When God Interrupts
“I just want to know and do God’s will for my life.”
It’s a fairly common refrain among people of faith. I am certain I myself have spoken or thought it numerous times, and perhaps you have as well. We want to know and do God’s will for us–we truly do! The problem comes in, though, when God’s will for our lives does not match what we think God’s will for our lives should be. That’s when we start to push back a little bit. That’s when our desire comfort rears its head and tells God to slow down and rethink this whole thing.
We are in the midst right now of a blog series through this opening month of the year called “New Beginnings.” Every year, we set out to better ourselves, to commit to spiritual disciplines, to eating better and losing weight, to cutting out unhealthy habits, and to so many more things. We all want a fresh start because we see things in our lives that limit us or that prevent us from being who we want to be. And this is true just as much in our spiritual lives as it is in our physical ones (they are connected, after all).
In the past two weeks, we explored how God consistently offers us second (and third and fourth…) chances even when we don’t deserve it with the story of Abraham, and we also learned from the story of Moses that these opportunities for new beginnings lead into transformation.
And this week, we encounter the story of Mary at the beginning of the Gospel of Luke. One thing that is unique about the story of Mary is that she is barely able to have a first beginning, much less need a new beginning at all when God shows up. God sends a messenger to Mary when she is still a young woman, preparing to be married to Joseph. Mary’s exact age and life experiences prior to this moment are unknown, but a simple Google search will net results of anywhere from 12-16 years of age. Mary is entering her teenage years and already is approached by God with a life-altering, world-changing, cosmos-shattering proposition.
Take a moment to read the account of Mary meeting an angel of the Lord in Luke 1:26-38.
Again, Mary has barely reached womanhood; she has had very little life experience outside of what she has witnessed and learned from her own family. And now, a messenger from God shows up and completely changes the course of her life. She is to give birth to God’s son, the one who will sit upon the throne of the people of Israel (and subsequently, all the people of the world throughout all of history)!
I mean, think about this in a modern context. We barely trust 15 and 16-year olds to drive cars on their own, and God has just given Mary the task of bearing the Messiah–and she may be even younger than 15 or 16! (Lesson number 1 from this story, by the way, is that we need to include kids and teens in the life of faith. God did not limit participation in his plans to those who are 18 and older, but God has always trusted young men and women to be active participants in the story of God’s redemption of the world.)
But the lesson that I want to draw our attention to in this story is Mary’s response: “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.”
Mary’s response teaches us how these New Beginnings (or in Mary’s case, perhaps it would be better to describe this as an interruption than a fresh start) not only lead to transformation, but how the Creator seeks to interact with the created. God has always wanted a partnership, not just a world that has already been determined and is devoid of connection. The Creator and the created are intricately bound together–so much so, that the Creator will be born to the created! Just as God gave life to all the earth and those who walk, swim, or fly upon it, so too now will the created give life to God-in-the-flesh, Jesus.
This is an amazing and shocking revelation of how God will live in cooperation with us. And Mary’s response is no less shocking: “Let it be with me just as you have said.”
May we learn to respond as Mary responds. May our desire to know and do God’s will exceed our desire for comfort. And may we actively partner with our God, who is constantly offering us New Beginnings.
(To continue reading Mary’s words found in the Gospel of Luke, click here.)