–by Allan Pole

Jesus in his Manger with light shining onto it

Mary, the mother of Jesus, has received much attention. She is admired by many for her willingness to cooperate with God’s plan. Consider the qualities of the Messiah’s mother that prompted the angel Gabriel to greet her with, “You who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.”

Please take a few moments to read Luke 1:26-38.

Footprints on SandMary’s obedience enabled her to be used by God.

Mary identified her role in God’s plan—ready to do her Lord’s bidding. I can see the wheels turning in her head as she considers carrying a child before marrying her fiancé, Joseph. What a scandal this would be amongst her family and friends! She would be subject to a lot of gossip and shame. Was she willing to pay the price to give birth to God’s plan?

Medieval artists often portrayed Mary in stained glass windows. Her pane would be the only one with no colour on it. Clear glass. All the other windowpanes would filter the sun’s light through their distinctive designs. Mary was clear, unfiltered. There was nothing of her to affect the light that came through. She could not advance herself and advance the work of God.

Mary responds to God’s instructions: “I am the Lord’s servant.”

Someone has observed, “If two people ride on a horse, one must ride behind.”

We often live under the delusion that more information equals more spiritual growth. We devour content in search of knowledge that will provide the secret that has eluded us. Did you realize that the religious leaders, whom Jesus upset the most, knew the Scriptures inside and out? They were highly educated and intelligent people. Unfortunately, they were more concerned with saying what was right than with doing what was right.

There is a big difference between knowing what to do and doing what we know. We do not make spiritual progress through our gifts, intelligence or education, but through obedience. As we obey, the Lord trusts us with more insight.

Is there something you should be doing, but have been putting off? Is there something you should not be doing, but find creative ways to justify your actions?

Person with hands raised in air with sun and sky in the backgroundMary’s faith enabled her to be used by God.

 Mary had questions and didn’t understand the plan. However, she received what the Lord had for her—with listening ears and an open heart. Mary chose to obey and believe God’s message through the angel Gabriel. She replied, “May it be to me as you have said.”

Stormie Omartian advises in: “Especially for a Woman, Marriage Partnership,” Volume 12, Number 3:

“Trust that God has your best interests in mind and be willing to do what he asks of you, even if you don’t understand why. Obedience starts with having a heart that says yes to God.”

Are you prepared to accept responsibility for the progress of God’s plan in your life? Faith is the key that unlocks the door to God’s power. You can give Him the go-ahead by believing what He has said, or you can throw up a roadblock by refusing to accept.

Yes, there have been erroneous teachings on the topic of faith. Some will instruct us to name what we want and claim it for our lives. The danger lies in declaring God’s promises to fulfill our lusts and selfish desires. There is a step missing in this aberration of the truth; God needs to reveal His plan to us before we can obey and believe. Once He has done this, our responsibility is to give birth to His plan.

You are probably wondering how God reveals His plan to people. Here are some ways:

  • Through the Bible—He does not contradict His written Word.
  • Through impressions or thoughts—Jesus promised His followers would know His voice. With experience, you can learn to discern His voice.
  • Through other people—Sometimes, the least likely source can be a spokesperson for God. Build around you a group of godly counsellors who will help you discern God’s plan for you.
  • Through circumstances—Sometimes, though not always, an open or closed door can help you determine God’s direction.

Mary’s example should inspire us this Christmas season. 

As you look honestly at your life, can you see obedience and faith? If yes, that’s great! If you want to grow in these areas, how will you grow? Here are some ways:

  • Become a student of the Bible—There is no substitute for persistent, disciplined reading and study.
  • Pray—Ask the Lord to grow your faith and help you in your unbelief.
  • Fast—Self-denial can sharpen your focus on eternal matters.
  • Live what you know–Invite people to draw close to you and ask you tough questions so this can be sure to happen.

Many people resist surrendering to Christ because they don’t trust God to handle their lives to suit them. Our faith grows as we read the Bible, hear the testimonies of others who follow the Lord and walk with Him over time. When we trust Him, we move from serving Him out of obligation, to serving Him out of gratitude.

We can partner with God in seeing His vision fulfilled.

Parent reaching for Childs hand

Allan Pole

CESLM President