How would we react if we were a young girl of about thirteen years and an angel appeared and boldly proclaimed: “You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.” (Luke 1:31 NIV)
Would we be happy? Or would we be puzzled, possibly even angry?
Naturally, our first question would be, like Mary: “How will this be … since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34 NIV)
Yet this is the only question Mary asked the angel. The only one! No mention about it being unfair. She had, after all, her whole life in front of her. She had plans in the making, even a fiancé. But despite the fact that this was all now at stake, she didn’t even give a hint of reproach.
She would soon become aware that her neighbourhood would become a busy network of whisperings and false accusations. She would definitely be featured on Gossip Magazine, and her fiancé would likely become suspicious as well, and would possibly break their engagement. She couldn’t blame him for that, yet there was still no word of discontent. No hint of unforgiveness or the “this isn’t fair” syndrome. Instead she concluded: “I am the Lord’s servant . . . May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38 NIV)
Would we be able to bestow even the tiniest bit of the grace shown by Mary? Or would our story be a bit more lethal, with quite possibly more than a hint of accusation?
Like Mary, we have all have been given a task by God: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matt 28:18-20 NIV)
But are we chomping at the bit to fulfill that task? We are talking about the Good News here. We have been set free and others can experience that freedom as well. Why are we so reluctant to share such a glorious newsflash?
True, some of us come forth and respond to such invitations, through a church, through an online ministry or by directly helping those in need. We feel an inner hunger for making a difference in this world, and we respond to Jesus’ invitation. But still, we tend to hesitate and think of backup plans, more cleverly designed than D Day itself! Although we feel the confirmation coming from God, we enter with doubt in our minds.
Then, just like Mary experienced, adversity reaches us. “Shouldn’t everything be running smooth when we serve the Lord?” We may be asking ourselves, forgetting that the evil one will always try to discourage any endeavours to follow any of God’s assignment. Sadly, many leave their ministries due to the trouble they may be facing. Some even become bitter, accusing God of not being there, forgetting what Jesus told them: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)
Had they only persevered, victory would have been forthcoming! Instead, unlike Mary, unforgiveness festers their souls and they become bitter and far from being approachable.
Too often and too late we realize the power of forgiveness. Even though we were all called to experience it fully!
It was Feb. 20, 2011, and a twenty-year old girl was traveling on the roads of Auckland, New Zealand. She had six other youngsters in the vehicle with her, a vehicle that was only designed to safely hold five. The inevitable happened. They crashed, and she found herself trapped in the rubble, slowly dying. Regrets flooded her. You see, there had been a nasty fight with her sister just the day before, and her dying words were for her sister: “I am so sorry.”
May this Christmas Day be one of jubilation, where forgiveness is your choice gift, where you can truly say: “I am the Lord’s servant”, and “Jesus, I want to follow You with all of my heart, soul and strength. You are my everything!”
Remember, God has a special assignment for you. It’s up to you to either accept or reject it.
(To access the entire “Christmas: A Message of Forgiveness” devotional series, please click here.)