Let It Be To Me According To Your Word
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. - Isaiah 9:6
During Advent, the church looks back in celebration at Christ’s birth (to us a child is born, to us a son is given), while at the same time looking forward in eager anticipation to the coming of Christ’s kingdom when he returns for his people (and the government shall be upon his shoulder). We live in the time between the fulfilled promise of Christ’s first coming and the yet-to-be-fulfilled promise of his second coming. The promise for Israel was Jesus Christ and the promise for the church is Jesus Christ; he has come, and he will come again. This is the essence of Advent: to prepare our hearts to receive Christ -- both as a fragile infant and as a triumphant king.
Today, the Christmas story is easily taken for granted, even among Christians. We can become almost indifferent to a story we've heard countless times -- the angel's appearance to Mary, Joseph's dream, the road to Bethlehem, the lack of room in the inn, the birth in a lowly stable, the shepherds in the field. Advent affords us the opportunity to prepare our hearts, to reflect on the events leading up to the birth of Jesus Christ, and in doing so, to renew a sense of awe in God’s perfectly-timed plan to send his Son into the world (Galatians 4:4-5).
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. - Luke 1:26-38
The seemingly impossible was imminent. The sinless Son of God was set to make his appearance on earth, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born to a virgin as a helpless baby. No matter how prepared a woman is to have a child, a positive pregnancy test still brings a flood of uncertainty. Fears for health, for safety, of inadequacy, and of the changes to come are just a few of the issues that arise.
When the angel appeared to Mary, outrageously telling the young, unwed girl that she would soon be pregnant, she faced not only emotional uncertainty, but a very real concern for physical safety. She had nothing but the story of this angel to tell her parents and Joseph, the man she had promised to marry. Joseph would have been well within his rights to expose her sin and witness her execution. Her one question, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” was answered with even more outrageousness: her virgin body would conceive this child by the Holy Spirit. And not just any child, but the Son of God, who would ascend the throne of David and reign over a kingdom that would never end. Her terror at the angel’s appearance must have been increasing by the second. Makes the typical woman’s pregnancy concerns seem pretty small.
God was calling Mary to a life that she would not be able to live in her own ability, strength or power. But through the angel the Lord reassured her and presented to her his perfect plan for the redemption of mankind and informed her of the part that she would play in that plan. Because Mary knew God through his word, she was reassured and able to respond in faith, “Let it be to me according to your word.”
God has done the same for you that He did for Mary. He is calling you to a life that you will not be able to live in your own ability, strength, or power. But through his word, he has promised his presence, revealed his plan for your life, and will reassure your doubts and fears. Just like with Mary, he desires to use you if you are willing to surrender to his will. So as we enter into the season of Advent this year, allow the story of Christmas to once again overwhelm you with awe at the God for whom nothing is impossible. Make it your prayer to have the bold faith of that long-ago girl to say, “Let it be to me according to your word.”