Luke 1:26-28 (KJV) And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
Imagine getting that call. Mary was a young girl when Gabriel visited - an unmarried virgin. We know what it can be like to hear God's voice. We rejoice when He speaks big and bold. We take comfort in his gentle nudges and wrap up in His still small voice. We reach for his hand when he calls us to walk, but are we truly listening to all he wants us to do? Have we let go of our own hang-ups and simply followed?
How often have we grumbled at the words of patience while we hear "be still and know that I am God," (Psalm 46:10) only to grumble again when asked to act? How frequently have we delayed obedience with the common universal excuses? "But God, it's too scary, But God I don't like conflict, But God I can't handle that." Have we decided we don't have to do anything uncomfortable? Do we cling to the strands of complacency as we barrel through day-to-day motions - filling our hands with electronic devices, filling every waking minute and hour with activities. Do we distort the truth to justify intentions? It is said, "idle hands are the devil's workshop," right? (proverbs 16:27) But what if we are not slowing down to really be present in the moments we are living. What if the activities we are sowing our time in to do not produce spiritual fruit. What if we have forgotten to keep God number one in our lives - before all the rush, before all the activities, before pleasing people, before pleasing ourselves? How can we realign?
The answer, while not popular, is simple. We obey the commands God gave us and spend time in his presence. We must seek his guidance and wisdom and LISTEN to what he asks. It may mean letting go of certain things. It may mean people may not always be happy with our choices. It may mean being truthful when the truth hurts or having conversations we don't want to have. It may take work. One thing that is certain, it will require sacrifice. Matthew 16:25 (KJV) tells us, "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it."
We must be able to say, "Yes God, I'm scared but I will do it."
We must be willing to commit, "I know I don't like it God, it makes me uncomfortable, but that doesn't matter. I will do it for you. Look what you did for me, after all. Those nails in your hand were not comfortable. The betrayal from your friends undoubtedly hurt. The lack of honor and unthankfulness that came your way must have been heartbreaking. Being blamed and killed simply because people couldn't admit their own wrongs must have felt so lonely and scary, what a huge burden to bear. But Lord, because of your sacrifice, we can live forever if we choose your way, thus to you, I owe my life."
We must let go. We must trust in the end game. We must look forward to the prize of race complete when we bask in the light of glory embraced in our maker's arms and hear the words, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."
Sacrifice is not giving up sugar, TV or social media. These are good acts of self-control - a fruit of the spirit that can help us prioritize our time, but TRUE sacrifice is LOVE. It's a willingness to put yourself forward for a greater cause, despite your own reservations, despite your worries and fears, and despite the cost to yourself.
When Mary was called to be the mother to the one and only living Son of God, He knew her sacrifice/Love would be great. She didn't have her baby in the warmth and comfort of a home. She had him in a manger. She didn't know what it would feel like to watch her little boy grow into a man who was hated, persecuted, beaten and pierced for the transgressions of others. Yet, she watched it unfold. She didn't know how it would feel to sit helplessly unable to protect him from the cross. Yet she loved him through it. But because of His sacrifice, because of His love, Jesus died to rise again and He chose Mary to help him carry out his plans.
Imagine how God can use us if we can let go and simply follow.
Thank you for humbling yourself to the most vulnerable level one could humble themselves. Thank you for speaking the truth even though it cost you greatly. Thank you for teaching us and guiding us every day. Thank you for being an example of how to live and how to love. I pray that as you call us forward to work in your honor, that we can be brave. I pray we stay focused on the goal and that we remember that what is lost for Christ is gained. I pray we look closely and examine ourselves and that we listen to your voice as we make decisions, as we engage with those around us, and as we give thanks to the gift you have given us. I pray in Jesus' name, Amen.