Have you ever been confused or disturbed by God — maybe by something you read in his Word, by something he’s nudging you to do, by something he’s been teaching you, or by something you’re struggling to accept?
Have you ever wondered why his plans, guidance, teaching, and design for full life are so different from the world's?
Have you ever thought that his words (“I love you,” “I offer you new life,” “I forgive you,” “Die to your own desires,” “Surrender fully to me,” “Love everyone as I have loved you”) are unlikely or impossible?
Imagine how Mary must have felt when the angel Gabriel appeared to her. When angels appear to people in the Bible, they often start their message with, “Don’t be afraid!” because angels — real angels, not the silly things we see in most artwork — are fearsome and awesome.
But Gabriel didn’t start with, “Don’t be afraid.” He started with this:
“Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
Those words were the thing that disturbed and confused Mary. Why would an angel greet her and call her favored? Why would an angel come to announce God was with her? What was the reason for this visit?
Maybe Mary’s confusion showed on her face because the angel then said,
“Don’t be afraid,”
almost as though he knew she wasn’t confused and disturbed by his presence but instead was confused and disturbed by his first words.
Just imagine how she must have felt about what the angel said next: “You’re going to conceive. You’re going to give birth to a son. He will be the Son of the Most High.”
Mary was only betrothed, not married. What would people say? Mary’s fiancé was an honorable man. What would he think? Mary was a virgin. What was happening?? There were plenty of reasons for Mary to be afraid. But the angel told her she didn’t need to fear because this plan was God’s plan.
So Mary responded with an honest and reasonable question: “But…I’m a virgin…how is this possible?” (It’s good to know that God allows and listens to and even invites our sincere questions.) In the end, after hearing the angel’s full message, Mary responded with total trust, sincere surrender, and humble obedience.
When God speaks to us from his Word and through his Spirit, will we do the same? Will we give up control of our lives and willingly be the Lord’s servant?
When have you been afraid, confused, or disturbed by God or his Word or his plans?
What gives you comfort in those situations?
Read the scripture passage for a Christmas story about total surrender.