About five years ago around this time, I spoke publicly for the first time on this continent. I was in Celina with the women of the First Baptist Church and I had been recommended to give an "inspirational Christmas message" to this lovely group of women.
I felt completely in over my head. I was 31 years old and privately going through a devastating miscarriage. I had no business teaching anyone anything. My heart at the time was about finding my God-given purpose in life... about being all in for whatever HE had in store for us, never mind our own dreams and plans.
At the time, we had recently been derailed off the path of comfortable and cushy living. We (reluctantly) forsook the ease of that life to run for an office in which we felt so led. Make no mistake, God was clearly leading us, but it remained uncomfortable, exhausting and scary. Not only that, but I had traveled across the world, receiving a fresh calling from the Lord beyond my personal safety net.
So when I was supposed to deliver a “Christmas themed message” I had absolutely no clue what to teach. I had said yes because I knew I was supposed to - that this is where God was leading me. But not only was I terribly unqualified, but what God had been teaching me in that season seemed incredibly inadequate for the task.
As I was preparing however, Jeff so brilliantly pointed out that Mary probably also had grand plans of what her life would be. She was getting married, had planned where they would live, thought about the babies she would have, how Joseph would be a master carpenter and involved in the community.
Most likely, as teenage girls do, Mary had grand plans and even bigger dreams of her own.
And then God called her somewhere different.
No one could have possibly understood what she was going to walk through as the mother of Christ, least if all herself. She couldn’t have known the pain of losing a child, she wouldn’t dare have thought she would lose one at all. She had no one else’s path to follow, no ones footsteps to walk in, no formula to follow. She was called to forge a way that was only her own and without a doubt scary, uncomfortable and exhausting in all of the ways.
Yet she said yes.
She held her hands open and said “may it be done”. She loved God so much that she was willing to lay aside everything she knew to be true, right, comfortable and good to follow Him - on a whim. She trusted Him fully, can you imagine how impossibly crazy this angel sounded to her? Yet, she was prepared in her heart for that very God-ordained moment. My conversation would have obviously involved arguing. I am convinced that not just anybody would say yes to an entirely new and unexpected life like that - I certainly wouldn't. But she did.
And friend, then the world changed.
Because of Mary's yes, we are free. Because she was willing, we now have a savior. Because she laid herself down, Jesus was able to do the same.
Sure, God could have used someone else, that’s not the point. The point is that her yes changed everything. And ours could to.
I've found that these "yes" moments come a little at a time and then all at once. There is practice and preparation leading up to the pivotal moments of life when God gives us a choice to go this way or His way. And how do we prepare?
First, we practice saying yes. We say yes to helping the lady at the grocery store, to turning around and giving a few dollars to the man on the street, we open our doors to our neighbors, we allow the Holy Spirit to lead our daily conversations and interactions. We start here.
Then we show up and passionately pursue Him. Daily. We get in the word, we pray, we worship, we wait. We meet God halfway. Mary's call didn't come out of nowhere for her - she was from a family who pursued the things of Him in the first place. If she didn't, her answer most certainly would not have been "may it be so". She had found favor with God - she was living a righteous life already. Not just when God showed up and called her on a new mission.
Are you willing to lay down your plans for God's purpose? Are you willing to leave everything behind in order to follow whatever it is that God has for you in this next season of life? What a better time of the year to ask ourselves that question! Mary provided a wonderful example of this for us - especially as women.
Friend, I cannot encourage you enough to say yes to our Father. He loves you, cares for you, is FOR you. He wants to use you for a greater purpose than antyhign this world, your career, your facebook feed has to offer! He wants your gifts, talents, your families, communities, homes. He wants it all not because He is selfish or taunts you by giving you something just to take it back, but because He has something better and more meaningful. The kind of thing that fills your heart to the absolute brim and overflows with eternal significance.
Fight to say yes. Prepare to say yes. Just, always say yes.