December. The month we celebrate the birth of Jesus. As I decorated our Christmas tree and festive music played in the background, I couldn't help thinking about the time leading up to that first Christmas so many years ago...
No doubt Mary was excited. I imagine she was anticipating her marriage to Joseph, the talented carpenter. Wedding preparations were in full swing. No detail would be overlooked. The list of food for the celebration was thoroughly checked and re-checked. Although modest, accommodations for the guests were carefully thought through.
After a full day of chores and working on her wedding dress, Mary was more than ready for a good night of sleep. Little did she know this night would radically change the course of her life.
The being in her room could be none other than an angel. Before she could react, he was speaking, "Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women," (Luke 1:28; KJV). A bit frightened, Mary was troubled at his words, and wondered what he could possibly mean. Before she was able to respond, the angel delivered his message, "Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus," (Luke 1:30-31).
What? How could this be possible? Mary was a virgin. The angel gave her the answer, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God...For with God nothing shall be impossible," (Luke 1:35, 37).
Wow! Nothing less than incredible! To be highly favored by God, and chosen to be the mother of the Messiah. Mary's response was immediate, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word," (Luke 1:38). No hesitation. Full obedience.
As I continued to hang the Christmas ornaments on my tree, I couldn't help but think of the cost of obedience. For Mary, her reputation would be ruined. She would be shunned by family, friends, and society for becoming pregnant outside of marriage. It was possible that she could be stoned. Even her fiancé, Joseph, may not believe her. But Mary chose to believe God, and fully surrendered to His will for her. Although her life wasn't easy, Mary's obedience was rewarded by God. The Messiah was born Who would provide salvation for all mankind.
Obedience. Being willing to submit to the Lord's authority. I had to ask myself if I am willing to pay the price of being obedient to my Savior, if it means running the risk of suffering. Tough question. But one that I can answer in the affirmative when I contemplate the outcome - hearing the words of my Heavenly Father, "...Well done, thou good and faithful servant," (Matthew 25:21a).
Are you willing to pay the price of obedience to Christ? What step will you take to be obedient today?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for Your Word. I love the examples of ordinary people, just like me, who chose to be obedient to You. Help me to choose to be obedient to You today. In Jesus' name, Amen.
*The events leading up to the appearance of the angel are fictionalized by me. The quoted scriptures contain the factual account. For the entire story, read Luke 1:26-38.