over you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the one who is to be born will be holy. He will be called God’s Son. Look, even in her old age, your relative Elizabeth has conceived a son. This woman who was labeled ‘unable to conceive’ is now six months pregnant. Nothing is impossible for God. (Luke 1.35-27, CEB).
Satisfied by Gabriel’s response, Mary’s ready to sign up. She makes a statement that every follower of Jesus should commit to memory and use often …
I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said. (Luke 1.38, CEB)
Mary said yes, not knowing how it was going to turn out. In saying yes to God, she also said no the life she was expecting to live. Mary said yes to God, even though it was hard!
(This post is part of Common English Bible Tour.)